Last month Allegheny County and the city of Pittsburgh, PA welcomed public works and sustainability professionals to the 2012 Sustainability in Public Works Conference.  Were you there?


This year's conference brought together sustainability experts and public works innovators from across the US and Canada to explore the latest trends, best practices and newest approaches to developing sustainable infrastructure and services in their communities. 


The conference was kicked off with a keynote address from Mayor Patrick Henry Hayes from North Little Rock, AR and current President of ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability USA. Mayor Hayes explained to the audience how his commitment the next generation along with the need to provide for economic development in his community led him to undertake an ambitious plan to transform North Little Rock.  Attendees at the conference had many great presentations (visit http://www.apwa.net/sustainability to see many of the handouts from these presentations) and technical tours to choose from including lessons from Monaca Borough where they are reaping big savings and other benefits  by transforming lighting in their communities; lessons on how a SMARTRAFFIC system can improve highway efficiency; and lessons from two communities who have embraced green infrastructure; and technical  tours to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Allegheny County green roof.  Another highlight of the conference was the buzz around the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and the EnvisionTM Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System.  There were two excellent presentations that demonstrated how EnvisionTM can be used in the planning and evaluating of projects and exposed attendees to the benefits that using the system can provide.  ISI also had a booth in the exhibit hall where interested attendees could learn more about ISI and how they can get involved. 


All in all the conference was a great success and staff at national could not have done it without the support and assistance from the Western PA Chapter of APWA, Allegheny County.  Both were great hosts.  As a mater of fact, the County Executive issued a proclamation recognizing APWA for its work and commending the association for its efforts to educate its members on sustainability in public works.  (read the Proclamation here).  Finally a big thanks goes to Cathy Trexlor and her team of great volunteers who helped staff ensure that all ran smoothly.  

If you were able to join us in Pittsburgh feel free to share your thoughts below.  If you couldn't make it this year, hopefully you can make it to next year's conference.  Planning is already underway.  Consider submitting a proposal (http://www.apwa.net/conferences/cfp for more details) and check back for new details about the 2013 Sustainability in Public Works conference.



New Sustainability Resources from the Emerging Leaders Academy Class of 2012.

Each year a small group of public works professionals participate in a year-long Emerging Leaders Academy that provides intensive leadership and management training within the context of public works. The ELA program encourages professional growth through a strong network of peers, and offers an in-depth introduction to APWA at the national, chapter, and branch levels.

Each ELA class selects a topic to focus its class project on and the ELA Class of 2012 focused its work on determining how can APWA integrate sustainable thinking into the public works profession as well as into the culture of APWA?

The goals of the class project focused on increasing awareness of sustainability principals and methods to those in the Public Works profession. The project goals were determined to include the following:

  • Investigate currently available tools such as the Center's Framework for Sustainable Communities (http://www.apwa.net/documents/sust/framework_designFINAL.) and ISI's EnvisionTM sustainability rating system (www.sustainableinfrastructure.org)
  • Produce a packet of tools that can be distributed to Public Works professionals that would assist them in integrating sustainable practices and policies into their organizations and projects
  • Guidance for creating sustainability-focused RFPs
  • Sample Board/Council letters to implement sustainable policies into local ordinances
  • Video explaining what sustainability means in Public Works and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Develop a pilot program
  • Develop a plan to distribute the packet to Public Works departments throughout the U.S.

The ELA Class of 2012 submitted its final project report in August and presented its findings during APWA Congress & Expo in Anaheim.  The final project report includes several helpful resources including sample council letters, sample RFP language, and an example of a project that used EnvisionTM to evaluate the sustainability of the project.  I encourage you to spend sometime reviewing these resources and thinking about how you can use them to bring more sustainable practices to your community.


It’s been a busy few months for the Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure


Stantec has become the most recent company to commit to getting at least 100 of its employees credentialed as ENV SPs this year. Other “fast track” companies are Arcadis, Arup, HDR, and Psomas.

This month’s edition of the APWA Reporter has two terrific articles on EnvisionTM.

    - Vicki Vickery Quiram and Carl Quirams’ article: Envision – The tool that creates confidence.
    - Kim Lundren’s article ENV SP: The only accreditation I will ever have.

Many ENV SPs will be speaking at next week's 2013 APWA Sustainability in Public Works Conference.

     - Ann Radil will give a presentation on "Using Envision to Advance the Practice of Sustainable Design and    Construction"
     - Katherine Gies will discuss "Achieving Wastewater Treatment Plant Sustainability Goals Using Envision"
    - David Reardon and Stephane Laroque will talk about "Sustainable ROI: Making the Business Case for Sustainability"
    - Kim Lundgren will discuss "Assessing Vulnerabilities of Infrastructure to Climate Change"
     - Jay Bockish will present a "Comparison of Transportation Sustainability Rating Systems"
     - Rene Vidales will participate in a panel discussion of "North Park San Diego: From Historic Neighborhood to Sustainable Community"


The Center for Sustainability has also added new EnvisionTM resources to its website to help public works departments join ISI and to incorporate sustainability principles into RFPs.


