Orange County Branch Newsletter

August 2012

President's Message

Envision Infrastructure Sustainability Rating System

By Joshua Nelson, PE

Last time we wrote about Envision we were just introducing it to you and it was in it's early stage of development. In fact it was just in the pilot stage. The Assessment Tools have now moved on to Stage 1 and Stage 2 of 4 stages. Let's give a little backup again on this initiative. The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is developing and will maintain a sustainability rating system for civil infrastructure in the United States. That system, called Envision™, is a collaboration between ISI in Washington. D.C., and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. One of the key encouraging aspects of this initiative are the partners.The ISI was founded by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and us - the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). I think that this is key as those three groups represent just about every civil engineer out there.

Envision™ provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects. The Envision™ Rating System 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. For example, it can give infrastructure owners, design teams, community groups, environmental organizations, constructors, regulators, and policy makers the ability 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.
  • Assess costs and benefits over the project lifecycle.
  • Evaluate environmental benefits.
  • Use outcome-based objectives.
  • Reach higher levels of sustainability achievement.

As noted above there are various stages of assessment tools.

Stage 1 — Self-assessment checklist.

  • A self-assessment checklist and educational tool that helps familiarize people involved in infrastructure projects with the sustainability aspects of the project.
  • Was available Spring 2012.

Stage 2 — Third-party, objective rating verification. Public recognition.

  • Allows the owner or project team to submit the project for recognition.
  • Includes a guidance manual and scoring system.
  • Requires someone trained in the use of the Envision™ rating system to be an integral part of the project team to document sustainability achievements.
  • An independent, third-party Verifier (see below) will validate the project team's assessment.
  • Stage 2, preconstruction, available January 2012. Construction and Operations and Maintenance phases available in mid-2012.

The Envision™ Stage 2 Rating Tool is made up of 60 credits divided into five sections: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk. Each Envision™ credit is described in a 2-page write-up that includes the intent, metric, levels of achievement, description, an explanation of how to advance to a higher achievement level, evaluation criteria and documentation, sources, and related credits.

Stage 3 — Tool for complex or multi-stage projects. Available after 2012.

Stage 4 — Optimization support tool. Available after 2012.

So what can you do? There are two different certifications right now. You could become an Envision™ Sustainability Professional which means you are trained in the use of the Envision™ rating system and are credentialed by ISI. You are an integral part of a project team who guides the team in achieving higher levels of sustainability, documents project sustainability accomplishments, and submits the project for recognition. ISI is currently offering Provisional Credentialing Certificates (ENV PV) for the period ending December 31, 2013, after which re-application and testing may be required to obtain the ENV SP (Sustainability Professional).You could also become a Verifier. A verifier is an independent, third-party that works with the ENV PV to validate their assessment of a project. The ISI is holding the first Verifier training later this month. ISI is actively recruiting VERIFIERS for the Envision™ Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System. Verifiers are the backbone of ISI's independent, third party project evaluation system designed to be used for all types and sizes of sustainable public infrastructure projects. Verifiers are contracted with ISI through their employers to review and confirm components of the Envision™ rating system's Levels of Achievement, documentation, and scoring of projects provided by the project team. Verifiers who successfully complete the first training session can anticipate work on projects to begin as early as September 2012. While the deadline to apply has passed we will keep you posted on future classes. Check the Education and Training page for more information.

I would also like to encourage you to become a member:

  • Join as a Charter or Sustaining Member for in-depth involvement in ISI.
  • Other memberships available for trade and professional associations, public sector agencies, and academics.
  • Members pricing on ISI training materials, meetings, certification application fees, publications, and other products and services.

More than 100 of our members sought attended a free eLearning Webinar earlier in July, “Understanding the New Envision Infrastructure Ratings:  Sustainable Benefits, Growing Markets.” If you missed it, I encourage you to check out the archived version. This summer, more than 180 individuals have taken the ISI Envision training courses and more than 50 individuals have received their ISI Provisional Credentialing Certificate.

I would love to know if any of you have taken any of the training, so let me know by emailing me or giving me a call 626-956-8288. I would also be interested in any comments from you on what you think of Envision.