The inaugural 2016 GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) Infrastructure Assessment which covers the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of 134 infrastructure assets and 51 infrastructure funds across 53 countries and six continents has ranked Melbourne’s EastLink motorway network first for sustainability among transportation assets from across the globe.
GRESB is an industry-driven organization committed to assessing the ESG performance of real assets globally, including real estate portfolios and infrastructure assets. More than 200 members, of which about 60 are pension funds and their fiduciaries, use the GRESB data in their investment management and engagement process, with a goal to optimize the risk/return profile of their investments. A total of 185 infrastructure entities reported to the 2016 Assessment, including ports, airports, toll roads, and other infrastructure.
“Ensuring that infrastructure assets are managed sustainably is critical to their successful operation and ability to generate stable long-term cash flows,” commented Patrick Kanters, managing director of global real estate and infrastructure at APG Asset Management.
“GRESB Infrastructure is an important step toward more coordination and alignment among the infrastructure investment community, which is reflected in the high number of participants in the first assessment. Ultimately, globally consistent standards for assessing sustainability performance should stimulate sustainability developments in the sector as a whole.”
Opened in 2008, EastLink is Melbourne’s largest tolled motorway network, connecting the Eastern, Monash, Frankston and Peninsula Link freeways, and carrying a quarter of a million vehicles per day. EastLink is operated by ConnectEast, a private company owned by a group of superannuation and sovereign wealth funds. Its environmental credentials are highlighted by its 480ha of landscaping, which includes four million native trees, shrubs and plants, with EastLink operating its own plant nursery and full time landscaping team. More than 60 wetlands treat rainwater running off the road surface before the water is released to local creeks.
Its social benefits include the 22-mile (35km) long EastLink Trail, which is a valuable community resource, used by cyclists, runners and pedestrians, and the network’s architecture features four major artworks and eight smaller artworks, to ensure EastLink remains visually appealing.
Following the release of the 2016 GRESB results, EastLink’s managing director, Charles Griplas, was delighted that the network’s sustainability performance had been recognized internationally.
“To be ranked number one by GRESB for transportation asset sustainability demonstrates that EastLink is a world-leading infrastructure asset,” said Griplas. “With its modern design, 24/7 traffic control room, intelligent transport systems (ITS), incident response teams and traffic control vehicles, all operated by a highly motivated and customer-focused team, EastLink is the safest freeway in Melbourne, offering the highest quality of service and reliability to motorists.
“In an Australian first, EastLink is now upgrading its 10 tunnel exhaust fans to incorporate variable speed drives, which will result in considerable direct energy savings, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 6,441metric tons CO?-e per annum. The upgrade will also reduce vent stack fan noise in the adjacent community.”