Written by Lindsey Machamer

As a civil engineer, I feel proud to be contributing to the development of our public infrastructure which will be around for 25, 50, or even 100 years. The state of the US infrastructure is at a critical point where significant investment is needed to redevelop degraded roads, water and wastewater utilities, and energy systems. New systems need to be built to address the needs of today without jeopardizing future generations’ needs.

In my work at Pare Corporation, I have been learning and working with Envision, a rating system for infrastructure projects, similar to the LEED rating system for building projects. I was thrilled to share what I’ve learned about this system with the Emerging Professionals meeting in July. The rating system, which was released in 2012, was developed by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI), a group founded by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the American Public Works Association. The system comprises of 60 credits in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk.

Envision is uniquely qualified for the challenges inherent in infrastructure development. Infrastructure, being a public feature, is not owned by a single developer. It is owned, operated, used, regulated, and funded by a broad spectrum of stakeholders. Envision is designed to create a consistent approach to measuring as well as guiding a project’s contribution to economic, environmental, and social aspects of sustainability. One of the hallmarks of the system is its focus on stakeholder collaboration. The credits in the “Leadership” category are structured to facilitate input early and often to best meet the needs of all parties involved (including the natural world).

The American Society of Civil Engineers, in a statement on sustainable infrastructure, compels designers to be “the bridge between science and society.” The Envision rating system is a tool that helps us live up to that responsibility by helping to guide sustainable decision making and provide clear communication for all involved.

To learn more about the Envision rating system and to find examples of local Envision Verified Projects,  visit sustainableinfrastructure.org.

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