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Sustainability Principles and Envision in the Water Sector: A Utility Survey

Evan Bowles PE, ENV SP, Malia Dunn-Reier – Hazen and Sawyer; Abigail Farrell, PE, ENV SP – EPA Region 9

As environmental sustainability becomes increasingly important to infrastructure providers and users alike, organizations are seeking ways to optimize their investments while getting the most “green” from every dollar.

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure’s (ISI) Envision framework is one tool municipalities have leveraged for the last decade to quantify, prioritize, and rate the sustainability of their water infrastructure projects. Envision can help planners make more sustainable choices when designing water systems, which can lead to higher performance through the project’s life cycle.

While Envision has established standards for sustainable infrastructure, quantifying its true impact has proven difficult. The tool’s designers have needed more research to determine the rate at which utilities are adopting sustainability principles, the industry’s attitude toward Envision, and utilities’ willingness – and ability – to incorporate sustainability into their projects.

At the suggestion of Hazen staff, the Water Environment Foundation (WEF) Envision Task Force agreed to survey its members and member utilities to better understand how they are using Envision and identify barriers to incorporating sustainable features into their capital and O&M programs. The survey was administered by WEF, and Hazen sustainability staff led the planning, execution, and analyses of results. The results are detailed in the Power BI dashboard below, which was also designed by Hazen.

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Click the image above to explore the full PowerBI dashboard.

Evan Bowles, Hazen’s Sustainability Lead, is presenting the dashboard and survey findings to the WEF/AWWA Utility Management Committee during its upcoming September meeting, and plans to present the findings at WEFTEC 2023.

“Hazen was an early adopter of Envision through our work in Nashville, New York, and Miami-Dade,” Bowles explained. “Since then, our capabilities, credentials and value-based approach to sustainability have contributed to key project wins for Hampton Roads Sanitation District, Maine Water, and other clients. Investing time in organizations like WEF increases our industry visibility and strengthens our ability to serve other clients that are just beginning to prioritize sustainability practices within their capital programs.”

This survey and dashboard are the latest in a long history of Hazen’s collaboration with WEF and ISI to support the development and adoption of the Envision framework for the water infrastructure market. Previous partnerships and recent achievements include: