Framework and processes for enhancing sustainability deliverables in Australian road infrastructure projects

Lim, Soon Kam (2009) Framework and processes for enhancing sustainability deliverables in Australian road infrastructure projects. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Road and highway infrastructure provides the backbone for a nation’s economic growth. The versatile dispersion of population in Australia and its resource boom, coupled with improved living standards and growing societal expectations, calls for continuing development and improvement of road infrastructure under the current local, state and federal governments’ policies and strategic plans. As road infrastructure projects involve huge resources and mechanisms, achieving sustainability not only on economic scales but also through environmental and social responsibility becomes a crucial issue. While sustainability is a logical link to infrastructure development, literature study and consultation with the industry found that there is a lack of common understanding on what constitutes sustainability in the infrastructure context. Its priorities are often interpreted differently among multiple stakeholders. For road infrastructure projects which typically span over long periods of time, achieving tangible sustainability outcomes during the lifecycle of development remains a formidable task. Sustainable development initiatives often remain ideological as in macro-level policies and broad-based concepts. There were little elaboration and exemplar cases on how these policies and concepts can be translated into practical decision-making during project implementation. In contrast, there seemed to be over commitment on research and development of sustainability assessment methods and tools. Between the two positions, there is a perception-reality gap and mismatch, specifically on how to enhance sustainability deliverables during infrastructure project delivery. Review on past research in this industry sector also found that little has been done to promote sustainable road infrastructure development; this has wide and varied potential impacts. This research identified the common perceptions and expectations by different stakeholders towards achieving sustainability in road and highway infrastructure projects. Face to face interviews on selected representatives of these stakeholders were carried out in order to select and categorize, confirm and prioritize a list of sustainability performance targets identified through literature and past research. A Delphi study was conducted with the assistance of a panel of senior industry professionals and academic experts, which further considered the interrelationship and influence of the sustainability indicators, and identified critical sustainability indicators under ten critical sustainability criteria (e.g. Environmental, Health & Safety, Resource Utilization & Management, Social & Cultural, Economic, Public Governance & Community Engagement, Relations Management, Engineering, Institutional and Project Management). This presented critical sustainability issues that needed to be addressed at the project level. Accordingly, exemplar highway development projects were used as case studies to elicit solutions for the critical issues. Through the identification and integration of different perceptions and priority needs of the stakeholders, as well as key sustainability indicators and solutions for critical issues, a set of decision-making guidelines was developed to promote and drive consistent sustainability deliverables in road infrastructure projects.

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ID Code: 32053
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Yang, Jun, Kumar, Arun, & Skinner, Derek
Keywords: sustainability, road infrastructure, stakeholders, decision making, project delivery
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Urban Development
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Apr 2010 00:08
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:56

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