Engineering, Public Works Groups Create Sustainable Infrastructure Institute

The American Council of Engineering Companies, the American Public Works Association, and the American Society of Civil Engineers plan to develop a performance-based rating system that hinges on environmental, economic and social sustainability considerations.

A new, independent non-profit organization tasked with developing and administering a sustainability rating system for North American infrastructure — the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) — will hold its first board meeting on Feb.8 and 9.

The organization was founded by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The ISI rating system is founded on the “triple bottom line” concept of sustainability, which includes environmental, economic, and social considerations, and it is designed to identify the benefits of sustainable practice for owners, regulators, and practitioners. It represents the only comprehensive assessment system that strives to improve a project’s social and environmental performance, while also accounting for economic benefits and creating a better long-term value for the community.

The rating system will be formally launched in the summer of 2011 as a voluntary, Web-based product. However, unlike other tools, the ISI system will include an option for third-party verification and will be applicable to a wide range of infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to energy and water systems. Its robust, objective, and transparent methods will also promote community and policy acceptance of sustainable solutions and encourage knowledge sharing, innovation and collaboration in the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure.

“This is a groundbreaking effort that will give federal, state, and local government agencies a new way to plan and carry out infrastructure projects that achieve broader and longer-term benefits for the American people,” said ACEC Chair and ISI Board member Jerry Stump. “Right now government agencies lack a comprehensive measuring tool that will assess major infrastructure projects in terms of sustainability and other societal needs – the new ISI rating system will fill this need.”

APWA President George R. Crombie, MPA, said: “The goals of this initiative are to create the principles and measuring tools that will assist the public works profession in designing projects that are in harmony with the environment and improve the quality of life of those served. The challenge before us is not what we can build, but can we build in a sustainable manner meeting the goals of the triple bottom line.”

The rating system will be performance-based and adaptable based on project size and complexity, allowing state and federal agencies to use it for the very largest projects, while allowing local governments to use it for smaller projects. The system will also include an option for self-assessment.

The new organization’s nine-member board of directors will include representatives from the three founding organizations. They are:

  • From ACEC: Gerald Stump, P.E., chief operations officer, Wilbur Smith Associates; Terry F. Neimeyer, P.E., chair and CEO, KCI Technologies; Timothy Psomas, P.E., FACEC, Exec. Eng.; chair, Psomas Engineering.
  • From APWA: Vicki Vikery Quiram, P.E., Public Works director, Westwood, Mass.; Howard B. LaFever, BCEE, P.E., principal, GHD, Inc.; Larry Stevens, PE, senior project manager, Howard R. Green Company.
  • From ASCE: Christine F. Andersen, Public Works director, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Peter D. Binney, P.E., National director of Sustainable Infrastructure, Merrick and Company; and D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., D.WRE, F.ASCE, president, Klotz Associates and past president, ASCE.

ISI membership will be open to individuals, organizations and agencies, and the organization will also be developing certification and continuing education programs for rating system users.

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