image of a climate change impacted landscape

In an industry facing increasing climate change challenges, there is a critical need for strong infrastructure now more than ever. With extreme weather events becoming increasingly frequent and intense, infrastructure stakeholders face mounting pressure to adapt to these evolving environmental conditions. 

Addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift in how we plan, design, and manage our urban built environment. As a result, stakeholders across the infrastructure landscape, from construction companies to urban planners and developers, are embracing more innovative approaches to enhance resilience against climate-related hazards. 

In this Q&A session with PlanRadar, we delve into the strategies and solutions available for confronting climate change head-on through smarter, more resilient infrastructure development. 

How is climate change impacting Australian infrastructure development? How does climate change affect infrastructure maintenance and management?  

Leon Ward: 

For many construction companies, a climate change-resilient infrastructure strategy involves several essential elements. It begins with conducting thorough risk assessments and vulnerability analyses to identify potential impacts from climate change, including extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and temperature fluctuations. Adaptation planning and design are crucial components, integrating resilience measures into infrastructure projects by considering climate change projections and implementing strategies to enhance resilience. Resources should be allocated to invest in resilience measures, such as retrofitting existing infrastructure, adopting green solutions, and incorporating sustainable design practices. Additionally, monitoring systems are necessary to track infrastructure performance and environmental conditions, facilitating early detection of vulnerabilities and timely maintenance.  

Ultimately though, we recognise that community engagement and stakeholder collaboration are vital aspects of a successful strategy – raising awareness of climate change risks and gathering input on adaptation priorities from diverse stakeholders can significantly help to foster collective action and alignment with resilience goals. 

Vitaly Berezka:  

We’re observing that climate change adaptation also intersects with urban planning and development through several key avenues. Land use planning integrates climate resilience considerations to guide development in less vulnerable areas, employing zoning regulations, land use restrictions, and incentives. Climate resilience measures are incorporated into urban infrastructure design and construction, including green solutions, improved drainage systems, and buildings designed to withstand extreme weather events. Transportation networks and mobility solutions are planned to withstand climate impacts like flooding and heatwaves, diversifying options and enhancing critical infrastructure resilience. Urban green spaces are preserved and expanded to mitigate the urban heat island effect, offering cooling and improved air quality through parks, green roofs, and urban forests. Community resilience is built through social and economic initiatives, providing access to affordable housing, healthcare, and promoting community-led adaptation efforts. Through these measures, cities enhance their resilience, securing the well-being of residents both presently and in the future. 

What are the key challenges faced in creating resilient infrastructure? How do you measure the effectiveness of climate resilience strategies in infrastructure? 

Leon Ward: 

In Australia, the task of building resilient infrastructure brings forth a myriad of hurdles. One of the prime concerns revolves around grasping and mitigating the multifaceted aspects of climate risks. These risks span from extreme weather occurrences to sea-level elevations, temperature shifts, and alterations in precipitation patterns, all of which manifest differently across regions. It’s imperative to allocate sufficient resources and funds towards resilience initiatives, especially amidst the plethora of competing infrastructure demands and budgetary constraints. 

For instance, take the recent events in New South Wales, where over 20 public park infrastructure sites were discovered to contain bonded asbestos-laden mulch in February. This led to school closures and even prompted the cancellation of a Mardi Gras event celebration. As a result, the City of Sydney is now doubly committed to ensuring that mulch and fertilizers used in public green spaces are asbestos-free, given the potential hazards exposed by these events. 

Moreover, the longevity of infrastructure assets demands resilience measures that stand the test of time while acknowledging the intricate interdependencies between various infrastructure systems. Breaking through policy and regulatory barriers becomes paramount to incentivize proactive planning for climate change impacts. 

Another hurdle lies in navigating the uncertainties inherent in climate change projections and future scenarios, a task integral to long-term planning. Engaging a diverse array of stakeholders, spanning government bodies, private sector entities, and community organizations, proves essential for fostering alignment and collaboration in resilience planning and execution. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

To assess the effectiveness of climate resilience strategies in infrastructure, key metrics and indicators can be utilized. Infrastructure performance is evaluated during extreme weather events, focusing on functionality, reliability, and durability. In these instances, damage and downtime are quantified (including repair costs and service disruptions caused by climate impacts). Operational resilience measures the ability of infrastructure systems to maintain essential services during disturbances like floods or storms.  

We have found that cost-benefit analyses can help to compare resilience measure costs with benefits like reduced damages and improved long-term performance. Community resilience is assessed, considering the community’s ability to adapt and recover from climate challenges. Lastly, adaptation planning and implementation effectiveness, including stakeholder engagement, are evaluated. By employing these metrics, stakeholders can assess the effectiveness of resilience strategies and enhance infrastructure sustainability in the face of climate change. 

In your opinion, what is the importance of proactive planning in addressing climate change impacts? What are the financial implications of climate-resilient infrastructure investments? 