ISI has added a new feature to its website that will help you find speakers or presenters for your conferences or meetings.  You can now "Request a Speaker" for your event or group to learn more about EnvisionTM.   Download the form at the bottom of the Resources tab on ISI's website.



ISI logo

If you are seeking a way to become familiar with the EnvisionTM Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System, then you should check out the EnvisionTM Checklist.   


The Envision™ Checklist is an educational tool that helps users become familiar with the sustainability aspects of infrastructure project design. It can be used as a stand-alone assessment to quickly compare project alternatives or to prepare for a more detailed assessment.

The Envision™ Checklist is structured as a series of Yes/No questions based on the Envision™ rating system. It organized into five categories and fourteen subcategories. Every infrastructure project has an important impact on all five Envision™ categories.


Envision™ provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects. It evaluates, grades, and gives recognition to infrastructure projects that use transformational, collaborative approaches to assess the sustainability indicators over the course of the project's life cycle.  Envision™ can be used by infrastructure owners, design teams, community groups, environmental organizations, constructors, regulators, and policy makers to:


  • Meet sustainability goals.
  • Be publicly recognized for high levels of achievement in sustainability.
  • Help communities and project teams to collaborate and discuss, "Are we doing the right project?" and, "Are we doing the project right?".
  • Make decisions about the investment of scarce resources.
  • Include community priorities in civil infrastructure projects.


The Envision™ tools help the project design team:


  • Assess costs and benefits over the project lifecycle.
  • Evaluate environmental benefits.
  • Use outcome-based objectives.
  • Reach higher levels of sustainability achievement.


Envision™ has assessment tools that can be used for infrastructure projects of all types, sizes, complexities, and locations.


If you have used the Checklist we would love to hear about your expierences with it.  You can either post a comment to this blog explaining your expierences using the Checklist or you can email Julia Anastasio at janastasio@apwa.net.



Envision Logo


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced that the first Envision™ rating system project award went to the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage, Alaska.   The HDR-designed project received an Envision™ “Gold” award. The 141,000-square foot hatchery facility is the largest indoor sport fish hatchery in North America, and contains many sustainable features, including sophisticated recirculation technology that reduces by 95% the water and energy normally used by conventional hatcheries.


To view a video on the William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery, visit the HDR Fish Hatchery link at: http://www.hdrinc.com/about-hdr/sustainability/envision/first-ever-envision-project-award-william-jack-hernandez-sport-fis?utm_source=hdrinc-news&utm_medium=website-link&utm_campaign=wjh-award


The hatchery’s Gold-level Envision™ award represents significant achievements in sustainable infrastructure design. The project was assessed using the 60 Envision™ sustainability criteria in the categories of Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.


The sustainability aspects of the Fish Hatchery that garnered high-level ratings included leaving the brownfield site cleaner than before, saving water and energy, keeping Ship Creek clean, and building public education into its design. Additional higher levels of achievement were concentrated in several Envision™ structure credit categories, including the following:


  • Leadership Category: Pursued by-product synergy: The project formed a partnership to transfer waste from the operations of the facility as input to another facility, and evaluated the potential to make use of warm water from a neighboring industry.


  • Leadership Category: Improved infrastructure integration: The project repurposed existing water and sewer infrastructure; created connections to existing bike trails and created a parallel bike trail through a park-like setting, while clarifying traffic flow and protecting the stream; restored and improved public park-like setting and viewing areas with trails, boardwalk, and educational signs.


  • Quality of Life: Improved the net quality of life of all communities affected by the project and mitigated community impacts. The project improved user accessibility, safety and wayfinding of the site and surrounding areas. It also enhanced public space including improvement of public parks, plazas, recreational facilities, or wildlife refuges to enhance community livability.


  • Resource Allocation: Reduced energy use: The project piloted and later implemented a full scale, highly efficient, recirculated aquaculture system that reduced the energy needed to heat the process water, ventilation, and building heating by approximately 88%, while significantly reducing operating costs and maintaining production goals.


  • Natural World: Preserved greenfields: The project included the environmental restoration of a former military brownfield and greyfield site, including the cleanup of contaminated soils.


  • Natural World: Reduced pesticide and fertilizer impacts: The project team designed the landscaping to incorporate native plant species suitable to the Alaskan climate, requiring no pesticides, herbicides or ongoing fertilizers.


The ISI/ HDR announcement marks a significant achievement for APWA’s own sustainability efforts.  Since its formation in 2008, APWA has been working to identify the best tools, practices and theories to make incorporating sustainability into public works projects second nature.  The collaboration with ISI, Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University Graduate School of Design and with our fellow association partners, ASCE and ACEC, is a keystone component of the APWA Center for Sustainability activities.   



