Designed and built as a set of structural elements to support the everyday operation of communities, infrastructure—roads, rail lines, electricity lines, water delivery systems, airports—makes up the scaffold for our day-to-day life. Infrastructure sustainability (or IS) is concerned with all these types of infrastructure, including but not limited to social facilities, ports, airports, telecommunications, waste management, water distribution, and other utilities. It refers to the capabilities to design, construct and operate infrastructure in ways that help maintain non-renewable resources, minimise pollution, and utilise renewable/recycle/reusable resources, so as to guarantee that the infrastructure can continue to function indefinitely.

In a restless time of threatening climate change, pollution, and resource depletion, it is now more imperative than ever to reinforce the standards in civil engineering and construction regarding infrastructure sustainability. The first step is for organisations to fully understand the benchmarks that are standard in Australia and other parts of the world, to then be able to implement them appropriately and with optimal efficiency.

How is infrastructure sustainability evaluated in Australia?

In Australia, the official organisation for IS was founded in 2007, under the name Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC), as a result of a collaboration by 19 industry organisations. In 2012, it evolved into the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA).

Developed by ISCA, the IS Rating Scheme have become the only standard set of benchmarks for sustainable infrastructure planning, design, construction and operation in Australia and New Zealand. The system aims to evaluate the sustainability performance of the quadruple bottom line of infrastructure development: Governance, Economic, Environmental, and Social). Such a comprehensive approach has proven to be effective in fostering continuous maintenance and improvement of IS across multiple sectors, especially in public transport and other civil constructions.

In September 2017, based on the IS rating tool v1.2, ISCA launched the IS International Rating tool and the IS Operations tool. A credit-based, flexible rating framework, it is applicable to both developed and developing countries. Its development was in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Currently, the system is only used in Australia and New Zealand.

(The details of the IS Rating Scheme can be found on ISCA’s official website here.)

What are the other systems currently used in the rest of the world?

Outside of Australia, another commonly used system in IS evaluation is BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method). First published in 1990 by the BRE Group (Building Research Establishment) in the UK, it is now one of the world’s leading IS method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure, and buildings. BREEAM covers the entire lifecycle of all built environments (buildings, roads, ports etc.), from new construction to in-use and refurbishment. Its specialty lies in that it places the wellbeing of inhabitants of built environments at the centre, while helping to presere natural resources and improve properties’ value. BREEAM has been used extensively in 83 countries, to register over 2 million buildings and award over 500,000 certificates.

Also developed by the BRE Group, CEEQUAL (Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment and Award Scheme) is an evidence-based IS assessment, rating, and award scheme for civil engineering, landscaping, infrastructure, and public projects. Coupled with BREEAM, it has become influential in shaping the IS agenda for a vast range of infrastructure projects.

Why infrastructure sustainability? Why now?

The current Australia’s population of 25 million is projected to rise to 42.5 million by 2056 and to 62.2 million by 2101. This means that is is most likely impossible for the country and in particular the construction and civil engineering industry to rely solely on our depleting reservoir of non-renewable energy and other non-renewable resources.

To support such growth in the size of Australian communities, sustainability is one of the most effective aspects when constructing public infrastructure. Widely implemented, infrastructure sustainability will assist us in optimising our long-term environmental, social and economic outcomes. At the moment, many companies in the sector—the Kypreos Group included—have already integrated multiple innovations in sustainable construction into our processes. For example, in the past two years, several roads in the ACT, Victoria, and NSW have been paved with environmentally friendly asphalt containing tonnes of recycled glass bottles and plastic bags. This usage of recycled asphalt products contributes greatly to lowering carbon footprint.

Above all, the key is to improve organisations and individuals in the industry and the general public’s awareness of infrastructure sustainability, for its to truly create strong impact across all construction and engineering sectors.


