By Kevin Thornton, PE, ENV SP, STP
Many times clients are not interested in pursuing an Envision™ rating because they think it’s just about a score. “Why spend $10,000 for a plaque that will just hang in my office?” They are missing the point. Even if the client does not pursue certification, going through the Envision checklist process is well worth it. It’s not just about assessing the project, but rather influencing the project for the better.
- Strengthens team building: By working closely on improving the project with various members of the team, such as the owner, engineer, environmental planner and the landscape architect, stronger relationships are built. This will lead to a better overall understanding of how other disciplines operate, as well as improved relationships on future projects.
- Improves public relations: Even if you don’t get credentialed, you can still share the results of your efforts at public meetings and open houses. Just going through the process and letting the public know what changes were made in the name of sustainability will lead to more credibility for the owner and project team and maybe even fewer complaints about the project going forward.
- Causes direct improvements: Some direct improvements to the project include improving quality of life, reaching higher levels of sustainability, evaluating the environmental benefits of new processes and technologies, and assessing monetary savings (both up-front, as well as over the life of the project).
- Builds a knowledge base for future projects: One of the main goals of Envision is to reduce our environmental footprint without sacrificing quality of life. As you work through the Envision process on projects, you will improve your knowledge base and find ways to improve on future projects, innovating on each and every project.
Going through the process helps the team determine what elements of the project can be improved. I suggest taking a few lunches, gather the project team together (the engineers, planners, landscape architects, and the owner, if possible) and go through the checklist. Together, you may find many opportunities to improve the quality of your projects, possibly even going in a direction you hadn’t thought of before. This can be done without any increase in costs or possibly even result in a decrease in cost.
The best time to do this is at the concept stage, at 15% plans. This is when the most suggestions to improve sustainability can be incorporated. However, any time you go through the checklist on a project, even if the design is complete, you will still increase your sustainability knowledge base to implement on future projects.
Kevin Thornton, PE, ENV SP, STP is Psomas’ Director of Sustainability and a senior project manager in the Psomas engineering group.