Decarbonization, Delivering on Decarbonization, ESG, Sustainable Legacies

In this Decarbonization and Climate Resilience blog series, we’re highlighting our portfolio decarbonization and sustainability experts and how they are supporting our clients to reach their net zero goals.

As the threat of climate change impacts on our planet and communities continues to grow, decarbonization is front-of-mind for organizations and communities across the world.

We sat down with Adriaan Window, Decarbonization Leader for Australia and New Zealand, to explore the tools and teams helping create sustainable legacies.

Tell us about your role as Decarbonization Leader for Australia and New Zealand.

Infrastructure is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and reducing carbon emissions is a crucial aspect of our work.

One of my key responsibilities is to serve as the link between our clients, capture managers, subject matter specialists in design, and our technical practice that specialises in carbon and decarbonisation. Our dedicated decarbonisation team in Australia and New Zealand works closely with our clients to achieve sustainable outcomes and reduce carbon emissions their projects.

We are also supporting our colleagues and their growth in this space, ensuring that the advice they provide is technically sound. Part of this support is the development of governance, technical resources and facilitating our Decarbonisation Technical Practice Group for the Australia and New Zealand region.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for our industry regarding decarbonization?

Decarbonisation is a relatively new field. While the methods we employ have been around for a while, it’s the way we apply them, the markets in which we operate and the technical solutions we bring that are all still fresh in varying ways. It can be challenging to educate people about the benefits of decarbonisation and encourage them to adopt a can-do mindset rather than defaulting to the ‘business as usual’ low-cost, low-risk approaches.

One of the common misconceptions about decarbonisation is that it is expensive and risky. However, global economists estimate that carbon emissions will cause significant economic damage in the future, with the majority attributing to health and mortality impacts. By reducing our carbon footprint today, we can positively impact the wellbeing of future generations and contribute to delivering a better world.

What are some of the tools or approaches AECOM has in place to reduce carbon emissions on its projects?

Our teams in Australia and New Zealand have been developing different tools to help us deliver ScopeX – AECOM’s approach to reducing carbon emissions. Specific to the Australia and New Zealand region we have created two major estimating tools:

  • Carbon and Environmental Damage Analysis Report (CEDAR): a general tool for the estimation of infrastructure and buildings emissions
  • Project Emissions Estimation Tool (PEET) for New Zealand roading projects

We also use eTool and OneClickLCA to carry out life cycle assessment and carbon estimation tools here in ANZ and for projects globally. Between these options we have a robust set of growing tools in our toolbox that can effectively measure carbon in projects and provide advice to clients.

Our decarbonisation technical practice covers various project types such as buildings, highways, tunnels, rail, bridges, stormwater, waste processing, critical minerals and resources, logistics, and ports. Regardless of the project type or the stage of a project’s life cycle, we can apply these tools and other methods to help measure and decrease the carbon footprint of projects.

Where have our teams applied the ScopeX approach to reduce carbon emissions?

On several of our projects in Australia and New Zealand, we have applied our ScopeX approach to reduce carbon emissions. For instance, at Heritage Lanes in Brisbane, we explored alternative materials and construction energy sources to reduce the carbon impact by 27% compared to an industry average reference case.

On the Bargara Emerging Communities Infrastructure Program, we proposed a naturalised stormwater stream instead of a conventional concrete-lined drain, which could reduce upfront emissions by 92% and increase life cycle carbon sequestration by over 300%.

We’ve also collaborated with Transport for New South Wales on Easing Sydney’s Congestion to develop Sustainable Pavements Design Guidelines. This work included an analysis of commonly used pavement systems available for implementation across the Sydney metropolitan road network.

Adriaan Window

Originally published Mar 20, 2024

Author: Adriaan Window

Adriaan Window is the Decarbonization Technical Services Lead and an associate director for AECOM's Australia and New Zealand region.