Developing a Business Case for Sustainability – A “How To” Guide

It was with great pleasure that I, along with my ISCA Contractor’s Working Group Co-Chair, launched our “How To” Guide for Developing a Business Case for Sustainability Initiatives in Infrastructure at the Annual ISCA Conference last month. By the way, this blog isn’t intended to be just all about ISCA or the ISCA conference, although you’d be forgiven for thinking so given the posts so far! Just it was an interesting and inspiring catalyst for me to get writing on this blog again after a hiatus of a few years (I’ve scrubbed out previous posts so I could start afresh, so you won’t find them on here I’m afraid).

Anyway, I digress. Yes, we finally launched our “How To” guide last month and we were all very excited by this. “We” being the ISCA Contractor’s Working Group – a group of committed and passionate individuals, each sustainability leaders within some of Australia’s largest and most significant civil construction organisations, giving their time to participate and further the interests of sustainable infrastructure development.

At time of writing the Contractor’s Working Group is comprised of Glenn Hedges (EIC Activities) and myself as Co-Chairs (a group leadership situation which has worked incredibly well and allowed us to share the duties and driving of the group, at a time when we’re all extremely busy), Rory Bracken (Fulton Hogan), Tim Clarke (LendLease/ NorthConnex JV), Scott Frazer (John Holland), Samantha Hayes (CPB Contractors), Hollie Mapson (Laing O’Rourke), Mark Sabolch (Lendlease) and Rick Walters (UGL).

The raison d’etre for the Group was (and still is) to provide feedback to ISCA on sustainability and application of the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating tool from a construction perspective, and to essentially assist ISCA in embedding sustainability into the Australian (and now further afield) infrastructure development and delivery industries.

The Group has been together for the best part of two years now, and one of the early discussions we had was around what we considered to be the main barriers to the uptake and inclusion of sustainability considerations (including the IS rating tool) into infrastructure projects.

We had a broad and wide-ranging discussion around this, but eventually settled on a list of around 5 or 6 key items. The top three from this list were:

  1. What we felt to be a lack of understanding on the client/ project proponent side.
  2. Lack of internal understanding around sustainability (constructors).
  3. Perception of cost impost and a lack of understanding of value.

And it was felt (after, again, a broad and wide-ranging discussion) that the above points could potentially be overcome, or least served, by assisting sustainability professionals (or those with an interest or responsibility foisted upon them!) to help talk in the language if decision makers and present arguments in the language of decision makers. This boiled down to the decision to develop up a “How To” guide for practitioners – be they client side, government, constructor, engineering design, wherever – to develop a convincing business case for a sustainability initiative.

The Guide has been developed in a way to be as simple as possible to follow – with a clear eight step process, yet scaleable for differing sizes of sustainability issues and/ or projects. It also aims to assist in conveying both the tangible and intangible impacts of a proposed initiative in a language that will resonate with decision makers. There are also a couple of worked examples that are followed through each of the steps as a guidance point, and an Excel tool with some example templates provided.

8steps

 

Prior to publishing the Guide went through a peer review process with individuals of varying levels of experience, knowledge and expertise from our respective organisations kindly taking their time to read and provide comments on what worked, what didn’t, what needed to be tweaked and what should definitely not change. Thanks to all who helped us with that!

That was an important step, as the Group had been working as a collective on the Guide for a not inconsiderable period of time – probably somewhere around the 15-16 month mark! We needed to be sure it was hitting the mark for those people that would ultimately be using or it or reviewing and signing off on potential initiatives coming resulting from those putting business cases together. And apparently it was.

So launch we did! The Guide is now available as a resource on the ISCA website:

http://isca.org.au/56-infrastructure-sustainability-resources/documents/956-developing-a-business-case?highlight=WyJidXNpbmVzcyIsImNhc2UiLCJidXNpbmVzcyBjYXNlIl0=

And we’re aware that it may need to evolve in the future, most likely, as thoughts and ideas develop and progress and feedback comes in from around the traps. But it’s ready for you to take a look at and use. As a Group we’re proud of our efforts to help further the cause of sustainable development and assist practitioners in, hopefully, embedding more sustainability initiatives, be they large or small, one-offs or more strategic approaches, individual initiatives or multi-layered solutions, into more infrastructure projects in the region

And in my next blog post I promise to write about something other than ISCA!

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