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The transport and infrastructure sectors are amongst the largest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world. As renewable energy infrastructure continues to develop, electric vehicles will eventually contribute to decarbonisation in transport infrastructure. But the roads on which they run are still being designed, built and maintained in without decarbonisation front of mind.
What if you could visualise the life cycle carbon footprint of infrastructure design before committing to a decision? How would that influence the design and procurement process to include more than the traditional criteria of program and capital cost, but also about whole of life environmental, social and economic factors?
It’s a common-sense approach to infrastructure design that has yet to be applied in Australia, or really anywhere in the world.
At Arcadis, we take our commitment to sustainable design seriously and have developed a simple method to embed sustainable decision making into our design processes.
For any major mobility project, our designers are typically required to deliver according to the client’s technical criteria. This details the design requirements across all our disciplines. While our different disciplines are excellent at coordinating the design and delivery of a project, sustainability assessment is traditionally undertaken in isolation and late in design. Usually too late to make any changes –a wasted opportunity.
As an example, pavement design and sustainability strategy are typically delivered independently and then bolted together as an afterthought. Additionally, the optimisation of design usually focuses on replacing virgin materials with recycled ones. This is a specification focused approach rather than a life cycle approach on holistic performance. We cannot capture the full sustainability impacts of a design through the narrow lens of recycled materials and capital cost. This doesn’t go far enough.
We’re taking a more holistic approach and have aligned our civil and sustainability design outcomes so that we can clearly articulate the sustainability impacts of specific design choices to our clients before committing to a pathway forward.
This is not a complex exercise, however it is a detailed one. We’ve been inspired by the nutritional labels you find on products in the food sector. These explain what you are putting into your body or where ingredients come from. We have applied this to the design and construction of mobility projects. At a glance, we can see how different designs compare across various criteria to inform better designs and sustainable outcomes or put simply ‘a metric of scaled sustainability’. This makes sustainability visible, and accessible to all project decision makers.