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Top 5 Sustainability Actions for Public Works Directors

  • 1.  Top 5 Sustainability Actions for Public Works Directors

    Posted 01 September 2014 23:48
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    An outcome of the IPWEA "Sustainability in Public Works" Conference held in Tweed Heads in July 2014 is a list of 5 practical actions that a Director of Infrastructure / Public Works can personally take action and responsibility for.

    The last session of the conference drew upon a number of authoritative sources that were developed in the lead up to or from the conference  proceedings.

    We were keen to drill this down to a top 5 priority actions for Public Works Directors, which have been distilled as follows:
    1. Set, monitor, review and publicly report against challenging sustainability targets covering main resources used for energy, water, materials, waste and GHG emissions.
    2. Justify sustainability benefits in public works proposals on economic grounds using 'whole-of-life' costing.
    3. Promote more sustainable use of materials in public works by amending procurement policies and practices to explicitly consider environmental and social aspects.
    4. Design public works with built-in resilience to cope with increasing risks and challenges of climate change and extreme natural events.
    5. Investigate early replacement of all street lights with energy efficient LED lamps.
    We encourage you to take up the leadership challenge of taking actions on sustainability in public works. The above actions might provide a good starting point.

    We welcome any comments on these suggested actions and how public works can provide leadership in this area.

    [A full copy of the report, actions and approaches distilled from the conference and lead up sources is attached.]

    Chris Champion
    Sydney NSW



  • 2.  RE: Top 5 Sustainability Actions for Public Works Directors

    Posted 03 September 2014 21:12
    I am confused.
    Your list seems to be across both:
    Environmental Sustainability  (items 1, 4 and 5), and
    Infrastructure (Council) sustainability (items 2 and 3).

    We need to define sustainability (what we are talking about) and focus on one area at a time (to avoid confusion and conflicts).
    Let's talk about "Sustainability" as a sequence of proposed actions that are on this topic and flow logically?

    You are missing probably the most important as number 1.

    #1 Set up guidelines, materials, programs and put in place "Education" for staff and our community, on climate change and its adverse effects on our environment, our services (assets) and our "way of life". Get the community involved so we can justify and take other required actions

    #2 Agree (with the community), set, monitor, review and publicly report against challenging, agreed sustainability goals. (your item 1)

    #3 Justify and include sustainability benefits (and considerations including adaptation and resilience projects) in public works proposals. (your item 2,4) There will be a need here to explain to a knowledgeable community why additional expenditure is required to achieve environmental sustainability goals.
    There is currently a need also to explain to our community why we spend extra dollars on Infrastructure (Council Services) sustainability annually, part of our longer term strategic commitment to Sustainability (financial and services).

    Hope this makes sense. It does to me!


    [IPWEA CEO Note: Hi Darron, I don't think we should limit sustainability to just environmental sustainability. It should cover all aspects of sustainability "that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". I think that this can easily cross over into infrastructure sustainability (or more correctly service sustainability). Chris C.]

    Darron Passlow
    Asset Management
    Pittwater Council


  • 3.  RE: Top 5 Sustainability Actions for Public Works Directors

    Posted 14 September 2014 22:27
    Sorry I just got another note from Stephen Lees that pointed me back to this discussion.
    I apologise, that I have NOW read the 5 page attachment that was included in your original post.
    It all makes a bit more sense now, except;
    I guess I now do not fully understand the difference between an "Action" and an "Approach".
    My previous post here was trying to say we first need to educate the community and council staff on "Sustainability" issues so that we can have a sensible conversation with and between them. This is basically what is in Approach # 1.

    So I guess I am saying there seems to be agreement on a way forward with a combination of Actions and Approaches, where to happen we need a list of agreed, "sustainable" actions.


    [IPWEA CEO Note: Hi Darron, I felt that some of the "approaches" and even "actions" in the attachment could be out of the hands of solely the Director Public Works. Some approaches require a more 'whole of organisation' approach which may not always have wider support within the organisation, e.g., a broad community awareness program. So we then distilled them into the Top 5 Sustainability Actions that a Public Works Director could take leadership on, even within his/her own Department, and even where a 'whole of organisation' approach may not be supported. CC.]

    Darron Passlow
    Asset Management Team Leader
    Pittwater Council