Jan 23, 2012

New Envision System

The First-Ever Holistic Framework for Rating Sustainability of Infrastructure Projects
WASHINGTON, D.C.– In today’s environment in which infrastructure must perform, it has become increasingly challenging as demands for energy and water resources climb. The professionals who design and build these projects face a tall order in the years ahead: satisfying ever-growing demand, while at the same time responsibly addressing the potential effects caused by climate change and the increasing demand for resources, through integrating sustainable techniques in infrastructure design and construction. The works that best meet those challenges – and can serve as an example to others – can qualify for verification under Envision, the first rating system to gauge infrastructure sustainability.

EnvisionTM is the product of a strategic alliance and collaboration of several organizations including the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), a nonprofit organization co-founded by the American Public Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University School of Design.
“To meet the serious challenges that we face for infrastructure, the Envision rating system is designed to be used as an integrated education/resource library, as well as a project assessment that recognizes the need to stretch the traditional  design boundaries in which infrastructure projects are judged, not only by how they are delivered, but by  how long they last, accounting for durability, flexibility and utility of the constructed works,”  said ISI Executive Director William Bertera. “This new sustainable infrastructure rating system is a cutting-edge development for the world’s infrastructure design and built environment.”
The new sustainable infrastructure rating system will evaluate, grade and give recognition to infrastructure projects that provide progress and contributions for a sustainable future. Its purpose is to foster a necessary and dramatic improvement in the performance and resiliency of physical infrastructure across the full dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental. “Designers, infrastructure decision-makers, and the public currently face a proliferation of sustainability rating tools, most of which focus on the performance of a particular infrastructure element, rather than its contribution to the system in which it resides,” Bertera said.
To focus on this, EnvisionTM takes a new tack by establishing a holistic framework for evaluating and rating infrastructure projects against the needs and values of the community; ensuring that the true sustainability of tomorrow’s infrastructure is addressed by considering the entire life cycle of projects at a systems level. “EnvisionTM not only asks, “Did we do the project right?” but also questions, “Did we do the right project,’” said Paul Zofnass, the founder of the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
In addition, EnvisionTM raises the bar on sustainability performance by recognizing efforts that replenish and restore natural resources and ecosystems, and evaluating infrastructure throughout its full life, with ratings for design and planning, construction, operations, and decommissioning. To do this, the initial release of EnvisionTM this month will address the design and planning phase with subsequent phase ratings to follow.
Within each phase, sustainability objectives are organized in three tiers; categories, subcategories, and credits. By meeting objectives within a credit, projectsearn points toward their rating score. The achievement of points within the credit is scaled in five levels to ensure all efforts to achieve sustainability are rewarded proportionally.
“Recognition of the challenges, issues, and complexity of achieving sustainability is a necessary step in improving infrastructure development,” said Bertera. “The purpose of EnvisionTMis to initiate a systemic change, which improves not only project performance, but the mindsets of designers, project owners, and decision makers; to transform the way infrastructure is designed, built, and operated.”
Educational programs will be offered in conjunction with the new rating system’s release, to not only train individuals to use EnvisionTMbut to incorporate systems-level thinking into their approach to sustainability, considering the broader, often overlooked, impacts of a project.
In addition to the release of EnvisionTM, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and the Zofnass Program plan to release two companion tools this year: a pre-planning checklist for assessing project sustainability in increasing awareness of issues, and a comprehensive guidance document and score calculator that allows users to analyze and rate a project’s levels of achievement for sustainability objectives. Both tools are under development and important steps in realizing the goal for a holistic system.

EDITOR’S NOTE:This information is EMBARGOED FOR MEDIA, and not to be used for media/press purposes at this time. If you represent a media organization and have questions, please contact APWA’s Laura Bynum at lbynum@apwa.net.
About ISI:
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure is a not-for-profit association of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Public Works Association. Its purpose is to improve the performance and viability of infrastructure through the application of more sustainable technologies and methodologies.
About the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure
The Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure (gsd.harvard.edu/research/research_centers/zofnass/) is a research organization based within Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, extending its activities throughout the Harvard schools of Public Health, Government, Business and the Center for the Environment. It is supported and advised by founders Paul and Joan Zofnass, and various industry partners.

About APWA
The American Public Works Association (apwa.net) is a not-for-profit, international organization of more than 28,500 members involved in the field of public works.  APWA serves its members by promoting professional excellence and public awareness through education, advocacy and the exchange of knowledge. APWA is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, has an office in Washington, D.C. and 63 chapters in North America.
About ASCE
Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (asce.org) represents more than 140,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide and it America’s oldest national engineering society.
About ACEC
The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) is the business association of America’s engineering industry. Council members numbering more than 5,000 firms and representing more than 500,000 employees throughout the nation are engaged in the development of America’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, as well as environmental, industrial and other public and private facilities. Founded in 1909 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., ACEC is a national federation of 51 state and regional organizations.