A circular economy for infrastructure is the only way forward

Watch the video of A circular economy for infrastructure is the only way forward held on Thursday 8 July 2021.

View the video of the panel discussion.

200 years of industrial revolution has seen society adopt a linear model in which goods are manufactured from raw materials, sold, used and ultimately discarded as waste. Alarmingly, Australia is depleting its resources at an accelerated rate generating unprecedented waste and emissions, demanding us to fast track the linear to circular economic transition. This shift to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle principles is imperative.

Until now, infrastructure planning for water, energy, waste and transport has been conducted in isolation, creating unnecessary barriers to the adoption of circular infrastructure when the sectors invariable overlap. We need to re-think our existing and future infrastructure to ensure interconnectivity which leverages insightful data. We must manage energy, water, waste and transport simultaneously as a singular ecosystem to ensure resilience, sustainability and capability to withstand the impacts of climate change.

Our expert panel will discuss the research, digital insights and technology innovations needed to make our siloed infrastructure sectors more cohesive to achieve a circular economy.


Ari Hammerschlag

Sustainability Team Leader – Building Engineering, GHD

Ari Hammerschlag is a Chartered Civil Engineer who leads the Built Environment Sustainability Team at GHD in Victoria. Prior to starting at GHD, Ari worked overseas in the UK, Middle East and Europe for over 5 years. While overseas, Ari was involved in several projects which looked at how to provide remote location developments with adequate utility and infrastructure supply. These projects demanded a circular economy for utility infrastructure as resilience on grid connection was not an option. He was involved in the planning of integrated resource systems which provided remote developments with self-sufficient utility networks. Ari’s background is in sustainable infrastructure planning and design for land development projects, with experience working in land use planning, city masterplanning, developing sustainability frameworks, highway and stormwater design and development feasibility.

Associate Professor Mahdi Disfani

Geotechnical Engineering, the University of Melbourne

Mahdi Disfani is an Associate Professor in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Melbourne leading research on experimental investigation of granular geo-materials. His work in collaboration with industry and supported by federal and state government agencies has led to impact in areas of transportation geotechnics, soil erosion and sustainable geotechnics. Mahdi is currently representing Australia on ISSMGE Technical committees TC 202 (Transportation Geotechnics) and TC 220 (Field Monitoring in Geomechanics) and is a member for Standards Australia CE-009 (Testing of Soils for Engineering Purposes) committee.

Dr Patricia Lavieri

Lecturer, Infrastructure Engineering, the University of Melbourne

Dr Patricia Lavieri is a Lecturer in Transport Engineering at the University of Melbourne and her goal is to contribute to the development of more sustainable, equitable, and smart transport systems. Her research focuses on demand modelling for emerging transport technologies and services, such as ride-hailing, bikesharing, e-scooters and e-bikes, and electric, connected, and automated vehicles (ECAVs).

Dr Lavieri earned her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin (U.S), and her background includes qualitative and quantitative research methods, particularly in the field of econometrics and advanced discrete choice modelling. She has worked together with the public and private sectors both in the United States and Australia to develop proof of concept ECAV technologies and expand the knowledge on consumer acceptance and use of emerging transport services.

Phil Brunson

Senior Engineer, Arup

Phil is a Chartered Civil Engineer for Arup in Melbourne, with 9 years’ experience in design and construction of a variety of Civil Engineering projects, including, site development, road and rail infrastructure and flood alleviation. Phil has experience working with government authorities and contractors in the United Kingdom and Australia with demonstrable experience delivering multidisciplinary design projects and infrastructure advisory.

Phil has a passion for supporting the transition to a Circular Economy with practical experience optimising material efficiency on transport infrastructure projects. He has supported the Ecologiq program to implement the Recycled First Policy, reviewing opportunities for the application of reused and recycled materials in Victorian transport infrastructure projects, contributing to the development of three reference guides for recycled materials. As Design Manager Phil continues to explore opportunities to apply circular economy principles throughout the project lifecycle. From reduction of materials at the earliest stage of design, to supporting regenerative design and the application of recycled content in material specification.

Mark Allan (Chair)

Acting Director City Design, City Design Studio, City of Melbourne

Mark Allan is a registered architect and qualified urban planner with a Master’s degree from the Melbourne Business School. With a career spanning 30 years in sustainable urban development and major urban renewal projects, Mark has played key roles in the planning and design of Federation Square, Melbourne Docklands and the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal. In his current role at the City of Melbourne he is Acting Director City Design where he leads Council’s City Design Studio. Mark has previously held senior roles in architectural practice and at Mirvac, VicUrban and the former Melbourne Docklands Authority. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Planning Institute of Australia and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne’s Infrastructure Engineering Department. Mark has expertise in urban renewal projects and the design of sustainable precincts.

Dr Felix Hui (Welcome)

Senior Lecturer, Infrastructure Engineering, the University of Melbourne

Dr Felix Hui is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Specialist at the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology and the Academic Co-ordinator/Program Director for the Master of Engineering Management program. Felix has a diverse industry background having spent more than 25 years at senior levels in the manufacturing of machine tools, precision engineering, semiconductors and in infrastructure engineering. He has also consulted widely to organisations seeking continuous improvements to optimise their operational efficiency. His research interests are in the areas of operational process optimisation, operational efficiency, lean systems, organisational development and change management for sustainability and circular economy. Dr Hui is the Production and Process Systems (Advanced Manufacturing) theme leader in the Building 4.0 CRC and the Megaprojects, Procurement and Circular Economy theme leader in the University’s Future Infrastructure Platform.