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16 INFRASTRUCTURE AUSTRALIA APRIL 2013
Sustainability ratings take off
by Rick Walters
IN MARCH 2012, a er more than two years of development
and much anticipation, the Australian Green Infrastructure
Council (AGIC) launched Australia s, and one of the
world s, rst comprehensive national schemes for rating the
sustainability of infrastructure. Known as the Infrastructure
Sustainability (IS) rating scheme, it incorporates an
assessment process, formal rating certi cation, and an
education program. e scheme is designed to drive
innovation, contribute to risk reduction and validate
Much has happened in the year since the launch of the
scheme. Notably, in March 2013 AGIC changed its name to
Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) to
better re ect the vision and mandate of the organisation.
ISCA is a not-for-pro t organisation, supported by a
wide base of over 80 members representing organisational
stakeholders across the life cycle of infrastructure and
associated supply chain; from government agencies to
owner operators, delivery agencies, planners and designers,
contractors and material suppliers.
Just 10 months a er the national launch of the scheme,
seven projects to the value of approximately $10 billion
had registered to pursue an IS rating, with several others
showing interest. e rst ratings are expected to be
awarded around the time of this publication.
Many infrastructure stakeholders are looking to include
the scheme into infrastructure tenders, demonstrating the
bene ts to industry that the tool brings by establishing a
common national framework.
e rating tool development began in 2010 with support
and funding from governments, both federal and state, as
well as several ISCA member organisations across Australia.
ISCA engaged independent leading experts from a number
of disciplines to review national and international best
practice and develop assessment categories which were then
rigorously tested on pilot projects. Altogether, 16 projects
were involved in pilot trials -- representing a range of
infrastructure types, locations, phases and sizes.
e IS rating tool covers 15 categories within six themes
and consists of a scorecard and a technical manual. e
categories covered are broad, ranging from environmental
issues such as energy and carbon, to social issues such as
stakeholder participation, to management issues such as
procurement and purchasing.
With a limited existing mix of benchmark reports,
sustainability reports, scorecards, performance indicators
and indices used across infrastructure sectors, ISCA
recognised the need to develop an approach to sustainability
that was consistent, practical and useful across the sectors.
e tool therefore provides the ability to rate everything
from railways to ports and harbours, bridges and roads,
telecommunications, sewers, cycleways and more.
As described by federal minister for infrastructure and
transport Anthony Albanese at the launch: "In this way,
the IS rating tool is for infrastructure what the Green Star
Rating Tool is for the building industry ... it provides
a common language to rank the sustainability of our
infrastructure and a common benchmark for monitoring,
reporting and improvement."
Rating tools such as Green Star, NABERS and
internationally, LEED, BREEAM and CEEQUAL
have enjoyed tremendous success, driving industry
transformations to high levels of sustainability performance.
By rewarding innovation and best practice through the IS
rating scheme, the infrastructure industry now has greater
incentive to demonstrate its capabilities and leadership.
e IS rating tool is accessible to infrastructure
developers as well as asset operators, from small scale to
large scale infrastructure, from design phase, through
construction and operational phases. Projects and existing
assets are rated on a 100 point scale. Ratings are based on
performance above "business as usual" practice, with three
possible IS rating levels:
• 25 -- 49 points is "commended" practice,
• 50 -- 74 points is "excellent" practice, and
• 75 -- 100 points is "leading" practice.
e fees for a certi ed IS rating are scaled according to
the capital value of the project/asset. Some organisations
choose to rst test the tool on their projects/assets
informally using the freely available scorecard on the ISCA
In order to upskill the industry in readiness to use the
scheme, ISCA has rolled out its IS Foundation Training
course across Australia, training more than 160 IS
accredited professionals to date. is training will not only
help with rating a project or asset, but can also provide a
means to more fully understand how to apply sustainability
in the context of infrastructure.
IS rating scheme aims
• To provide a common national language for
sustainability in infrastructure.
• To provide a vehicle for consistent application and
evaluation of sustainability in tendering processes.
• To help in scoping whole-of-life sustainability risks
for projects and assets, enabling smarter solutions
that reduce risks and costs.
• To foster resource e ciency and waste reduction,
• To foster innovation and continuous improvement
in the sustainability outcomes from infrastructure.
• To build an organisation s credentials and reputation
in its approach to sustainability in infrastructure.
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