The A, B, C (and D) of Integrating Climate Action and Sustainability into Federal Stimulus Projects

There is a relatively short, but eclectic, list of projects that are eligible for the Federal Government's Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program funding. Some of these projects are inherently sustainable, like changing street lights to LEDs and installing bike lanes or planting street trees. However, road building, street signs and playgrounds are often not designed and built to integrate sustainability. Here is our quick guide to integrating sustainability into the federal stimulus projects:

A. Choose sustainability projects

As mentioned above there are a number of projects that are inherently sustainable. Make sure to keep these on the top of your priority list! Projects that are covered by the funding include:

  • Traffic control equipment - you can replace old traffic signals with LEDs under this program
  • Street lighting equipment - LED street lighting upgrades are no brainers for this funding. Save money long term. Reduce emissions. Improve road safety – what’s not to like?
  • Bicycle and walking paths - say no more.
  • Painting or improvements to community facilities - well this sure does sound broad – at this stage I am sure you can use your imagination – however, I would wait till we see the detail in the guidelines!
  • Tree planting - ahh the value of a tree! Just watch out for the powerlines!

B. Delivering road, path or car park projects? Make sure your specifications are sustainable.

These projects are integral to the funding and integral to council’s capital works program long term.

Make sure your infrastructure specifications are sustainable!

Ironbark recently analysed the specifications for 2 growth area councils in Melbourne and Sydney and found that some simple changes to infrastructure specifications could reduce the greenhouse emissions from the annual road building program within their municipality by 3-5,000 tonnes p.a.! Each! Not to mention diverting up to 20,000 tonnes from landfill. Every year! Did I already say that?! Find out more here.

And all this is changeable with Councils specifications so get your specs right! Don’t leave it to someone else, integrate it within this program and move quickly.

C. Upgrading community facilities? Yep – same thing - make sure your specifications are sustainable.

One of the most important things a Council can do is ensure they have sustainability integrated into their construction and design process for new buildings. Buildings often contribute 30-60% of councils energy use and greenhouse emissions.

Ironbark recently completed a Sustainable Buildings Policy Background paper with Blacktown and Blue Mountains councils in Western Sydney. The report analysed the impact of higher standards on new constructions and found energy savings of over 50%.

Policy development takes time. So, for these projects – have the design checked by someone with experience in Sustainable Design. A quick check can save you tens of thousands over the life of the asset.

But don’t forget the new specifications – if you don’t have a sustainable building policy. This year is the right year to develop it.

D. Ensure compliance through your project managers

Specs are great. Delivering sustainability projects are great. But was it built to the spec? Did the contractors do what they were required?

Compliance is key for many projects to understand whether the cement provided really was low emission. Auditing key to make sure the street lights you installed really were the right ones in the right place.

Integrate compliance into the projects. It also makes sense to get outside help for this – as councils’ project managers will be stretched.

What else?

Well that is it. If you deliver on the four areas above you really will be “building back better” and ensuring the stimulus drives a sustainable outcome.

How Ironbark can help

Ironbark are busy helping councils all around the country with exactly these four areas above. We understand the urgency and see our roll as moving fast and helping scope and design projects better.

We have worked with hundreds of councils all around the country and can help you fast track processes, specifications and help with business case or project management. It is not worth the risk of learning how to deliver these projects on the go. Give us a call.