Envision - new framework for evaluating roads and infrastructure, similar to LEED standards for buildings

The KCStar is covering a new scoring and evaluation system for infrastructure, including roads, that rates its environmental impact:

This month, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure unveiled Envision, a new rating system designed to provide third-party certification for green infrastructure.

Envision aims to be to bridges, roads and parking lots what LEED is to homes, businesses and offices, its creators say. Using a point system to cover 60 criteria across five categories, Envision gives engineers, infrastructure owners, policymakers and others a framework for evaluating the environmental impact of infrastructure projects.

"If we can't define sustainability, we can't measure it," said Paul Zofnass, founder of the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, one of the collaborators behind Envision. "If we can't measure it, we can't assess it. If we can't assess it, we can't improve it."

The American Council of Engineering Companies, the American Public Works Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers are also backing the new assessment tool.  . . .

What, then, is a green road? What could you possibly do to make a stretch of asphalt - or any type of infrastructure - any more or less green? 

For starters, experts say, you could use a lighter shade of pavement. Dark pavement has a tendency to absorb light, meaning it takes more electricity to keep streets and parking lots adequately lit at night. You might reduce the number of lanes dedicated for cars, install bike lanes and widen the sidewalks, thereby promoting walking and biking.
 
Even sidewalks can benefit from sustainable upgrades, including the use of pervious concrete, which allows rainwater to trickle down beneath it, managing storm water runoff while better watering trees planted along a streetscape. . . . 
 
Instead of thinking of a road as a simple stretch of asphalt, Weinstein says engineers and designers are concentrating on infrastructure's "triple bottom line" - a cost-benefit analysis that takes into account not only a project's economic impact, but also its social and environmental effects.
 
Engineers and architects say the changes cannot come quickly enough.
 
"This need for more and greater infrastructure, in our view, is not going to go away," said Zofnass. "There has never been a government that has survived if they could not provide their society, their people, their civilization with adequate and improved infrastructure."

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