Assessing the Sustainability of Infrastructure

Water, transportation, energy, and food are four of the sixteen critical infrastructures identified by the U.S. government that are so vital that their breakdown or destruction would have a debilitating effect on national security, economic development, public health, and safety (Presidential Policy Directive PPD-21).

How does one assess the sustainability of infrastructure? Here we discuss one such approach.

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A detailed approach developed by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure is called ENVISION. The Institute was founded by ASCE in 2010. This rating system provides a standardized approach to evaluating projects over the project’s entire life cycle with the use of more than sixty metrics from five main categories: a) quality of life, b) leadership, c) resource allocation, d) natural world, and e) climate and resilience. Key to the ENVISION process is not only asking if you are doing the right project, but also asking if you are doing the project right.

Total project scores that meet a minimum criteria are given Verified status. Higher scores can result in awards ranging from Bronze to Platinum. Project evaluation must be performed by credentialed professionals (look here how you can eventually become one, (Links to an external site.)).

ENVISION is gaining popularity as a sustainability assessment tool for infrastructure and can be used for a wide range of projects such as water distribution, parks, public transit and energy production facilities. For more information see (Links to an external site.) and (Links to an external site.).”

Learning Materials: (Before completing the assignment, watch these 3 videos and explore these two web sites. Use the information within them to complete the assignment.)

  1. Sustainability and Resilience in Our Engineered World (3.58 minutes) (Links to an external site.)
  2. Busting Infrastructure Silos with Envision™ Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System (2.18 mins) (Links to an external site.)
  3. What is Envision? (1.59 mins) (Links to an external site.)


1. What are the two steps to become an Envision Sustainability Professional?

2. How long (hours) is the workshop? How long (hours) does it take to complete the on-demand modules?

3. On theSI Envision website (Links to an external site.) , search for one Envision Qualified Company and one Envision Supported Agency (public sector organization) located in Florida. Provide a screenshot from the Envision web site to verify the two entities you selected are an Envision qualified company and Envision supported agency

4. How many sustainability and resilience indicators does Envision include?

5. What are the five categories these indicators are organized around?

6. Use the Envision Rating System Self-Assessment Checklist provided to you in this excel spreadsheet to complete a-c (click link and download; note this checklist is for Public Comment Only – Not for Project Use)

    • a) For your capstone design project, fill in the spreadsheet for your capstone project and see you are doing in terms of total points in each of the five categories (provide screenshot of the completed checklist)
    • b) summarize your total points in each of the five categories,
    • c) what can you do to improve your capstone project in terms of sustainability and resilience?

Assignment should be a word document or pdf. Please include screenshots as part of the doc/pdf, not as JPEGs (you should be able to copy and paste into a doc). Submit 6a as a screenshot – DO NOT SUBMIT AN EXCEL FILE. Clearly label you answers.

Background: Assessing the Sustainability of Infrastructure (text reproduced from Mihelcic, J.R., J.B. Zimmerman, Environmental Engineering: Fundamentals, Sustainability, Design, 3rd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2021).

Learning Objectives: Students will: 1) become familiar with the Envision process to rate the sustainability of infrastructure and understand how an engineer early career professional can become an Envision Sustainability Professional. 2) apply an Envision rating system to your capstone design project and assess how well your project scores in the 5 categories that individual sustainability and resilience indicators are organized around.

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