How can sustainable infrastructure drive sustainable development?

Roads, ports, power plants, schools, hospitals and town halls are essential public assets and services. Designing, financing, building and managing them require a variety of skills, industries and supply chains. Done right, sustainable infrastructure can therefore trigger environmental and social improvements across multiple industries.

For example, certain types of transportation infrastructure projects, such as the development of electronic bus options, bus rapid transport systems and certain types of highways, can yield significant environmental and health benefits such as reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality. These projects can also provide important social benefits, such as connecting communities with one another and facilitating their access to public services. SAVi currently has several road-related assessments underway and can expand to other types of transport, such as light rail.

Electric vehicles, such as buses, can play a valuable role in reducing the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. These vehicles also produce less air pollution than cars or buses that run on more traditional fuel sources, with significant benefits to public health. Developing dedicated traffic lanes can also make buses a more attractive transportation option than other alternatives, such as cars, that are more polluting. Buses and related infrastructure can also have important social benefits, such as facilitating community access to public services and jobs.

Buildings are another example. Sustainable buildings can yield various environmental benefits, such as energy savings from more energy-efficient construction. This reduced energy use can come from using better insulation or ventilation systems, making it easier to keep buildings hot in the winter and cool in the summer, or by adopting certain design techniques or using certain types of building materials in the construction process. Their benefits go beyond the environmental: energy-efficient buildings also lead to important cost savings for businesses in the longer term, which can offset the costs from high capital outlays in the early years. We are currently exploring SAVi assessments for buildings.

Ultimately, when governments, who serve as the custodians of these public assets and services, tender for sustainable solutions, they also send an important market signal that there is long-term and growing demand for green building materials, sustainable design, clean technologies and more.