The Kypreos Group take Infrastructure Sustainability seriously. We are conscious about not only delivering quality jobs for our clients but also performing our social and environmental responsibilities throughout the process. We are constantly improving our products and production methods to improve safety, eco-friendliness, and environmental sustainability. To see our innovations in sustainable construction, visit our website.

Civil engineering and disaster management

Natural disasters – bushfires, floods, cyclones, or earthquakes – with their suddenness and ferocity, can severely disrupt the functioning of a society or community and result in mass environmental, economic, and human losses. These serious impacts could be prevented and alleviated with quality civil engineering planning and construction, as the industry plays a major role in shaping the physical fabric of the functioning of our society. Both preparation and post-disaster recovery must be considered throughout the planning, design, and construction process. This way, infrastructures can withstand disruption, absorb disturbance, and can be repaired more quickly afterwards.

Particularly, civil engineers are responsible for developing technologies which, once implemented, can enhance the strength and durability of infrastructures. This is then followed by the construction of infrastructures that are highly resistant to natural disasters. Some state-of-the-art developments are nanotechnology systems used for real-time condition assessment of structures’ safety and security, and identification of incipient damage in structures suffering from long-term deterioration.

In the case of unavoidable destruction and damage, it is then the industry’s obligation to partake in rescue operation and restoration works after the disaster has passed. This reconstruction involves not only recovery, but also improvement to the disaster-resistance qualities of infrastructures. Depending on the goal, adjustments might include watertight construction and floodwalls against flooding, hurricane straps, or soil reinforcement to prevent damages from landslide/mudslide.

Worldwide, countries prone to natural catastrophes have developed construction techniques tailored to most effectively protect manmade infrastructures and dwellers from danger. Japan’s notorious earthquake history of approximately 1500 earthquakes per year means that the country now has the most resilient buildings—including skyscrapers—in the world. The secret lies in that these buildings “dance along” as the ground beneath them moves. Buildings are designed to absorb as much seismic energy as possible, through a process called seismic isolation, in which the structures are put on a form of shock absorber to resist the motions created by the earthquake. These shock absorber systems can be as simple as 30-50cm-thick rubber blocks, used as the “footpad” for buildings. Motion dampers filled with liquid (such as oils) are installed throughout the height of the skyscrapers. Some elegant protective mesh is sometime added as both part of the intentional architectural design and part of the earthquake-proof system.

In Australia — against fire and ice

Every year, Australia suffers from an enormous number of roughly 50,000 bushfires. One of the worst disasters was the bushfire crisis in Victoria back in 2015, claiming at least 100 lives, hundreds of acres of property, and causing nation-wide distress.

To cope with the danger and potential destruction, a number of additional design, specification and construction parameters are essential to building in a bushfire-prone area. The Australian Standard AS 3959 assign risk categories to bushfire prone areas based on six different bushfire attack levels (BALs), from very low risk to extreme risk (Flame Zone). Each new home has to comply with the construction requirements for its zone’s respective BAL classification, regarding the design, composition, and construction/installation of windows, verandahs, carports, floors, roofs, and external walls.

Less severe, but still dangerous, are hailstorms and thunderstorms. A decade ago, most of Sydney’s roofing materials were evaluated as too flimsy to withstand the onslaught of summer storm season. Damages could cost up to millions of dollars to repair. Since then, standards have only gone up, to protect not only properties but lives. Hail netting structures are installed to cover vehicle parking lots, airport parking shade structures, and machinery storage spaces. New types of storm-resistant roofing tiles have also been developed and put in commercial use.

At the moment, one of the biggest challenges in terms of hail-proofing is that solar panels, which have become prevalent in households across the country, are still prone to severe damage by hailstorms. However, the number of hailstorms with hails large enough to cause significant damage is quite low, and efforts are still going into improving the weather-proofing capabilities of this environmentally-friendly form of energy source.


The Kypreos Group’s mission is to provide the civil engineering industry with quality materials and services which are harmonious with the environment and which stands the test of time – view more of our works here on our website.