Four tools to assist in the development of more sustainable roads, buildings, and communities.
Sustainability is about more than just being “green.” It’s about striking a balance between meeting environmental, economic, and social needs and finding a way to build and maintain infrastructure without exhausting valuable resources. Let’s look at four tools that help managers design projects that are more sustainable.
Envision is a system for rating the sustainability of infrastructure projects. “It is for people who plan, design, build or maintain civil infrastructure,” says SCJ’s Bob Tauscher, a senior project manager who is Envision-certified. Initially developed by the American Public Works Association (APWA), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Envision now operates as a nonprofit under their oversight.
“Sustainable infrastructure isn’t just about doing the project right, it’s also about doing the right project,” said Bob. Envision criteria address a project’s impact on the surrounding community and environment, technical considerations regarding materials and processes, and other critical choices spanning the project’s lifecycle. It even provides a framework for facilitating discussions with stakeholders on often complex choices.
“Envision provides a framework for your project from the very beginning, saving time and money by getting out in front of all those decisions,” said Bob. “On the back end, it provides a tool to evaluate the work that’s been done.”
In addition to Bob, SCJ Principal and Transportation Manager Lisa Reid and Traffic Engineering Lead Brad Shea are both Envision certified.
The most widely recognized system for rating sustainable projects is LEED, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council. While Envision is built for infrastructure, LEED focuses on buildings. It is intended to improve green building practices and encourage projects to invest in strategies that reduce impact and have a positive effect on their surroundings.
SCJ has three LEED-certified professionals: Senior Principal Jean Carr, Principal Amy Head, and Project Engineer Whitney Holm.
A third sustainability tool, this one developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is INVEST. It’s specific to transportation and provides a tool to incorporate sustainability through a project’s lifecycle. INVEST stands for Infrastructure Voluntary Evaluation Sustainability Tool. It is a web-based self-evaluation tool for transportation agencies to use to incorporate sustainability into transportation.
INVEST has a Project Development module focused on improving the sustainability of the planning, design, and construction of multimodal and roadway projects (adding transit projects soon). It is bookended by a System Planning module to evaluate an agency’s system-level planning and programming and an Operations & Maintenance module; both of these modules evaluate an agency’s policies, processes, procedures, and practices related to the module topic.
Lisa led the team of experts who originally developed the tool and is currently working with FHWA to create the newest versions, incorporating user feedback and meeting the evolving needs of the sustainability practice.
Greenroads™ is a fourth rating system, run by the nonprofit Greenroads Foundation, that is very much like the INVEST Project Development module. It evaluates the sustainability of transportation projects from planning through construction; however, unlike INVEST, Greenroads™ provides independent, third-party certification of a project’s performance.
Lisa, who is also a Greenroads™ Sustainable Transportation Professional stated, “Greenroads™ is a great option for transportation roadway projects if you have the need for third party validation and certification.”
Why use more than one tool?
Lisa explained that selecting the right tool is important and has found that using more than one tool can provide multiple benefits. “For instance, using multiple tools increases the number of sustainable options. This allows the project team to find the solutions that fit the project best,” she said.
For more information on how to enhance your next project with one of these tools, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.