Envision Tools Help Public Agencies Meet Sustainability Goals
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s (ISI) Envision Sustainability Rating System (Envision™) is gaining increased recognition by many public agencies as a valuable resource for planning and evaluating sustainable civil infrastructure projects. Since its initial rollout in 2012, Envision has been embraced by numerous public agencies to help implement or improve their sustainability programs. Currently, over 5,800 individuals are accredited as Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs), 30 projects representing $10 billion in infrastructure improvements have been verified, and many more are currently in the verification process.
Envision is an infrastructure rating system applicable to all infrastructure categories such as energy, water, waste, transportation, and information. Envision is a tool for evaluating and rating the social, economic, and environmental benefits of all types and size of civil infrastructure projects. Similar to the Green Building Association’s LEED™ rating system for buildings, Envision provides a more holistic approach for infrastructure projects. Envision emphasizes a project’s broader impacts on the surrounding community with considerations of quality of life, natural resources, climate, and leadership and provides a standardized framework for evaluating and rating these benefits. Incorporating the sustainable project objectives promoted by Envision can help public agencies establish and meet sustainability goals, achieve public recognition, incorporate community priorities, communicate project achievements to tax payers, and guide decisions on future investment. The tool can evaluate a diverse range of infrastructure types and encompasses 60 credits under five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World and Climate and Risk.
Envision is a collaborative product by the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). ISI is a not-for-profit education and research organization dedicated to developing and maintaining a civil infrastructure rating system. ISI was founded by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2010.
The presentation will provide a brief introduction and overview of the Envision Rating System and then focus in on how various agencies are using Envision in their infrastructure planning and maintenance programs. Examples of different types of infrastructure projects from across the country will be used to illustrate Envision’s flexibility and effectiveness. The presentation will also discuss how public agencies can implement use of Envision to help meet their sustainability goals including:
• Use Envision for project assessments at no cost
• Require Envision verification of projects
• Train staff in the application of Envision
• Require experience with Envision in RFQs and RFPs
• Require key staff to include ENV SPs
• Include use of Envision in alternative evaluation processes
The audience will gain an understanding of key planning considerations that can increase infrastructure sustainability by incorporating multi-objective components such as recreation, aesthetic improvements, environmental restoration, and education. Multiple project examples, including the first Envision Platinum project, will be presented to illustrate the system’s flexibility and effectiveness across multiple types of infrastructure and to review key lessons learned.
Suzanne Wilkins is the American Planning Association (APA) California Chapter, Sacramento Valley Section, Sierra Division Director. She is an Envision™ Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) who prepared the Envision application for the first Platinum project. As a Senior Planner for CDM Smith, Suzanne works on multi-benefit infrastructure projects in the highly regulated Lake Tahoe Basin. Ms. Wilkins is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). She has presented at numerous conferences over the years about Envision.
Stefan Schuster is a Senior Water Resources Engineer and Project Manager with CDM Smith in Truckee, California. Stefan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Master’s in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada at Reno. He is registered as a Professional Engineer in California and Nevada, holds multiple stormwater certifications and is an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP). Stefan manages the CDM Smith offices in Truckee, California and has overseen many projects involving water quality, stormwater management and monitoring, erosion and sediment control, low impact development strategies, and CEQA/NEPA environmental analyses.
Anthony Kane is Managing Director at the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure in Washington, DC where he oversees and directs the research and further development of the Envision rating system for sustainable infrastructure. His work has focused primarily on sustainability in the built environment and advanced fabrication methods. He is co-author of Ceramic Material Systems in Architecture and Interior Design and a contributing author of Infrastructure Sustainability and Design. Kane is formerly a research director at the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and an instructor at the Boston Architectural College.