Leon Ward: 

At PlanRadar we believe that before anything else, proactive planning is vital for addressing Australian climate change impacts, enabling anticipation, preparation, and mitigation of potential risks. It’s essential for several reasons. It helps identify vulnerabilities and prioritize adaptation measures to reduce climate-related impacts on infrastructure, communities, and ecosystems, such as extreme weather events and sea-level rise. It also optimizes resource allocation by identifying cost-effective adaptation options, avoiding reactive emergency responses, and saving long-term resources.  

Moreover, proactive planning contributes to the long-term sustainability of Australian communities and ecosystems by fostering adaptive capacity and resilience, integrating climate resilience into planning processes for infrastructure projects, land use plans, and policies.  

Vitaly Berezka: 

For the Australian infrastructure landscape, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure entails a range of financial implications but more importantly, offers substantial long-term benefits. While initial costs may be higher, such investments yield cost savings over time through avoided damages, reduced maintenance expenses, and prolonged asset lifespan. Additionally, they mitigate financial risks linked to climate change impacts, such as property damage and business interruptions, safeguarding investments and ensuring service continuity. Lower insurance premiums can result from these investments by demonstrating reduced risk and improved resilience.  

These kinds of infrastructure projects also help to stimulate economic growth by creating jobs, attracting investment, and enhancing productivity; supporting local economies, competitiveness, and sustainable development as a result. 

What role can technology play in enhancing the resilience of infrastructure? 

Leon Ward: 

Technology significantly enhances the climate change resilience of Australian infrastructure. Interconnected sensor tools and remote monitoring systems can enable real-time data collection on infrastructure performance and environmental conditions, for proactive maintenance and intervention. Predictive analytics and modelling tools can assess climate change impacts over time, which informs adaptation strategies and future scenario planning.  

Additionally, the increasing accuracy of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can support spatial analysis and decision-making, identifying suitable locations for infrastructure projects considering factors like flood risk and extreme weather events.  

Vitaly Berezka: 

We understand that technology also plays a critical role in enhancing the climate change resilience of Australian infrastructure through collaborative design and construction processes with Building Information Modelling (BIM). This enables stakeholders to optimize design solutions and enhance resilience. Digital platforms and communication technologies can further promote effective coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, facilitating information sharing and decision-making for more integrated and resilient infrastructure management.  

At the end of the day, leveraging technology effectively ensures infrastructure better withstands climate change impacts, ensuring the long-term sustainability of Australia’s built environment. 

What are the essential elements of a resilient infrastructure strategy? How does climate change adaptation intersect with urban planning and development? 

Leon Ward: 

A resilient infrastructure strategy entails several key elements – the first and most impactful of which is community engagement. Community engagement and stakeholder collaboration raise awareness of climate change risks and gather input on adaptation priorities, fostering collective action and alignment with broader resilience goals. When this occurs before any other action takes place, we find that infrastructure projects of any size and scale start with a shared and specific sustainability focus in mind. 

Comprehensive risk assessments and vulnerability analyses can be conducted to identify potential climate change impacts, and adaptation plans are developed, which integrates resilience measures into infrastructure projects’ planning and design early. Resources are allocated to implement resilience measures, such as retrofitting existing infrastructure and adopting sustainable design practices 

Vitaly Berezka: 

We’re seeing that climate change adaptation intersects with Australian urban planning and development in multiple ways. One way is through the integration of climate resilience considerations into land use planning. This helps guide development in less vulnerable areas through zoning regulations, land use restrictions, and incentives for sustainable practices. Urban infrastructure design and construction can also incorporate climate resilience measures, such as green material solutions, improved drainage systems, and buildings designed to withstand extreme weather events.  

Transportation networks and mobility solutions are also planned to resist climate impacts such as flooding and heatwaves. This involves diversifying options, enhancing public transit systems, and fortifying critical transportation infrastructure. Additionally, the preservation and expansion of urban green spaces play a vital role in mitigating the urban heat island effect – which provides passive cooling and improved air quality through parks, green roofs, and urban forests. 

What are some of the potential barriers to implementing climate-resilient infrastructure solutions for Australia? 

Leon Ward: 

In 2024, several barriers can hinder the implementation of climate-resilient infrastructure solutions in Australia. For many smaller companies, perceived or actual higher upfront costs compared to conventional approaches, along with short-term budget constraints, so this may discourage investments despite long-term benefits.  

Additionally, current limits to funding availability and accessible financial mechanisms pose challenges, particularly for smaller municipalities and less economically developed regions. Regulatory barriers and inconsistent policies may impede adoption from state to state, which can hinder innovation pace and slow widespread industry adoption.  

