Towards a low carbon economy for infrastructure

IDI researchers are trialling a low carbon Geopolymer Concrete (GPC) containing recycled crushed glass as a replacement for virgin sand. UNSW’s Centre for Infrastructure Engineering & Safety (CIES) has established an Innovative Decarbonised Infrastructure Initiative, (IDI) bringing together research experts in sustainability, decarbonisation, circular economy, and climate-resilient infrastructure. 

With its vision aligned with the NSW Government’s Net Zero by 2050, IDI’s aim is to help our infrastructure and primary industries reduce their emissions utilising a wide variety of innovative measures.  

Through research, development, and commercialisation of innovative ideas, services and technologies, the new inter-disciplinary Initiative will assist government and businesses towards achieving a low carbon economy.

This exciting new research initiative is being coordinated by Dr Ali Kashani, who believes industries and governments across the globe are dependent on innovative technologies to achieve their emissions reduction targets. “This opportunity is welcomed by our researchers with strong research track record in low-carbon infrastructure, “he says, “and we have joined forces to make an impact through IDI.”

The collective scientific and engineering expertise held within IDI is impressive, involving internationally recognised experts as well as emerging researchers – all passionate about finding solutions to the climate and resource challenges we now face.  

IDI research strengths range from expertise in construction automation, decarbonised construction materials, sustainable hybrid structures, smart transport, resource recovery and waste utilisation, the principles of circular economy and net-zero emission strategy.

The work is backed by state-of-the-art research facilities and laboratories at UNSW Sydney and Canberra. 

IDI research projects include decarbonising built environments with hempcrete and green wall technology (ARC Linkage). IDI researcher Scientia Professor Nasser Khalili, who leads the ARC Industry Transformation Research Hub Resilient and Intelligent Infrastructure Systems (RIIS) in Urban, Resources and Energy Sectors, says that industry has shown that it is ready to embrace change. The time is ripe for advanced industry-academic partnerships in this crucial field.  "We have years of experience in developing new emissions-reducing technologies which have tremendous potential for commercialisation and international exportation,” he said. 

IDI researchers are already engaged in nineteen projects including next generation sustainable concrete, designing structures for end-of-life deconstructability, recycling plastic and paperboard waste into value-added asphalt additives, and conducting full international supply chain analysis to allow quantification of global origins and destinations of emissions.

Dr Kashani says IDI provides a one-stop shop for the construction industry to benefit from UNSW’s breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise in innovative low-carbon infrastructure, backed up by state-of-art facilities and laboratories. “We welcome collaboration with industry and the government towards our aim of decarbonised infrastructure by 2050.” 


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CIES researchers Hamid Bayat and Ali Kashani in the CIES Construction Automation Laboratory, part of the IDI

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