Australian case studies for Impres project now completed

Created: March 5, 2018. Updated: October 18, 2018.

The CCC research project Impres completed further case studies during December 2017. This time in Sydney, Australia. Other completed or ongoing case studies in the project are California – USA, UK and Sweden. In Australia the infrastructure projects Sydney Metro Northwest, Newcastle Light Rail and Lower South Creek water treatment program were interviewed on their experiences from implementing procurement requirements for reduced carbon emissions during construction, operation and maintenance.

Stefan Uppenberg, WSP project manager for the Impres project, and Sofie Absér, also WSP, conducted the interviews.

“It was very inspiring to talk to all the dedicated and skilled persons along the value chain in all of the projects. And it was interesting to see similarities and differences in how they take on the challenge of reducing carbon. We saw a lot of similarities between the projects but we also saw that it can differ quite a bit depending on project size, policy level ambitions, organizational knowledge and resources etc, even if projects are run by the same client” says Stefan Uppenberg.

About the projects

Sydney Metro Northwest, formerly the North West Rail Link, is the first stage of Sydney Metro and will be the first fully-automated metro rail system in Australia. The Sydney Metro Northwest project consists of 16 construction sites and is delivering eight new railway stations and 4000 commuter car parking spaces to Sydney’s growing North West.

The construction of the 2,7 km long Newcastle Light Rail is a key part of revitalising the city centre of Newcastle, 160 km north of Sydney, and will provide a frequent and reliable travel option throughout the city centre. The light rail will be constructed along the old rail corridor and thereby removes a barrier in the city.

Lower South Creek waste water program in Sydney’s South West will provide new and upgraded wastewater infrastructure to support an additional half million people in Sydney’s West by 2040. The Lower South Creek project includes amplified wastewater treatment facilities at Riverstone Wastewater Treatment Plant and St Mary’s Water Recycling Plant, and a new 12km pipeline from St Marys to the Quakers Hill Water Recycling Plant.

Reflections from the case studies

“We have realized through the different case studies that the national “carbon context” is very important for how projects focus on carbon management. For example, since Australia has a high share of fossil energy in their electricity mix, the main priority for the rail projects is to reduce operational carbon, GHG emissions during operation. Whereas in Sweden, where we have very low GHG emissions from electricity use, the focus is on capital carbon, i.e emissions from production of material and the construction phase”, says Stefan.

Sofie says:

“It has also become obvious to us that sustainability assessment schemes can be very important tools for procurement requirements. In Australia both Green Star (for buildings) and IS rating Scheme (for infrastructure) seems to have become more or less standard frameworks to relate to in procurement requirements. On the other hand, we have seen that just requiring a certain score for a rating doesn’t necessarily lead to that carbon reduction targets are met.”

Sofie continues:

“We also found it very interesting to see that Transport for New South Wales as a client had developed detailed Sustainability Design Guidelines to secure that their sustainability policy and goals are understood and met by the designers, contractors and suppliers in the project value chain”.

Further work in Impres

Now the Impres project continues with case studies in UK and Sweden. All case studies will be compiled in reports for each country, which will then be used to draw general conclusions and reflections that will be used as starting points for scientific articles, guidelines etc.


Some preliminary possible themes for articles and guidelines have already been formulated in an early draft:

  • Doing good – a driver for Mega projects
  • Importance of dedicated individuals and executive mandate
  • Importance of carbon context – operational vs. capital carbon
  • Design and level of detail of procurement model
  • Tender evaluation or not
  • The importance and limitations of assessment systems
  • Conflict of boundaries and sub optimizations in using assessment systems
  • The psychology behind re-baselining
  • Collaboration – the key to success
  • Lack of experience – a barrier to include market possibilities