This is a Smart Water Fund Project

Creation of an Environmental Sustainability Assessment Tool (ESAT)

Project Date: 31 December 2008
Project Status: Complete
Research Organisation: University of NSW
Project Number: 417 - 002

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The Challenge

This project aimed to develop tools for life cycle assessment and costing of urban water service infrastructure.  These costings and assessments are typically conducted by expert consultants to the water industry.  The software tools developed capture expertise specific to Melbourne water service utilities and allow these assessments to be done more cost effectively and with greater regularity by in house personnel.

The Project

ESAT is a simple but flexible tool that enables quick and inexpensive comparisons of alternative water and sewage service solutions.  It was developed in collaboration with Melbourne water businesses with the aim of providing tools that could be used cost effectively by in house personnel on the standard software platform MS Excel.

The Outcome

The water industry needs Life Cycle Assessments to manage population pressure, aging infrastructure, climate change and sustainability.  Sophisticated LCA tools are commercially available, but require specialist expertise, adding significant extra cost to their use.

ESAT is a simple to use Life Cycle Assessment tool that runs on Microsoft Excel.  The tool was developed in collaboration with Melbourne's water businesses and enables quick and inexpensive comparisons on six criteria:

  • Energy consumption,
  • Water use,
  • Greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Nutrient discharge,
  • Physical footprint, and
  • Life cycle cost

ESAT has been successfully used in various real life applications and is a useful compromise between simplistic tools, which constrain the field of possible options, and complex commercially available LCA software which requires significant time and expertise to use effectively. 

The ESAT tool was calibrated against more detailed life cycle assessment work and the results published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal: Schulz M, Short MD, Peters GM. (2012)  A streamlined sustainability assessment tool for improved decision-making in the urban water industry. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 8: 183–193.

For all Smart Water Fund Project enquiries please contact swfinfo@melbournewater.com.au

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