The cost of carbon is set to be measured as part of future business cases for major transport and infrastructure projects in New South Wales.

And the state will embrace circular design to reduce the carbon footprint of new developments.

In its latest announcement, the NSW Government has released two documents which it says will help to drive sustainable outcomes across the built environment in NSW.

These include:

  • A roadmap which outline actions that will reduce the level of carbon in infrastructure project delivery; and
  • New Circular Design Guidelines that will support industry to implement circular economy strategies across built environment projects.

The roadmap outlines 26 actions which are expected to occur across four areas over the next three years.

As part of this, the NSW Environment Protection Authority is developing a Protection of the Environment Policy (PEP) that will be applied to public infrastructure developments.

The PEP – a draft version of which will be available for public consultation later this year – will require public infrastructure projects to further improve design and construction to reduce carbon and to prioritise the use of low-carbon recycled or remanufactured substitute materials derived from waste streams in NSW.

It will be piloted on three Transport for NSW projects in 2023, including the Edmonson Park North multi-storey commuter carpark, St Mary’s Footbridge and the M12 West.

The roadmap will also see the cost of carbon being measured and incorporated into transport business cases from next year.

Other measures include the development of a sustainable procurement framework, development of net zero and climate change policies, a zero carbon materials and innovation project, introduction of whole of life carbon estimates into transport decision making, a new certified carbon management system and pilot projects for modern methods of construction on transport infrastructure developments.

Meanwhile, the circular design guidelines will help to support industry to implement circular economy principles across built environment projects.

According to the guide, a circular design approach to construction involves designing out waste and pollution, reusing materials and repurposing assets and regenerating natural systems.

It says design practices which support this include designing for durability/longevity, designing for flexibility and adaptability, design for disassembly and material reuse, design for material efficiency and operational waste management, reusing existing assets and materials, selecting projects and materials which are low impact and have an end-of-life use, and incorporating green infrastructure into projects.

The guide includes several best practice examples.

During the redevelopment of Quay Quarter Tower in Sydney, for example, around half of the resources that were needed for the new tower were directly reused from the existing tower as the new tower incorporates two-thirds of the structure from the existing building.

This saved over 7,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and reduced the cost by $130 million compared to the cost of a full demolition and rebuild.

Meanwhile, in on the M1 Pacific Motorway Tuggerah to Doyalson project (pictured below), around 2000,000 tonnes of the old, cracked surface of the old motorway that was built in the 1980s was collected, processed in a mobile crushing plant and then reincorporated into the new road layers.

As well as saving time and money, this reduced the environmental pressures that are associated with sourcing new concrete including extraction and transport.

NSW Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes said the importance of the initiatives should not be underestimated.

“Reducing carbon emissions from infrastructure projects saves money, saves time, and helps save the planet,” Stokes said.

“Cutting emissions will cut the amount of steel and concrete we use to build big infrastructure projects and can even create more capacity to build more infrastructure projects.”