Envision is a sustainability rating system for civil infrastructure in the U.S. It was launched in 2012 by the nonprofit Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) in conjunction with the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University. Envision evaluates, grades and gives recognition to projects that positively address economic, social and environmental impacts—the ‘triple bottom line’ as often referred to in our industry. This rating system is guiding public agencies, designers and contractors to collaboratively develop a new generation of infrastructure—from roads and bridges to subways and airports—that meets community needs, delivers economic benefits, conserves the environment and incorporates resiliency to protect future generations.
Skanska has actively been involved in the evolution of Envision, becoming a Charter Member of ISI in 2015, one of only two construction companies to do so.
Leveraging this roadmap to build what matters
In 2019, Envision version 3.0 launched, and Skanska’s LaGuardia Terminal B Redevelopment project became the first project ever to receive the award. The project includes a new 35-gate terminal, a Central Hall, parking garage, roadways and supporting infrastructure. Its’ planning, design and construction have significant social, environmental and economic benefits, which earned it Envision Platinum—the highest certification possible.
The new terminal was designed with energy reduction in mind, which means that its operations will require 19 percent less energy than conventional designs. In addition, by optimizing the design, such as reducing the number of piles, we reduced the project’s embodied carbon (the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the production of materials) by 10 percent. Following the PANYNJ’s Climate Resilience Design Guidelines, the design of the terminal and associated critical infrastructure accounts for future sea level rise making the terminal less vulnerable to storm surge. During demolition of the original parking garage, we recycled 21,604 tons of concrete; of this recycled concrete, roughly 2,500 tons were reused on an adjacent jobsite.
Lastly, from a community engagement standpoint the project team created the Connect Committee, which volunteers at local events throughout the year and has initiated dozens of community programs such as classes that teach children the fundamentals of 3D virtual design.
Our Westside Subway Extension, Section 1 project in California was awarded Envision Platinum under version 2.0 in 2019. The 3.9-mile underground subway extension includes three underground stations and connects downtown Los Angeles to Beverly Hills. To receive Envision Platinum, the project earned 395 out of 790 points within the rating system’s five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Risk. The project provides a safe and efficient public transportation option for its 286,000 transit riders. A sustainable highlight of the project is its innovative biofiltration and infiltration basins, dry wells and porous pavement that treat and retain 6,396 cubic feet of rainfall. Because of this design, the project delivers a 149 percent water management improvement compared to predevelopment conditions.
Closing out 2019, our Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) Northeastern Pedestrian Crossing project in Boston, Massachusetts earned Envision Bronze under version 2.0. This 132-foot, elevated pedestrian crossing connects the new ISEC complex at the Northeastern University’s Huntington Avenue Campus with the Fenway and Roxbury communities. Construction of the bridge focused on safety and efficiency, with our team using innovative methods and safety-enhanced equipment to erect the entire bridge over the course of two nights; this reduced risk of potential injury, equipment malfunction and interruptions to rail service. Formed of weathering steel that incorporates a high percentage of recycled content, the bridge is designed to rust in a controlled way over time. The rusting process will form a corrosion-resistant surface layer, extending the life of the bridge and reducing maintenance requirements and associated costs. The bridge provides an attractive and safe means of commuting for pedestrians and cyclists making the surrounding community less dependent on vehicles.
Skanska’s Leadership in Envision
Skanska’s leadership in driving sustainable construction and our long-term partnership with ISI has helped us achieve many more “firsts” with Envision:
Exposition Light Rail Phase 2, Los Angeles, California: The first Envision Platinum transit project in the U.S. This 6.6-mile project took hundreds of thousands of cars off the roads and bolstered the local economy during construction: the Expo Phase 2 team included 302 small business enterprises, 71 percent of them were disadvantaged business enterprises. In addition to providing a mass transit option for Southern Californians, along the entire length of the rail we leveraged unused space by installing a bike path with native vegetation.
I-4 Ultimate, Orlando, Florida: The first project in the state of Florida to earn an Envision award.
Reconstructing 21 miles of roadway and 15 major interchanges, widening 13 bridges, replacing 74 bridges and building 53 new bridges makes this project one of the largest in the U.S. It earned Envision Platinum due to the team’s efforts to minimize environmental impacts, including relocating protected wildlife, using efficient machinery, controlling stormwater runoff, planting non-invasive vegetation, and recycling 99 percent of the concrete and steel removed from roads and bridges.
Boston Landing Station, Boston, Massachusetts: The first transit project in the Northeast to receive an Envision award.
Achieving Envision Silver, the project involved constructing a new MBTA Commuter Rail Station, platform with pedestrian overpass, and associated site improvements. The project returns commuter rail access to a community that had not had it for over 45 years, significantly improving quality of life for residents and stimulating sustainable growth. Street lighting, sidewalk improvements, a CCTV security system and bike storage encourage pedestrian use.
26th Ward Wastewater Treatment Plant, Brooklyn, New York: The first Envision-verified wastewater treatment plant in the U.S.
More and more public agencies are realizing the importance and value of Envision. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection pursued Envision Silver in this project’s design prior to partnering with Skanska on its construction. Design features included installation of new process blowers in the interior of the facility to reduce noise in the community, efficient and durable main sewage pumps, LED lighting and a green roof.
Envision supports our sustainable construction efforts and provides us with an additional way to identify opportunities and reduce risk. This allows us to do what we all love: build what matters. In fact, the triple bottom line philosophy that guides Envision aligns with Skanska’s values and how we define sustainability:
- Safety: We care for life. We work safely, or not at all.
- Ethics: We do business with a high degree of integrity and transparency.
- Sustainability: We promote value-based solutions.
- Diversity and Inclusion: We foster an inclusive culture and leverage diversity to deliver the best solutions.
- Corporate Community Investment: We engage in the communities in which we work and establish long-term relationships.