Caleb Clarke and Greer Lees.
The great challenge to value intangible benefits associated with infrastructure projects is being tackled around the world. Valuing intangibles can be driven by wanting to justify trying something new, or through government or organisational commitments to a goal of sustainability. These intangibles include valuing biodiversity, eco-system services and community well-being. Some of these benefits are also not realised for years to decades after the project is completed.
Sustainability assessment and decision frameworks are not new. However, there are now a number of tried and tested systems available for infrastructure projects. Some of these are being piloted and adopted by key infrastructure organisations in New Zealand. These infrastructure providers are now able to evaluate the sustainability of their projects and are finding that in addition to project outcomes, the opportunity for organisational benefits are far wider than the project.
This paper discusses the fundamentals of sustainability assessment systems and summarises the experiences of some of those organisations piloting the use of these systems in New Zealand, in addition to describing the value that these organisations have derived from Sustainability Assessment processes. A specific focus has been put on the value for the stormwater aspects of their works. Outcomes have surprised the pilot organisations and include what might be considered the ‘holy grail’ of Sustainability – organisations in transition to integrating sustainable practices into their business as usual.