Guiding climate resilience

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

Thanks to a $110,000 grant from Local Government New South Wales (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 has experienced extreme drought, bushfires, coastal erosion events and most recently 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 said the team had developed 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.”

IPWEA, Chief Executive Officer, David Jenkins, said, “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.”

Case studies to test the draft guide on real infrastructure asset projects were developed with councils from around New South Wales. 

The case studies were prepared by testing alternative approaches to make concrete, bitumen, steel, timber and plastics more resilient to climate change. IPWEA Practice Note 12.2 will include the case studies.