By Stephanie Camarena
This paper is aimed at roads asset managers, public works engineers, operations team leaders and local authorities sustainability managers. It will discuss how, when it comes to sustainability, current assessment of infrastructure performance in Local Councils and public works assignment processes might be acting as perverse incentives.
Performance as it is often defined as a concept based on unlimited growth, budgets and resources. However, Local Councils are faced with reduced finances, ever-increasing level of expectations from residents, higher cost of resources and little useful tools and strategies to support them transitioning to this new reality.
The paper is based on a series of case studies conducted in Local Councils in Victoria in 2013/14 in collaboration with EarthCo Projects Ltd, supplier of Polycom Stabilising Aid.
Road maintenance teams, eager to evaluate a new approach to unsealed road stabilisation, looked at project data which would take into account life cycle and sustainability thinking. They compiled some empirical data on the usage of Polycom Stabilising Aid but wanted to have a more thorough review of the environmental, financial and social benefits of using the product.
Preliminary findings point to a difficulty to track, store or report on such data. When reporting frameworks are in place, they track performance based on quantitative information such as kilometres graded, volumes and lengths. The “real” cost of machinery, fuel, water and material is lost in operational expenditure and not accounted for on a “per project” basis.
Participants found that information related to the reduction in the number of maintenance tasks, life cycle costs, incidents and residents complaints were not tracked. This is a significant finding which provides critical information required for Local Authorities to report on their ability to support sustainable operations now and in the future.