Orange County Branch Newsletter

June 2021

ASCE OC Sustainability Committee

Infrastructure Report Card and the Sustainable Procurement for Infrastructure Report

By Tonia Wang, P.E., ENV SP | Sustainability Committee Member

The ASCE OC Branch Sustainability Committee hosted a virtual luncheon on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. The event focused on the sustainable and resilient elements of the ASCE Infrastructure Report Card and the Sustainable Procurement for Infrastructure Report. Dr. Cris Liban moderated the presentations and discussion with speakers Dr. Christine Prouty and Denise Nelson.

Dr. Christine Prouty, Senior Manager of Infrastructure Initiatives at ASCE shared the organization’s effort on the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The Report Card is a key influencer on infrastructure policy making in the United States. Scoring methodology focuses on the following key criteria: Capacity, Condition, Funding, Future Need, Operation and Maintenance, Public Safety, Resilience and Innovation. Dr. Prouty explained the use of grades that range from A to F: to easily communicate scores that allows all audiences to understand. In 2021, infrastructure in the United States received a score of C- with the main trends observed:

  • Maintenance backlogs continue to be an issue, but asset management helps prioritize limited funding.
  • Federal investments have helped improve the infrastructure grade and many state and local governments continue to prioritize infrastructure investments to help keep pace with our growing needs.
  • There are still infrastructure sectors where data is scarce or unreliable, which can make allocating funds difficult.

The Failure to Act study was completed and found to have a funding gap between total needs and current funding of $2.59 trillion needed for infrastructure. To contextualize this impact into individual households, the average American household will spend $3,300/year due to infrastructure deficiencies.

Denise Nelson presented the efforts of the Policy Committee of Advocacy and Communications within the ASCE Sustainability Committee. The committee assessed the existing enforceable mechanisms to incorporate sustainability in infrastructure projects. It was found that there are currently sustainability requirements in the following:

  • Sustainable procurement,
  • Design standards and standard operating procedures,
  • Policies, ordinances, and codes,
  • Legislation and regulation

The Sustainable Procurement for Infrastructure Report was created, which provides guidelines on how to incorporate sustainability in a project through procurement. The document is intended to be used by civil engineers, infrastructure owners, and procurement personnel. Denise Nelson recommends starting with the report’s language and adapting it with respect to the project--between design engineer, contractor, and infrastructure owner. In the report language, there is a three-point trend for each recommendation: identify the current state, develop a solution, and implement it. The Sustainable Procurement for Infrastructure Report recommendations are listed below:

  • Life Cycle Cost Analysis
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Conservation
  • Surface and Groundwater Protection
  • Air Pollution Management
  • Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle
  • Public Health and Safety
  • Public Involvement
  • Plan for Resiliency
  • Sustainability Management Plan

For the future, the committee plans to track the use of this report and get feedback from those using these recommendations.

To view a recorded video of the luncheon, please visit this link: ASCE OC April Luncheon Video.

About the Author

Tonia Wang is a civil engineer specialized in rail/highway design and sustainability coordination. As a part of HNTB, she is currently working on XpressWest, a high-speed rail line from Southern California to Las Vegas. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she obtained a master’s in civil engineering, in the Energy, Civil Infrastructure, and Climate Change graduate program.


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