The popular LEED rating system now has a sister. She’s called Envision.
While LEED standards are a tool to measure how green a building is, Envision offers criteria to rate the sustainability of physical infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, airports, dams and water treatment systems.
The first-ever project to be Envision certified is an Alaska fish hatchery designed by Omaha-based HDR, the architecture and engineering firm with clients worldwide.
Michaella Wittmann of Omaha, HDR’s sustainability director, said HDR had been wanting just such a system that could help clients understand how sustainability practices could be better integrated into infrastructure projects.
“We think Envision will be a game-changer,” said Wittmann, “doing for sustainable infrastructure what the now-commonplace LEED rating has done for sustainable architecture.”
The Envision standards were developed by the Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure, which was founded by three national engineering associations and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. They were officially released in September 2012.
At that time, the William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery in Anchorage -- the largest indoor sport fish hatchery in North America -- already was completed. A recent third-party Envision evaluation process gave it a gold rating, the third highest of four levels, based on criteria such as reduced energy use, improved quality of life for surrounding communities, greenfields preservation and improved infrastructure integration.
An Envision certification or rating is voluntary and the cost depends on the project. The standards can also be used simply to guide infrastructure design. For example, Wittmann said, Envision standards have been used as a checklist for some of the Omaha combined sewer overflow projects.