Solidifying Your Infrastructure Objectives

Hope reduced energy costs through the construction of a new water resevoir (prior to construction, they need to pump 200,000 gallons a day to maintain water quality in an open air reservoir).Infrastructure systems such as water supply, wastewater management and solid waste management are subject to many challenges, including aging equipment and systems and increasing construction and operation costs. However, strengthening the sustainability aspect within infrastructure planning and design can help to address these challenges, as well as reduce energy consumption and emissions.

Depending on the size and capabilities of a local government, infrastructure engineering is done in house and/or by consultants to varying degrees. All along that spectrum, it is important to establish sustainability and emissions objectives that will help to guide both staff and consultants in their design work.

Implementation of these considerations in local government policy is in relative infancy, compared to other initiatives such as green building policy. However, examples of potential policies include:

  • Official Community Plan: at a high level, sets directions for energy and resource usage that will influence infrastructure-related emissions.
  • Purchasing: purchasing policy may be updated to require Requests for Proposals and Terms of Reference for infrastructure projects to include sustainability requirements. For example:
    • Vendors to supply information or analyses that indicate net energy and emissions performance of their equipment or design
    • Create baseline assumptions for suppliers, to allow “apples to apples” comparison – e.g. emissions factors, life cycle cost analysis methodology
    • Encourage approaches such as Integrated Resource Recovery (see Management Plans for Infrastructure and Resources)
  • Green/Sustainable Infrastructure Policy: A separate policy or strategy document could be created that embodies infrastructure objectives and possibly performance targets

Potential Objectives

Examples of potential objectives include:

  • Energy: minimize the net energy intensity of the system(s) when planning and designing new systems, upgrades or replacements. Intensities can be evaluated on a per-service-unit basis - for example, kWh/cubic metre of water supplied or wastewater treated.
  • Emissions: minimize the net greenhouse gas intensity, analogous to energy use, for example through reduced energy intensity and use of renewable energy sources.
  • Life cycle costs: minimize the net, long-term cost of service provision on a per-unit basis (e.g. $/cubic metre of water supplied or wastewater treated), considering all elements of the infrastructure systems, capital and operating costs, and potential revenues from sources such as waste heat.
  • Demand management: Develop Demand Side Management (DSM) strategies in parallel with any major infrastructure projects.
  • Materials: consider the energy and emissions intensity of construction materials.

Additional or modified objectives, and potentially performance targets such as emissions reductions, can be developed based on the specific context.