Sustainability Reviews for Infrastructure Projects – Will they be Mandatory? 1

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is a non-profit organization that has risen up through a joint effort by the American Council for Engineering Companies (ACEC), American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The ISI has developed a rating system called Envision™ which according to ISI is “a comprehensive and workable rating system that will help project owners, designers and constructors make better management and investment decisions.”

If you are involved in civil infrastructure projects at the local and municipal level, you will probably agree that more can be done to consider the social, environmental and economic aspects of these projects beyond the limits of work. How will a new light affect the local neighbors? How will a new sidewalk affect local businesses? What economic benefit does a new sewer main have beyond the construction contract?  

Often times design teams forget that the projects we are designing and constructing will likely last into the next century and the future impacts could be significant in a positive or negative way. The rating system consists of five sections to review the potential impacts on: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk. The ISI intends to offer this rating system in four stages with the first two, self-assessment and third party verification currently available for comment and trial.

It remains to be seen whether the Envision rating system will rise to the status and stature of the LEED system. The built environment under the LEED umbrella is largely privately financed resulting in a “voluntary” evaluation system. In contrast, horizontal infrastructure projects are mostly funded by federal, state and local budgets and if these funding agencies require an Envision evaluation for sustainability in their RFP, the Envision evaluation process could become mandatory for civil infrastructure projects.

What are your thoughts about sustainability evaluations for infrastructure projects?

One comment

  1. I took the Summer Certification Program in 2010 and I highly rmomecend ECOSA to anyone who is serious about ecological design in buildings or products. ECOSA will challenge you to keep thinking about what green really is to you and to the world, which keeps the innovation flowing! Fast paced but thorough and the instructors and guest lecturers provide invaluable insight into the eco-design world.


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