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Annual Report 2011: Sustainability

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Engineering a Sustainable Future

•  Assessing and Recognizing Infrastructure as Sustainable
•  Putting Sustainability Education on Your Desktop
•  Awarding Innovation in Sustainable Projects
•  ‘LEEDing the Way’ with Our Own LEED-EB Story
•  Supporting EPA’s People, Projects and the Planet (P3) Competition
•  ASCE Annual Conference Attendees Ponder Sustainable Solutions

As stewards of our nation’s infrastructure, ASCE has long been an advocate for the concept of sustainability. We provide both education and tools to help our members incorporate a sustainable approach which recognizes and integrates the economic, environmental and social impact of their projects.

Assessing and Recognizing Infrastructure as Sustainable 

envision and ISI logosAs a key part of our dedication to advancing sustainable practices, ASCE worked jointly with the American Council of Engineering Companies and the American Public Works Association to establish an independent not-for-profit 501c(3) organization, the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. The partnership developed and conferred to ISI a prototype infrastructure rating tool, called envisionTM, to rate the sustainability of an infrastructure project at any point in its life cycle. 

The public comment version of the rating system, envision version 1.0, was released in July 2011. Many people gave in-depth feedback and and suggestions on the rating system. ISI subsequently incorporated those comments, in addition to collaborating with the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, to develop envision version 2.0. ASCE was deeply involved in reviewing the combined rating system before the January 2012 public launch. 

The merged rating system, called the ISI envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System, combined and reorganized the envision credits, improved readability, and incorporated the public comments. The envision rating system evaluates grades in several categories and gives recognition to infrastructure projects that use transformational, collaborative approaches to assess the sustainability indicators over the course of a project’s life cycle. No other U.S. program fills the need for a nationally recognized, objective and comprehensive framework that describe the elements of sustainable civil infrastructure projects.  

Putting Sustainability Education on Your Desktop 

ASCE’s newly developed certificate course, Fundamentals of Sustainable Engineering, provides civil engineers with 15-hours of online instruction in strategic design and implementation of sustainability. The course covers critical issues associated with the Triple Bottom Line approach to sustainable infrastructure development, which calls for the support of economic growth, social progress and environmental stewardship on all projects. Photographs, diagrams, videos and discussions provide the body of knowledge required to design and deliver sustainable infrastructure projects. This course is the first in a more comprehensive, full certification training program. 

Sustainability in Action: Project Profiles 

Project ProfilesASCE members, their clients and colleagues can now find and celebrate ideas and solutions for sustainable infrastructure through an expanding library of sustainable project profiles spanning all sectors and scope. A focal point of ASCE’s enhanced sustainability website, the project profiles are categorized by type, location, budget and other features. Site visitors can submit new profiles to the library and rate and comment on existing profiles. Other new features on the site include articles on sustainability from past and present issues of Civil Engineering magazine. 

Awarding Innovation in Sustainable Projects 

ASCE inaugurated the Innovation in Sustainable Civil Engineering Award in 2011 with Menomonee Valley Industrial Center and Community Park in Milwaukee, WI, as its first recipient. The award recognizes innovation in design and construction that advances the economic, social, and environmental principles of sustainability and extends development and public understanding of sustainability in engineering design, construction and operations.  

The Menomonee Valley project is one of Wisconsin’s most successful brownfields redevelopments. The 130-acre site was an intensively used manufacturing area for more than 125 years that lay abandoned for the last 20 years. The site presented a host of obstacles to redevelopment: contaminated soils, abandoned materials and facilities, and its location within the Menomonee River 100-year floodplain. The site was turned into a vibrant industrial/recreational site with 35 acres of recreational space and a major segment of the 14-mile Hank Aaron State Trail. 

‘LEEDing the Way’ with Our Own LEED-EB Story 

LEEDing the Way Blog bannerIn recognition of ASCE’s commitment to sustainability, the ASCE Foundation, which owns the Society’s headquarters building, is pursuing LEED-EB Gold certification for the 1980s-era building. (EB stands for existing buildings.) With funding generously provided by the ASCE Foundation, changes are under way, including an employee transportation study, a designated outdoor smoking area, replacement of our old lighting with T8 tubes with electric ballasts and upgrading the building’s 44 toilets with auto-flushing Zurns. 

Making the operation of older, existing buildings more sustainable, and determining which investments offer a realistic return, is a tremendous challenge. To share our experiences with other building owners, we’re documenting the journey with a blog called “LEEDing the Way.”  

Supporting EPA’s People, Projects and the Planet (P3) Competition 

To kick off the National Sustainable Design Expo, part of the 2011 EPA Earth Day celebration held in April, ASCE sponsored an opening reception for P3 participants and organizers at the United States Botanic Gardens. David Mongan, P.E.,F.ASCE, Pres.08.ASCE addressed the students at the reception and commended them for the time they spent researching, developing and designing real-world solutions to challenges that affect the sustainability of human society and improving the profession’s body of knowledge.  

During the P3 event, ASCE also joined with Engineers Without Borders-USA to present a student team from the University of Toledo with a Sustainable Development award. The team received $1,000 and a certificate for meeting the award criteria for “demonstrated demand and engagement by the community, demonstrated potential and long-term viability, and potential  for a impact on the quality of life for a developing region.” The team won the award for their ingenuity and resourcefulness in designing a water sanitation system for a Honduras village that removed such heavy metals as lead and cadmium. 

ASCE Annual Conference Attendees Ponder Sustainable Solutions 

Annual Conference“Sustainable Infrastructure – Civil Engineering Solutions” was the theme of ASCE’s 2011 Annual Conference. From opening speaker Wayne G. Clough, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to a tour with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers of the flood control structures along the Mississippi River, ASCE provided attendees with a wide range of information. Participants learned about sustainable infrastructure topics such as: Case Studies in Revolutionary Sustainable Solutions, the Evolution of Sustainable Measurement, Sustainable Restoration in Urban Environments and more.