A new U.S. organization has been formed to develop and administer a sustainability rating system for North American infrastructure. The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is an independent non-profit 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’s rating system, which will be launched in summer 2011, is being designed to identify the benefits (environmental, economic, and social) of sustainable practice for owners, regulators, and practitioners. It will be applicable to a wide range of infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to energy and water systems.
While the rating system will be voluntary and web-based, it will also include an option for third-party verification. Its transparent methods are meant to promote community and policy acceptance of sustainable initiatives 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 chairman and ISI board member, Jerry Stump, in a release. “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, 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 as well as third-party certification.
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. The board will hold its first board meeting February 8.