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Yarra Valley Water targets construction carbon reductions and contributes to circular economy

Yarra Valley Water has assessed the full life cycle impact of 10 infrastructure projects to target carbon emissions reductions and increase the use of recycled materials. 

A man wearing orange high vis jacket is working with a large grey pipe.Industry Partnerships Specialist, Sophea Eng, led this initiative and explained how it can drive significant improvements to reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions in construction and maintenance activities. Ms Eng said, “By assessing the carbon impact and opportunities of projects during the design phase, project teams now have the tools enabling them to incorporate carbon impacts into their project's decision making.”

“This means teams can identify high impact activities, work effectively with our supply chain, and seek to incorporate low carbon opportunities,” Ms Eng said.

The insights have also been leveraged to provide a carbon baseline estimate of construction activity through to 2030. 

These projects contribute to Yarra Valley Water’s strong commitments to accelerating its carbon emission reduction ambitions. This includes an ambitious target to reach net zero from mid-2025 and reducing Scope 3 emissions by 66 per cent from 2022 levels by 2030.

Ms Eng said that Yarra Valley Water’s partners’ activity will help the business to achieve the Scope 3 emissions target. “Our work has been strengthened through partnerships with our delivery partners to target carbon emission reduction in design and construction,” Ms Eng said.

Changes in the businesses approach to carbon reduction include increasing the use of recycled, reprocessed and less carbon-intensive materials in construction and maintenance. In 2023-24 Yarra Valley Water is aiming to replace 6,600 tonnes of construction materials with recycled alternatives. That’s the equivalent of replacing over 2.1 million bricks or building 231 new houses with recycled alternative materials. 

Managing Director Yarra Valley Water, Pat McCafferty, said collaboration with contract partners was key to reducing carbon in infrastructure projects: “Our teams have started working with our design and construction partners to reduce our carbon footprint, by challenging material selection, construction methods and design approaches.”

“Our ambition is for this to become a consistent approach across our asset delivery program. By working together with our partners, we can expedite our Scope 3 emissions reduction and make a positive difference for our environment,” Mr McCafferty said.

Yarra Valley Water is a key partner in the Victorian Water Sector Recycled Products Database Steering Committee. The committee is looking at including more recycled products in the water industry’s construction materials database. 

In 2023 the water corporation received recognition for a collaborative project with Barwon Water and North East Water investigating low carbon cement alternatives in construction. The project was awarded top prize and funding by the Victorian Water Minister, the Hon Harriet Shing MP, as part of Water Minister’s Climate Innovation Challenge. 

Ms Eng is now set to share learnings from the assessment at this year’s Australian Water Association’s annual OzWater conference in Melbourne next month. She also received an Outstanding Performance and Contribution award for this analysis as part of Yarra Valley Water’s quarterly staff recognition program last month.

OzWater attendees can hear Sophea Eng present the paper ‘Navigating sustainability: Journey to reducing scope 3 emissions in construction’. Ms Eng will present with James Wilkinson, from design partner Jacobs, on Thursday 2 May as part of the Decarbonisation stream. 


Notes to editors:

  • Brick weights vary but are commonly 3.1 kg and this has been used to calculate the equivalent number of bricks that have been replaced with recycled alternative materials.
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the average Australian home is brick built and 192 square metres (or 9,216 bricks per home).