Sustainability and Our Horizontal Infrastructure
A new rating system aims to build sustainability considerations into the entire infrastructure process, from planning to implementation.
Green building-rating systems have been around for well over a decade. The best known in the United States is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the certification system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is for the "horizontal infrastructure" world of buildings. But what about "horizontal infrastructure" -- our roads, bridges, railways, landfills, water and wastewater-treatment plants, power-transmission lines, and public spaces in our cities and towns?
At a recent sustainability conference, I learned about an intriguing effort to bring to infrastructure what LEED brings to buildings. It's called the Envision Rating System, and it's a joint project of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) and Harvard University's Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure.
Envision is just getting out of the starting blocks. Essentially, it's a guide for sustainability decision-making by government. "We now have a way to help government prioritize needs and allocate resources for the physical infrastructure upon which everything else depends," explains William Bertera, ISI's executive director. Ann Radil, an Envision user who is senior scientist for Parametrix, a Portland, Ore., environmental-engineering consulting firm, says that "for infrastructure Envision has done the heavy lifting on sustainability. These tools help you ask the right questions."
As governments make decisions about scarce resources, too often the decision-making process is limited to locally available knowledge or experience and misses the possibilities presented by best practices from other communities. Envision is based on a list of best practices that can be considered as a project is designed and implemented.
View Full Story
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
Are Muni Bonds Being Replaced by Direct Loans?40 minutes ago
Unrest Continues in Ferguson4 hours ago
To Save Money, Cal State Considers Not Accepting Freshmen at All4 hours ago
Judges Overturn Gay Marriage Bans in Mississippi and Arkansas4 hours ago
How the GOP's Rust Belt Governors Might Fix its 1% Problem4 hours ago
New San Francisco Rule Prevents Employers from Changing Worker Schedules4 hours ago