Investing to improve infrastructure resilience and mitigate the risks associated with climate change is increasingly regarded as an essential part of project management. But how should project managers go about this?

  1. Addressing the climate change emergency

Climate change has the potential to affect large-scale infrastructure programmes across the UK. As the temperature of the earth increases, more intense rainfall events and rising sea levels are posing a risk to development projects. To avoid potentially costly disruption, there is now an urgency to improve the resilience of existing infrastructure and future proof new structures.

Whilst it can sometimes be difficult for project managers to secure buy-in to build in such resilience, it is crucial to set aside the contingencies needed to protect infrastructure from disaster risks.

  1. Communicating whole-life cost

Project managers must ensure that stakeholders understand the whole-life cost of the project and aim to address the risks associated with climate change at an early stage in the design process. When setting objectives for the project, each individual risk factor should be considered, including those associated with extreme rainfall or record-breaking summer temperatures. By planning ahead, designs can be amended relatively easily, whereas later on the cost of add-ons or reworks could be significant.

  1. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis

To ensure that each risk mitigation strategy is fully considered, project managers should prepare a detailed cost-benefit analysis. This could include information about alternative materials, which are designed to improve the structure’s resilience.

The cost-benefit analysis should include an assessment of both pre-mitigated and post-mitigated risks. In doing so, project managers should consider the likelihood and cost of any damage that might be caused as a result of a flood, for example. Based on this, the project team will be able to weigh up whether the cost of using a more resilient (and more expensive) material is worth the investment from a risk mitigation perspective.

  1. Raising risk understanding

In order to secure buy-in for investment in infrastructure resilience, it is important for project managers to do what they can to increase risk understanding. If stakeholders are going to agree to fund mitigation strategies, they will need to appreciate that potential climate change-related events could have.

First published at Infrastructure Intelligence.