Community Building, Energy, Green Collar Economy, Infrastructure, Local Economy, Systems Thinking

How do we build sustainable infrastructure?

Until now, there have been no common standards by which sustainable infrastructure projects could be measured. With the Envision™ Rating Tool, launched in 2012 through a collaboration between the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, project design teams now have a way to evaluate infrastructure designs, and their suitability for a particular community.

Envision™ provides these teams with a framework for evaluating and rating the benefits and impacts of all types of infrastructure projects on the stakeholders, the natural resources and the local economy. As communities build projects to support the needs of their stakeholders, more and more are considering how to best use resources over the life cycle of a project.

If we consider the recent senior housing project at the Carroll County campus, we could ask how the building will be used when the senior population has declined. Can the building be dismantled and the resources used elsewhere? Can it easily be transformed into additional correctional space, or perhaps as dormitories for criminal justice students? The answers to these questions will help us rate whether this infrastructure project was planned to be truly sustainable.

Envision™ has sixty sustainability criteria, called credits, divided into five sections: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.

As the only credentialed Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, I can lead your infrastructure project teams through the process of developing sustainable projects by assessing, evaluating and grading sustainability indicators over the course of the project’s life cycle. What arises is a project design which truly includes input from all stakeholders that will best serve your community.

Envision™ can be used by infrastructure owners, design teams, community groups, environmental organizations, constructors, regulators, and policy makers to:
• Meet sustainability goals as defined by the stakeholders.
• 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:
• Evaluate environmental resource origins and benefits as an integral part of the project
• Assess costs and benefits over the project lifecycle, considering what happens to the resources when the project function is no longer relevant or appropriate.
• Use outcome-based objectives based on these new considerations.
• Reach higher levels of sustainability achievement than is currently acceptable.

Together we can design your infrastructure project to be truly sustainable. I can guide you as we develop a stakeholder engagement model that ensures the project will serve the community. Please get in touch to discuss your project.

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