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About Infrastructure sustainability rating schemes

Infrastructure sustainability rating schemes assess the environmental and social credentials of a given infrastructure project, providing a richer picture of their true value to the public.

Infrastructure providers worldwide are increasingly using infrastructure sustainability rating schemes to provide a consistent method of assessing, achieving, and communicating the positive environmental and social outcomes associated with infrastructure projects. These schemes are being applied to a variety of sectors including water, energy and transport.

The benefits of using rating schemes and tools include:

  • Verification of performance (by an independent third party)
  • Project teams are recognised for their achieved outcomes
  • Communication of benefits (highlighting environmental and social outcomes)
  • Raising the sustainability profile of projects and project partners
  • Sharing of ideas at the project and industry level
  • Innovation and greater environmental and social advancements
  • Drive broader sustainability outcomes

Overview of policy

Our Sustainability Rating Scheme Policy aims to drive improved environmental and sustainable outcomes in alignment with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's commitments in Toitū Te Taiao, Our Sustainability Action Plan, our Environmental and Social Responsibility Policy and our Environmental Plan. This helps us recognise successful sustainability performances and ensure these outcomes are incorporated early in the planning phase.

Waka Kotahi owned projects with an estimated capital value over $15 million are required to consider the merits of Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) certification, whilst projects of over $100 million capital value are obliged to complete ISCA certification unless alignment with the objectives, non-monetised and monetised benefits and a strong value for money case demonstrates that it is not practical.

Projects that are part funded by Waka Kotahi and meet the threshold of $15 million are required to consider the merits of using the ISCA – Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating scheme. At a minimum, these projects shall apply the principles outlined in Toitū Te Taiao, the Sustainability Rating Scheme Specification, the Resource Efficiency Policy and other relevant Government policies driving broader sustainability outcomes.

Projects that do not complete ISCA certification need to demonstrate adherence to relevant polices, strategies, and standards including Toitū Te Taiao. Evidence of this will be demonstrated through regular reporting.

This updated policy applies for any new projects from September 2020. Any projects that have already started will not be required to complete an ISCA assessment retrospectively. Existing projects that are currently working towards their Greenroads certification will not be expected to change to the new scheme and will continue applying the Greenroads rating scheme.


Introduction to ISCA

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) is an independent and non-profit organisation, providing a rigorous review of an entire project. The ISCA - IS rating scheme - is a framework used to assess the sustainability performance of a wide range of high-value infrastructure projects. Waka Kotahi uses the ISCA assessment and certification processes during the planning, design and construction stages of our high value capital works projects.  

ISCA(external link)

A recommendation to certify a project to ISCA will be made at the early business case stage to ensure environmental outcomes are optimised. For each project, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will work with the project team to determine the appropriate expectations on achievement of ISCA certification levels and include these in the tender and contract documents.

The IS rating scheme provides a collection of sustainability best practices and awards points for achievement of credits. Three certification levels are available depending upon the total score – Commended, Excellent and Leading. The performance of a project is demonstrated through documentation collated by the project team and verified by independent assessors appointed by ISCA.

Working with Waka Kotahi

All projects over $15 million capital value will assess the merits to complete an ISCA during early business case stage and subsequent project stages to ensure maximum added value and to minimise additional costs.

Waka Kotahi will oversee the process and require access to all documentation and updates relevant to the certification process. The project delivery team will lead the certification process on behalf of Waka Kotahi and are responsible for compiling and submitting all ISCA required documents.

Projects that are part-funded by Waka Kotahi that are above $15million also need to consider the merits of ISCA certification. Additionally, each project team will need to include at least one IS Accredited Professional (ISAP) for the duration of the project – this will also help to ensure ISCA specifications are met.

The requirements to achieve ISCA certification and the rating level required will be specified in our tender documents and will form part of the final contracts.

ISCA certification can also cover operation and maintenance projects. At this stage, Waka Kotahi does not require our maintenance projects to apply sustainability rating schemes. These may be included in the future.

Process for achieving ISCA certification

How project teams can seek certification through and ISCA rating scheme [PDF, 67 KB] 

ISCA Certification fees

Project delivery teams (consultants and contractors) are responsible for registering the project with ISCA and paying the registration and certification fees. For indicative registration and certification fees, see the ISCA website.

ISCA website(external link)

There will also be costs incurred by the Project for the time and resources it takes to develop and submit the documentation and evidence required by ISCA. This is likely to involve costs to investigate various options to improve wider sustainability performance. However, it is anticipated that many credits will be achieved as part of good design practice and construction methods.

Each project is required to have at least one ISAP qualified individual in the management team to increase efficiency of project processes and documentation, as well as ensuring the project is effectively aligned with ISCA requirements from the early planning phase to avoid costly revisions.

Advice / assistance

The following links provide advice on certification steps as well as where to find more information on ISCA processes:  

The Waka Kotahi Safe & Sustainable Transport Team (SSTT) will be available in an advisory role throughout management of the project and provides an interface between the project team and ISCA.

ISCA self-assessment

During the early planning stage, Waka Kotahi will work with the project team to assess the merits of applying ISCA using the IS Scorecard. This determines the value of pursuing various credits and the weighting that should be placed on each. The IS scorecard tool will be used by the project team during the early Business Case phase to specify expectations around credits and levels achieved. The tool will also be used during project tender development by tenderers, and during set up of the ISCA certification process by the successful project team.  

IS scorecard(external link)