We are also conscious that a shortage of technical capacity and expertise in climate resilience planning and implementation limits effective deployment. In this instance, coordinated efforts are required to overcome financial, regulatory, technical, and institutional challenges and accelerate the adoption of climate-resilient infrastructure solutions. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Several potential barriers could hinder the implementation of climate-resilient infrastructure solutions in Australia. There may be inadequate data availability – as quality and accessibility can impede the assessment of climate risks and development of evidence-based strategies, which in turn has a limiting effect on effective resource allocation.  

Additionally, limited public awareness and understanding of climate resilience may undermine support and investment, where fragmentation and coordination challenges among stakeholders and sectors involved in infrastructure planning can lead to suboptimal decision-making.  

Lastly, uncertainty about future climate impacts and perceived risks associated with resilience solutions may deter proactive action. Addressing these barriers is crucial to unlocking the full potential of resilience investments and building infrastructure better prepared for climate change impacts, promoting community well-being. 

How can stakeholders collaborate to promote climate-resilient infrastructure development? 

Leon Ward: 

To effectively promote climate-resilient infrastructure development, stakeholders can utilize several key strategies.  

They can start by facilitating dialogue and collaboration among diverse stakeholders, such as government agencies, private sector entities, academic institutions, NGOs, and community groups. Engaging these stakeholders early in the planning process ensures their perspectives are included. Additionally, fostering partnerships and alliances to pool resources and share knowledge is crucial. This involves establishing formal partnerships like PPPs to collectively finance and implement resilience projects. Sharing information and best practices related to climate resilience among stakeholders and providing training and educational resources also enhances capacity.  

Vitaly Berezka: 

We believe that stakeholders can collaborate to promote climate-resilient infrastructure development through developing innovative financing mechanisms and risk-sharing arrangements, such as green bonds and public-private models, can help overcome financial barriers and incentivize investment.  

Another important strategy is to establish knowledge exchange platforms to facilitate learning and collaboration among stakeholders – which encourages peer exchange and joint problem-solving, and also fosters ownership and participation through consultation and participatory decision-making.  

What are some of the current emerging trends in climate-resilient infrastructure design and construction? 

Leon Ward: 

Over the past five years, we’ve observed several emerging trends shaping climate-resilient infrastructure design and construction. Advancements in materials science and technology have led to innovative materials and construction techniques, such as advanced composites and smart sensors, which enhance infrastructure durability and performance. Additionally, modular and prefabricated construction techniques are increasingly being adopted to expedite project delivery, improve construction quality, and minimize disruption.  

With increasing initiatives and industry-wide adoption, we’re seeing that data-driven decision-making, utilizing analytics and simulation tools can increasingly optimize infrastructure performance under changing climate conditions. There’s also a heightened focus on community engagement and social equity, ensuring diverse voices and needs are considered in infrastructure planning to foster inclusivity and responsiveness.  

These trends signify a shift towards holistic, adaptive, and nature-based approaches driven by the imperative to effectively address climate change risks. 

Vitaly Berezka: 

Several emerging trends are currently shaping climate-resilient infrastructure design and construction. There’s a growing recognition of the effectiveness of nature-based solutions, such as green infrastructure, in mitigating climate change impacts. These solutions provide flood protection, manage stormwater, reduce heat islands, and conserve biodiversity. Integrated water management approaches, which combine grey and green infrastructure, help manage stormwater runoff, reduce flood risks, and enhance water quality through methods like permeable pavements and rain gardens. 

Climate-responsive building design principles can allow developers to prioritize energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and resilience to extreme weather events through more passive strategies like natural ventilation and daylighting. Embracing these trends enables stakeholders to construct more resilient, sustainable, and equitable infrastructure systems prepared to withstand the changing climate’s impacts. 


About Leon Ward

Leon Ward serves as the Digital Construction Specialist at PlanRadar, bringing extensive expertise in electrical, mining, and project management garnered over a span of more than ten years. 

With a comprehensive understanding of the challenges associated with obtaining precise and timely data from field operations to the back office, Leon has built up invaluable insight experience to address these obstacles effectively. 

Leveraging his comprehensive knowledge and extensive industry experience, Leon provides indispensable insights and direction in construction management and process enhancement. Having contributed to numerous notable projects across Australia, his work is highly regarded by clients, teams, and audiences due to his hands-on and customer-centric approach in integrating technology seamlessly into the construction industry. At PlanRadar, he leads Australia’s construction digitization efforts, driving innovation through smart SaaS solutions. 

About Vitaly Berezka

Vitaly Berezka is leading business development across Central Asia, MENA and APAC regions for the prominent construction and real estate software company PlanRadar.  

With an engineering degree in construction, Vitaly as well holds an executive degree in business administration. His experience in the real estate development and construction industry spans more than 15 years. Since 2013, he has held management positions in international companies that provide innovative solutions to the construction and real estate industries.  

Besides lecturing on digitalization topics at universities, he is the author of scientific publications and the co-author of three books. Vitaly is a member of International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI). 


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