Envision Logo


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure continues to develop and refine the Envision rating system.  Part of the refinement includes the development of the development of a business case evaluator tool.  ISI is seeking feedback on an Envision economic companion tool for stormwater.


Economic factors are an essential component of sustainable infrastructure, along with environmental and social considerations. The business case for sustainable infrastructure goes beyond a return on investment: it also includes infrastructure effectiveness, costs, reliability, and livability. These factors contribute to how communities perceive these infrastructure projects which in turn has a real dollar value associated with it.


This Envision Economic tool, called the Business Case Evaluator, is being developed by Impact Infrastructure, LLC, which is a Charter Member of ISI. The Business Case Evaluator (BCE) provides a value-based and risk-adjusted analysis of stormwater infrastructure projects and maps these to the Envision credits. Once it is finalized based on public input, the BCE will be offered at no cost through the ISI website.


There are several economic tools that are being developed in parallel in different agencies, companies, and research organizations that fill the unique needs of different infrastructure sectors and geographic locations. ISI encourages the development of these tools and will continue to provide an opportunity for public feedback to strengthen the metrics and tools that will be made publically available.


The Business Case Evaluator for Stormwater Management, user manual and documentation can be found at sustainableinfrastructure.org/tools/stormwater/index.cfm.


Please send your comments to ISI by October 17th.  ISI has provided an online comment form for you to use. 


The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) announced on February 26, 2015 that the Grand Bend Area Wastewater Treatment Facility, located in Ontario on the shoreline of Lake Huron, earned the Envision® sustainable infrastructure rating system’s Platinum award. This project is the first ISI Envision verification in Canada, and first wastewater facility to be ISI Envision-verified in North America.

Key sustainable features include:

  • a constructed wetland to support native wildlife species and further buffer treated effluent,
  • flexible design that makes the facility responsive to changing sewage flows,
  • reduced construction and operational costs through a focus on efficiency,
  • constructing the project within the boundaries of the original facility’s footprint to protect prime farmland, and
  • trails and interpretive signage to encourage community visitors.

More information about the project can be found on ISI's website:



On March 25th the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Network on Smart and Sustainable Cities (ANSSC) will host its monthly webinar from 2-3:30 pm EDT on the EnvisionTM Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System, administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). The featured speaker will be Denise Nelson, vice president for public education at ISI.

To register for the ANSSC and participate in the webinar, please visit www.ansi.org/cities.



The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) celebrated Earth Day 2015 by releasing an article a day during Earth Week exploring how the construction industry contributes to building a green future.

On Day Three, AGC published an article exploring two green infrastructure programs: Envision and Sustainable SITES.

Drawing on the interest in green buildings, these green infrastructure programs address challenges specific to infrastructure and public works and have found new partners in the green community to further galvanize efforts to improve our nation’s infrastructure.




The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) recently announced the formation of the Envision® Review Board (ERB) to oversee the ongoing development of ISI’s Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system, initially launched in 2012.

The mission of the ERB is to assure the continued integrity and efficacy of ISI’s Envision sustainability rating system and its associated tools, resources, and documents and to provide for consistency in interpretation and development.

The formation of the ERB is a necessary step in ensuring that future developments are transparent, collaborative, and stakeholder-guided,” said ISI Board of Directors Chair, Terry Neimeyer, CEO and Chairman of KCI Technologies.

The inaugural ERB consists of 15 members who were selected from the US and Canada and represent a broad cross-section of the industry.  It includes 3 representatives from public agencies (New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, and the Port of Long Beach) and one representative who is a member of APWA (Andy Sauer, Project Manager for Burns & McDonnell).

The complete ERB list and additional information is available here:



The Grand Bend Area Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) marked a milestone on June 10, 2015. At a celebration attended by municipal, provincial and federal partners, the facility officially received the Envision Platinum Award from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI).

Located on the shoreline of Lake Huron, the Grand Bend Area WWTF is the first ISI Envision verification in Canada, and the first wastewater facility to be ISI Envision-verified in the world.

Currently under construction, the Grand Bend Area WWTF is scheduled for completion early 2016.


Louis Berger, a global professional services firm, announced plans to implement the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system in Louis Berger's U.S.-based and international operations.


"Envision will help project teams plan, design, construct and operate resilient infrastructure to create stronger, more sustainable communities," said Tom Lewis, president of Louis Berger's U.S.-based operating company. "Envision ensures that we are implementing the correct project in an optimal way to meet the existing and future needs of our clients and the people they serve."


In its initial phase, Louis Berger plans to implement Envision across priority regional markets in the U.S., Panama, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, select employees have begun the Envision assessment process within business units where the rating system can have an immediate impact, including Louis Berger's environmental and disaster management, and power and energy practices.