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How climate-resilient infrastructure can shape our future

As our world moves into an era characterised by climate uncertainty, the significance of climate-resilient infrastructure is becoming increasingly evident.

During a time defined by rapidly changing climate patterns and increased frequency of extreme weather events, modifying existing infrastructure plays a pivotal role in shaping our world’s resilience and sustainability. 

As climate change accelerates, its impact on communities, economies, and ecosystems intensifies. In the past, a significant portion of our infrastructure was designed to suit previous climatic conditions, making it susceptible to the evolving environment. To guarantee resilience and sustainability, future climate projections must be integrated into planning and management strategies. This proactive approach will minimise potential losses, safeguard communities, and preserve vital supply chains.

From design to sustainable energy solutions, we delve into strategies which can transform the building and construction landscape, and contribute to a brighter and more secure future for generations to come. 

How our infrastructure is being affected by climate change

Australia’s infrastructure is facing significant impacts from climate change, presenting a range of challenges across various sectors, including building and construction. A series of unprecedented events – such as the global pandemic, bushfires, droughts, floods, and extreme weather events – have brought into focus Australia’s susceptibility to both natural and non-natural hazards. 

Looking ahead, the economic impact of natural disasters is projected to rise dramatically. By 2050, the annual cost of natural disasters in Australia is predicted to soar from an average of $18 billion per year to over $39 billion per year.

Some of the key ways that Australia’s infrastructure is being affected include:

  • Extreme weather events: Australia is experiencing more frequent and intense extreme weather events, including heatwaves, droughts, floods, and storms. These events can cause damage to infrastructure, roads, and bridges, as well as disrupt transportation networks. They can also lead to power outages and water supply issues.
  • Sea level rise: Many coastal cities and communities are at risk of inundation and erosion, endangering critical facilities, roads, and buildings located near the coastline.
  • Water supply and quality: Changes in precipitation patterns and more frequent droughts are affecting water supply and quality. Water infrastructure, such as reservoirs and pipelines, must adapt to variable water availability, which poses challenges for water management and distribution systems.

To address these concerns, Australia must focus on climate adaptation strategies, such as:

  • Climate-resilient design
  • Infrastructure retrofitting
  • Long-term planning

In addition, funding, coordination and strategic alignment from all levels of government also plays a crucial role in infrastructure planning to bolster climate resilience.

Design strategies for road, building, and bridges construction to withstand climate change challenges

Climate resilience in road, building, and bridge construction involves a proactive approach, incorporating innovative technologies, adaptive designs, and sustainable practices. Some considerations for each infrastructure type include:

Climate-resilient roads:

  • Proper drainage: Constructing roads with effective drainage systems to manage increased rainfall and prevent water accumulation reduces the risk of flooding and erosion.
  • Elevated design: Elevating roads in flood-prone areas minimises the chances of inundation and damage during extreme weather events.
  • Durable materials: Using climate-resistant materials for road construction, that are capable of withstanding temperature fluctuations and extreme weather conditions, will assist in protecting against damage.

Climate-resilient buildings:

  • Energy efficiency: Buildings should be designed with energy-efficient features to adapt to changing temperature patterns and reduce reliance on heating and cooling systems.
  • Thermal insulation: Thermal insulation should be enhanced to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and used to reduce energy consumption during heatwaves and cold spells.
  • Adaptive design: Consider flexible and adaptable building designs that can be modified to accommodate future climate changes.

Climate-resilient bridges:

  • Robust structural design: Engineer bridges with robust and durable materials to withstand increased stresses from flooding and extreme weather events.
  • Inspection and maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain bridges to identify potential vulnerabilities and address them promptly.

How Barker Ryan Stewart can assist you

Strengthening infrastructure resilience is vital in mitigating disaster risks, facilitating faster recovery, and minimising the toll on physical, social, and economic aspects.

Our team is experienced in providing engineering, surveying, and planning services for a range of projects focused on climate resilience, from surveying flood levees to planning for coastal erosion.

Our comprehensive approach ensures smooth coordination and streamlined project execution, allowing us to help deliver high-quality infrastructure and create better outcomes for our communities.

Cover image sourced via Unsplash.

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