The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works in California has become the first government agency in the nation to credential 100 of its personnel as Envision™ Sustainability Professionals.
Following the successful completion of ISI’s Envision training and exam, the new Sustainability Professionals (ENV SP), mostly civil engineers, are now able to implement sustainability ideas and practices and document accomplishments in projects in conformance with the Envision rating system.
Public Works Director Gail Farber said the accreditation is a significant milestone in L.A. County’s continued commitment to sustainability.
“We continue to be a national leader in rethinking civil infrastructure and promoting sustainable projects, programs, and services,” Farber said. “Investing in sustainability is mission critical to preserve the long-term health and well-being of the environment and the communities we serve”.
The Department’s commitment was recognized recently when its Sun Valley Watershed Multi-Benefit Project achieved an Envision Platinum Award from ISI – the highest level attainable in the Envision system.
The Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community or social, environmental, and economic benefits of all types of infrastructure projects and measures sustainability through five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk.
“Each ENV SP works as an integral part of a project team with civil engineers, environmental engineers, infrastructure planners, construction managers, architects, transportation professionals, public policy leaders, public works professionals, and other stakeholders to achieve the highest level of sustainability for their infrastructure projects,” said ISI President and CEO, Bill Bertera.
The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization that launched the Envision™ sustainable infrastructure rating system for public and private owners, and Skanska, one of the largest construction and development companies in the country, announced a new U.S. partnership. 
“ISI welcomes this new partnership with Skanska, a company with organizational commitment to promote sustainable infrastructure in healthy, thriving communities,” said ISI President and CEO, Bill Bertera.
With the partnership, Skanska has committed to aligning the delivery of heavy infrastructure civil projects with efforts to ensure the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the communities where they are built. Skanska’s Chief Sustainability Officer Beth Heider will work with the ISI Board of Directors, and Skanska USA Civil Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety Paul Haining, as well as Skanska’s National Safety Health and Environmental Management System (SHEMS) Director Nicholas Bishop, will both provide technical expertise to spread the adoption of the ISI Envision™ rating system within their areas of responsibility in construction, civil infrastructure, public-private partnerships, and commercial development initiatives.
“Partnering with ISI to promote sustainable infrastructure is a way to reinforce Skanska’s view that construction ultimately should contribute to healthy, thriving communities,” said incoming Skanska USA President and CEO Richard Cavallaro. “Our support of ISI and Envision is a way to declare that no matter what you are building – from a hospital to the highway that gets you there – it can be built green.”
Within the new partnership, ISI has agreed to provide opportunities for all Skanska employees to receive training and credentialing in the Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs) credentialing program. When credentialed, these employees will be able to document and rate sustainability aspects of infrastructure projects in collaboration with ISI’s Envision infrastructure rating system. With the Envision credentialing effort, Skanska will continue its commitment to embed sustainability throughout its infrastructure practices.
“Each ENV SP works as an integral part of a project team with civil engineers, environmental engineers, infrastructure planners, construction managers, architects, transportation professionals, public policy leaders, public works professionals, and other stakeholders to achieve the highest level of sustainability for their infrastructure projects,” said Bertera.
“Communities are facing new challenges arising from environmental regulations, ever more scarce financial resources, and pressures associated with climate change and global warming. We need to respond to these conflicting priorities in ways that speak to broad public and societal interests” he said. “Skanska embodies the commitment in its business philosophy and in its implementation, and ISI is delighted to work with a company and team that embraces a sustainable future through infrastructure that meets our needs, yet respects our dependence on the natural world we share.”

In a recent webinar produced by the Sustainable City Network, City of Austin Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens answered the following questions about creating a cross-departmental culture for sustainability in Austin.  These are reprinted with the permission of Sustainable City Network.


Presented 9/4/14 by Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer

Produced by Sustainable City Network

Sponsored by Crescent Electric Supply Co.


On Leadership and a Common Goal for Sustainability in the City of Austin


Q: How do you get the community’s and City Council's buy-in to support all of these sustainable efforts?

