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Incorporating Programmatic Sustainability Using Envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System

Evan Bowles PE, ENV SP - Hazen and Sawyer; Bruce Husselbee PE - Hampton Roads Sanitation District

Last Modified Jul 05, 2022

The Envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System was released in 2012 to provide guidance on sustainable practices for the planning, design, construction, and long-term O&M of civil infrastructure. The use of Envision has increased dramatically over this six-year period, with significant embrace and use in the water infrastructure sector. Envision provides a highly applicable framework for water utilities and their project teams that desire to implement a full-spectrum triple bottom line approach to all phases of their infrastructure’s life cycle.

Although Envision can be used to nationally recognize the sustainable accomplishments of an infrastructure project with an award, its merits also lend itself to be leveraged as a practical framework to strengthen a water utility’s many programmatic elements. The concepts and themes included within Envision can be used for myriad purposes, including:

  • Distillation of “abstract” sustainability concepts into understandable activities
  • Transformation of “top-down” sustainability initiatives into actionable, measurable practices
  • Development of guidelines or standard operating procedures that allow consistency in approach to projects or planning efforts
  • Clarity, organization, and transparency for stakeholder engagement and public relation efforts
  • Increased public confidence in the value of infrastructure investments and practices

Water utilities across the country are striving to become more sustainable. A major focus of the Effective Utility Management Primer is the concept of sustainability. The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) – Virginia Beach, Virginia, is also very focused on sustainability. HRSD’s Vision is "Future generations will inherit clean waterways and be able to keep them clean." This statement can be argued is a summary of the sustainability concept. HRSD has made many strides to be a sustainable organization. Some of the efforts include:

  • Oyster reef creation
  • Use of green energy vehicles
  • Energy audits of treatment plants
  • Neighborhood clean-ups
  • Remote work options for staff

While these efforts, and others, are important, they do not directly address the area of infrastructure sustainability. To address the area of sustainability, HRSD has integrated the Envision System into capital project planning and implementation. The Envision System was chosen due to its flexibility and alignment with both horizontal (pipeline projects) and vertical (pump station and treatment plant) initiatives. This presentation will discuss how HRSD uses the Envision System to promote sustainable principles and examples of the use of this system in practice within a large capital improvement program.