“eTool’s Life Cycle Assessment helped us understand how future impacts from energy, water, materials, recycling and waste will influence Greenhouse Gas emissions and whole of life costs of our project. It enabled us to identify and compare different options to support informed decision-making with our Alliance partners and our target of a sustainable, Green Star certified railway station “.
Caroline Minton, METRONET Sustainability Lead
Integration of Life Cycle Design and Assessment principles into project design planning is an important step in making the infrastructure more sustainable. A number of Australian State Government agencies have recognised this, including the METRONET program of works, which has a Sustainability Strategy (2019-2022) that outlines that each project identifies opportunities for emissions reductions and integrates life cycle methods into design development and decision making.
The new Bayswater Station project will become a key METRONET precinct with the Midland Line, Forrestfield-Airport Link and Morley-Ellenbrook Line connections, giving people the option to travel to the Airport, Swan Valley tourist region, the CBD and beyond.
eTool were engaged by the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA) to perform an LCA at the Concept Design stage for the redevelopment of the Bayswater Station and surrounding railway infrastructure. The modelling helped identify key environmental impact areas for the project over its estimated 120 years lifespan including all life cycle stages (initial construction, operation, refurbishment and maintenance, and the eventual end-of-life impacts).
Life Cycle Design for continuous improvement of project’s performance
The Life Cycle Design of the Bayswater Station provided the PTA WA with an opportunity to test the Concept Design and understand which elements were driving the greatest environmental impacts. Materials, labour and end-of-life cycle impacts associated with the infrastructure are substantial and can make up to 70% of all impacts.
eTool’s LCA highlighted that 63% of emissions of the infrastructure project were coming from materials used, unlike in the buildings sector where these make up around 30-35%. This emphasises how important it is to consider life-cycle impacts coming from materials and their maintenance from the earliest phase of the project.
As Rob Campbell, the eToolLCD Services Engineer, explained:
“Working with the PTA WA design team was insightful and highly motivating, as it helped to establish a process of continuous improvement of this project’s design concept. We trained some engineers working at PTA WA who will be able to conduct their own LCAs with eToolLCD in the future and showed what integrated life cycle design is about. We modelled everything: buildings, roads, bridges, railways, platforms, lighting, civil works.”
Initial focus of assessment was on construction materials and process impacts and given the nature of the project, other impact areas like lighting and product durability and maintenance were highlighted.
What was interesting about the Bayswater Station, was that the impact areas were quite different to other projects eTool had worked on. Rob gives an example:
ʼʼWe found that construction impacts and maintenance impacts were relatively high in comparison to other projects. In fact, the three impact areas of construction, maintenance and operational energy were each almost equal. This posed the challenge of identifying strategies to reduce environmental impacts in areas that wouldn’t normally be considered in other projects. As much of this was new to eTool, it also meant working closely with the PTA WA team to ensure the inputs to the model were accurate, particularly when it came to items like rail and ballast maintenance, for example”.
A Very low-carbon design of railway infrastructure
Together with the PTA WA team eTool went a bit further and showed how to model a ‘very low carbon design scenario’ which was targeting over 90% GHG reduction compared to a Benchmark.
eTool suggested to use low-carbon materials like Cross Laminated Timber, smart lighting, electricity from on-site operating PV, local suppliers, low carbon concrete.
ʼʼWe had the most fun with this part, says Rob Campbell. Some of it was a bit pie in the sky, but I think that as an exercise it added real value to the project for the PTA WA team, and I hope that some of the ideas will be considered for future METRONET projects if not for Bayswater Station”.
Find more details about this project and related articles below:
LCA in Sustainable Infrastructure (Australian and international policies and frameworks embedding life cycle principles and methods)