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Case Study: Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport Achieves Excellent IS Rating

Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport will not only provide a much-needed boost to Sydney’s aviation capacity, but act as a catalyst for high-quality jobs and business opportunities across the region. Construction is well underway on what will be a full-service international, domestic and freight airport from the start of operations in late 2026.
 
The Western Sydney International Airport Early Earthworks site comprised of 200 hectares of the overall site area and included a section of earthworks in the northern section of the overall airport site itself at Badgerys Creek in Western Sydney. Early Earthworks has helped lay the foundations for the construction of the airport. 
 
The scope of works included site decontamination, cut and fill of 1.8 million cubic metres of material, construction of stockpile pads, construction and realignment of a section of Badgerys Creek Road, drainage and utility relocation works for multiple existing utility services, and has prepared the site for Major Earthworks and Airside Civil works to follow. 

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Picture: Western Sydney Airport
 
KEY ACHIEVEMENTS 
Key achievements on the Western Sydney International Early Earthworks project included:
  • A 20% reduction in Green House Gas Emissions throughout construction of the Project. Reduction was achieved through multiple refined construction processes in area staging, water, material and vehicle management that provided significant energy efficiencies;
  • A world’s first innovation on the 825H Drum Compactor increasing the technological capability of the machine, improved design grade efficacy and removed the need for a grader to work in tandem to achieve accurate design grades on material;
  • Innovation in Stakeholder Engagement through empowerment of the Project’s major stakeholders. Early Earthworks partnered with the local Aboriginal Land Council to educate the local community on Aboriginal heritage and significance of the local area at the Project open day;
  • 98% of all office and construction waste was recycled, achieved through several industry partnerships, one of which was Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney. The Early Earthworks Project donated a total of 1,240 tonnes of sandstone excavated to the early earthworks site and 34 tonnes of timber salvaged from cleared trees. The resources helped construct new animal enclosures and landscaping works to advance the Zoo’s project construction timeline;
  • During a prolonged period of extensive drought and bushfires in New South Wales in 2019 and 2020, the Early Earthworks Project managed to reduce water required  to construct the Project by 11% and substitute 88% of all water for non-potable sources through highly effective construction planning and methodology. 
 
HIGHLIGHTS
 
Quantity of Waste Recycled and Reduced
Due to the cut and fill nature of the Early Earthworks project, all spoil material was reused on site as part of the design, therefore the project met a recycling rate of 100%. There were more than 20 waste streams for construction waste taken offsite and mostly recycled, delivering a 98% recycle rate. Office waste had four waste streams and reached a 98% recycle rate.
 
To assist with a reduction of construction waste going offsite, the project donated resources to Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney to advance the project timeline and provide local jobs to the region.   
 
 
A World’s First Innovation – Compactor Auto Grade Control System
Western Sydney Airport’s Early Earthworks project achieved a world’s first innovation in civil earthworks efficiency, with strong market transformation opportunities in the machinery industry and on future projects. 
 
The global industry standard for the spread and compaction of material in civil earthworks is typified by a grader and compactor working in tandem. To improve compactor efficiency, the Early Earthworks workshop foreman led the retrofit on the 825H 4 Drum compactor and development of a new compaction process, using two forms of 3D technology to improve the safety, construction efficiency and the environmental footprint of soil compaction in civil construction. 
 
When the technology is paired, retrofitted and installed on the 825H 4 Drum compactor, it improves the compactors design grade efficacy, and no longer requires a grader to work in tandem to achieve accurate design grade of material.


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Reduced Water Consumption
The vast majority of project water use was for dust suppression and compaction via water carts. Initiatives implemented on the package to reduce water consumption to achieve the target include:
  • Water carts were allocated to construction teams to work in tandem to apply water for dust suppression and compaction purposes immediately prior to earthmoving machinery passing reducing the evaporation rates and preventing dust from occurring as the machine passes
  • Water carts have 4 positional jets and a spray/ mist bar. If only one directional jet is applied this can save up to 75% of BAU water used
  • Out of hours application of water carts allowing dust suppression activities to take place at cooler times of the day
  • Progressive staging of construction, haul route design and vehicle management plans reduced the area of site exposed at any one time, thus only requiring water cart applications where construction work was occurring
 
Onsite harvesting from project basins was prioritised for the end of use of dust suppression and compaction and harvesting water from a water pipeline from PGH Bricks Quarry.


Project name: Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport
Location: Western Sydney, NSW
Contractors: CPB and Lendlease Joint Venture
Assessors: Meg Wrixon, Michael Watts and Mark Trethewy
IS Project Manager: Claudia Bogar Sylvestre

 
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