A: Austin’s Mayor, City Council, and City Manager have all been huge supporters and leaders in sustainability. Austin has a very informed and vocal citizenry as well as many NGOs who are champions and watchdogs for sustainability-related topics such as water quality, air quality, habitat protection, renewables, animal rights, and more.


Q: How does the department of sustainability cross-coordinate with other City departments without stepping on their toes?  Any suggestions on how to do that collaboration effectively/efficiently?

A: The Office of Sustainability and Chief Sustainability Officer were placed within the City Manager’s Office in order to enable effective sustainability leadership across 40+ departments. The clear and direct reporting line to the City Manager was key to getting the Office going, as well as achieving buy-in and support for the new Office from other City Departments. Office of Sustainability staff members have established good working relationships with key departmental staff involved in existing sustainability projects. Our team is often sought out for technical advice on particular initiatives or to support major campaigns within other departments.


Q: Describe the inter-departmental efforts to evaluate and implement these programs. Who chairs the meetings, how are decisions made, and how are reluctant department heads persuaded to participate?

A: The responsibility for successfully implementing many sustainability programs city-wide does not always originate in the Office of Sustainability, but instead resides in specific departments with the appropriate subject matter experts. However, on larger cross-departmental initiatives, our Office is tasked with breaking through Department “silos” and bringing those groups together to ensure that each initiative is complementary, to get these groups to see beyond their immediate program, and that everyone is aimed toward a common goal. To do this effectively, my staff and I have devoted significant efforts toward building relationships with internal stakeholders to be able to bring people together to work across departments on sustainability initiatives. Some of our key accomplishments include:

  • Launch of the Sustainability Action Agenda, a comprehensive inventory of activities across multiple departments
  • Achieved Climate Registered Status from the Climate Registry after having the City’s carbon footprint third-party verified
  • Identified key sustainability planning criteria for Capital Improvement Projects and Bond Development
  • Achieved 100% renewable energy for all City operations in 2011
  • Created the Carbon Neutral Fleet Plan to achieve carbon neutrality through hybrid vehicle purchases, alternative fuels, driver behaviors, and the purchase of carbon offset
  • Created a comprehensive scorecard for the City’s operational sustainability 

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) recently awarded two regional infrastructure projects separate levels of distinction within the Envision rating system.  The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) of North Central Texas earned the Envision™ sustainable infrastructure rating system’s Silver award for their Line J, Section 1 Pipeline project. The Sun Valley Watershed Multi-Benefit Project in Los Angeles County, CA, has earned the system’s Platinum award which is the highest level attainable in the Envision system.


The Tarrant pipeline was designed by Freese and Nichols, Inc., a charter member of ISI. ISI President and CEO, William Bertera, presented the award to the Tarrant Regional Water District on September 23, 2014. The Envision Silver award-winning project is a two mile, 108-inch diameter pipeline delivering water from the Kennedale Balancing Reservoir directly to the Arlington Outlet, dedicating a significant amount of water demand from the existing pipelines, and allowing the District to meet future demands at the Rolling Hills Water  Treatment line, and locations further west.


The Sun Valley Watershed Project manages storm water for the Sun Valley Watershed in Los Angeles County. It provides flood protection, improves watershed health, increases open space and recreational opportunities, and improves wildlife habitat. The project received 67% of the Department’s applicable Envision credits; the most any project has received to date from the Envision infrastructure rating system. It consists of several completed components including Tuxford Green, Sun Valley Park Drain and Infiltration System, Elmer Avenue Neighborhood Retrofit, and the Elmer Avenue Paseo. Other components include the Rory M. Shaw Wetlands Park and the Sun Valley Watershed Upper Storm Drain System and Recycled Water Line, which are in the final design stage. The Valley Steam Plant and the Whitnall Powerline Easement components are in the conceptual design stage.


For more information on the Tarrant Pipeline, click here. For more information on the Sun Valley Watershed Project, click here.

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