Case Studies in Leveraging the Triple-Bottom-Line Framework of the Envision Rating System

Authors:

  • Evan Bowles, Norm Bradley, Enrique Vadiveloo - Hazen and Sawyer

Wastewater facilities serve a fundamental role in promoting sustainable practices through abatement of water pollution and spread of disease, but often employ unsustainable practices in capital construction and long-term O&M. In an effort to promote a sustainable paradigm for building construction, USGBC developed the LEED rating system in 2000. Given its specificity towards inhabited structures (e.g. offices, administration buildings), significant difficulty has been experienced in attempting to apply LEED’s ratings credits toward wastewater infrastructure projects. In order to bridge this gap, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure developed the Envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System in 2012. Envision provides a highly applicable framework for project teams that desire to implement a triple-bottom-line approach to utility planning, design, construction, and operation. Although the rating system can be utilized to nationally recognize a project with an award for employment of sustainable implements, it is ideally suited to provide a project team with sustainable “standards of practice” to guide a project beginning with its conceptual phase. This presentation will provide examples of how Envision’s framework can be utilized for alternatives analysis, and as a decision-making tool during planning and preliminary design, with case studies provided.

The first case study will demonstrate how a project team utilized the Envision framework, in tandem with risk/benefit and economic analyses, to evaluate the most sustainable method of addressing the continued operation of an aging, underloaded WWTP whose resiliency is susceptible to extreme weather events. Continued operation with significant upgrade was considered, as well as decommissioning and multiple methods of influent flow diversion to another nearby WWTP. A second case study will illustrate how Envision’s structure was leveraged on a program level to address how a municipal utility could most effectively plan for a forthcoming moratorium on use of existing wastewater effluent ocean outfalls. Use of Envision’s full spectrum triple-bottom-line standard ensured that the project team considered all non-monetary impacts to the surrounding community, resources, and environment, as well as enhancements to the resiliency of the existing and future collection, treatment, and disposal systems.

For more information, please contact the author at ebowles@hazenandsawyer.com.

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