Climate resilience design guide to assist in infrastructure reconstruction

Northern Beaches

A research collaboration between local government authorities, an engineering peak body, engineering consultants and university researchers have created a guideline to help infrastructure managers and developers choose suitable climate-resilient building materials.

Thanks to a $110,000 grant from Local Government NSW, Northern Beaches Council, Dubbo Regional Council and the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) are collaborating to develop a Climate Resilience Design Guide to assist project managers to select construction materials that will be more durable to the impacts of climate change such as the increased intensity of coastal storms, floods, bushfires and heatwaves.

Over the past couple of years, New South Wales (NSW) has experienced extreme drought, bushfires, coastal erosion events and most recent flooding.

The partners have worked with environmental consultants BMT and engineering researchers to identify building materials and other innovative solutions that increase the ability of infrastructure to withstand the impacts of climate change, while also considering other sustainability criteria. The guide will form IPWEA Practice Note 12.2 and support the previous Northern Beaches Council-initiated partnered project Practice Note 12.1: Climate Change Impacts on the Useful Life of Infrastructure.

Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan congratulated the team for working to develop a guide to help thoughtful decision-making on materials to make public assets more durable to extreme weather events whilst also considering energy and water efficiency.

“This is a great example of how local government can collaborate with academia and the private sector to develop real-world solutions to difficult environmental problems,” Cr Regan said.

The CEO of IPWEA, David Jenkins has highlighted the importance of the project “Climate change and asset management resilience is a major priority for IPWEA. The strong relationship that exists between Local Government NSW, Northern Beaches Council and Dubbo Regional Council has resulted in a valuable publication that will benefit asset managers, project managers and communities throughout Australia.”

“Dubbo Regional Council views the IPWEA as instrumental in bringing engineers together, both socially, and from a collaborative perspective within Regional NSW. This project is an excellent demonstration of such collaboration. With Climate Change already upon us, it is imperative that we as an organisation do everything in our power to prepare for and mitigate the subsequent effects on our community’s infrastructure. Practice Note 12.2 will greatly assist asset managers for years to come by providing expert advice on how best to combat such environmental effects, both fiscally, and from a construction materials perspective,” said Chris Godfrey, Dubbo Regional Council, Manager Infrastructure Strategy and Design.

Case studies to test the draft guide on real infrastructure asset projects were developed with Councils from around NSW. The case studies were prepared by testing alternative approaches to making concrete, bitumen, steel, timber and plastics more resilient to climate change. IPWEA Practice Note 12.2 will include the case studies.

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