The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure announced that earlier this week it reached the milestone of 1,500 Envision Sustainability Professionals who have been credentialed in the use of the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system.

Envision is a voluntary third party sustainable development rating system for all types and sizes of infrastructure projects, as opposed to buildings (.. yes, something like LEED for roads and bridges). 

The emergent rating system is in use, but not regulatory, in over 150 U.S. jurisdictions from New York City to Chicago, from Dallas to Los Angeles, and from Kansas City to San Diego. It has been used for nearly every type of project imaginable from roads to Brownfield redevelopment, from airport expansions to fisheries, from wastewater to drinking water treatment plans, and from pipelines to transmission lines.

Envision has 60 sustainability criteria, called credits, divided into five sections: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.

Each Envision credit on the checklist is accompanied by text 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.

Envision is a collaborative effort of the American Public Works Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the American Society of Civil Engineers, who formed an organization called the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. ISI, in turn, partnered with the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University to produce the Envision n infrastructure rating system to help planners, designers, developers, contractors and infrastructure owners develop projects and systems that include and offer the opportunity for increasing levels of sustainability in our infrastructure.

Envision fills a void left by today’s green standards, green rating systems and green codes, when these criteria apply only to occupied buildings and not to infrastructure.

Envision is not a decision making tool in and of itself. Instead, it helps and encourages decision makers to think about sustainability at each stage of a piece of infrastructure’s life cycle, beginning with the planning and design phase, through construction and continuing into operation and maintenance.

The tool is available in the public domain, is free of charge and is designed to help both public and private sectors make civil infrastructure more sustainable. The tool is web based and there is an easy to use check list for small projects for which using the full tool is impractical. 

There is also a third party verification component for projects which gives awards for various levels of accomplishment and achievement. There is a charge for that service.

If the aim for sustainability is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, we need to concern ourselves not just with buildings, but with the entire built environment.

Our next blog post will look at Greenroads, another green rating system option for voluntary, non regulatory, stewardship of the planet.

Thank you William J. Bertera, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.