Sustainable mobility: hitting the road running
As our capital cities continue to grow, evolve and play even larger roles on the global stage, they will need to address a few core components of the way they work.
The latest Census data showed that more than two-thirds of Australians live in capital cities, so it is critical that we continue to focus on city growth, sustainability and mobility. But given that cities are big, complex creatures, where do you start? To actually make any meaningful change, you need to focus on tangible outcomes and specific components of cities, and this is even truer when discussing sustainability.
In Sydney’s case, sustainable mobility is a significant issue. One key part of how Sydney works that hasn’t changed for a long time is freight – but how do you make freight sustainable when it is, by definition, moving large volumes of items across vast distances? Heavy transport isn’t emissions neutral after all.
Freight is big business in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, road freight in Australia accounted for an estimated 195,619 million tonne- kilometres (mass moved over distance) and moved a total of 2132 million tonnes of freight in 2014. That’s a lot of goods and a lot of emissions generated.
Within this context, freight and logistics company Qube Holdings Limited is developing the Moorebank Logistics Park in Sydney. The aim of the park is to take emission-intensive trucks off roads and increase the use of Sydney’s rail network to transport containerised freight to and from Port Botany.
So, why is this logistics park so interesting in a sustainable context? The net greenhouse gas emissions produced by not building this facility are higher than building it.
This is impressive on its own, but becomes staggering considering it will be roughly the size of Sydney’s CBD. Developed across 243 hectares in South-western Sydney, the park will take advantage of its location near the southern Sydney freight line, M5 and M7 motorways, in an area of rapid population and economic growth. By bringing together importers, exporters and hauliers into one location, it creates significant efficiencies, which in turn reduces emissions.
Further, several sustainability initiatives have been identified for implementation at the park. By 2030, when it is at full capacity, these initiatives have the potential to:
- reduce the distance travelled by container trucks on Sydney’s road network by approximately 150,000 kilometres every day (56 million per annum, saving 73,000 tCO2e [tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents] of emissions)
- reduce the distance travelled by long distance interstate freight trucks by approximately 93,000 kilometres every day (34 million kilometres per annum saving 41,000 tCO2e emissions)
- deliver net annual carbon emissions savings equivalent to: removing 11,000 vehicles off the road for a full year or burning 25,000 tonnes of coal, and
- generate 65 million kwh/year (kilowatt hours per year) from renewable energy sources installed on-site capable of powering over 10,000 homes.
Combine these significant environmental benefits with the 1300 jobs that will be created during its construction and up
to 6800 jobs that will be created while it’s operating, and it becomes a very attractive facility.
USING DATA RIGHT
To achieve the dream of this facility, Qube recently received $150 million in funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to develop the park and implement a number of sustainability initiatives.
That all sounds very impressive, but how do you prove that those numbers are achievable and there was significant rigour in their development? It’s all about data.
To help Qube get to the point of quantifying and understanding the potential sustainability value of the facility, Arcadis completed a number of key tasks as part of a sustainability strategy. The sustainability team:
- prepared a detailed freight model to identify total vehicle kilometres travelled due to freight distribution and fuel consumption within heavy vehicles and greenhouse gas emissions
- quantified greenhouse gas emissions generated as a result of electricity use, fuel use and embodied energy associated with the construction and operation of the park
- reviewed the design to include construction materials and methods that reduced embedded energy
- identified a range of energy efficiency measures to minimise fuel and electricity consumption – this included measures to improve locomotive efficiency, switch on-site machinery for lower carbon generating alternatives, capture regenerative power within cranes, and an array of measures to minimise building electricity use (energy efficiency measures were quantified in terms of greenhouse gas reduction potential and costs/ benefits), and
- prepared a precinct-wide solar photovoltaic model – the model projected electricity generation, usage and costs and benefits.
Wrapping this analysis together into a report outlining the potential greenhouse gas savings associated with the development and operation of the park helped Qube clearly package its proposal and secure $150million in funding from CEFC.
ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
The tried and tested path could have been followed, but to actually drive change in our cities, new approaches have be taken. Incorporating renewable energy into a large intermodal facility and incorporating innovative power generation models are some relatively small steps that go a very long way.
The park is a significant milestone in Australia’semissionreductionhistory. Replacing heavy road transport with
freight rail will not only significantly reduce emissions, but also reduce road congestion and make our streets safer to drive.
Malcolm McDowall is managing director Environment and Project Services Australia Pacific, Arcadis.
This article also appears in the August/September issue of Facility Management magazine.