Seeking Public Input? This Study Lends Support to Envision’s Role

Envision’s ability to capture the interlocking benefits and trade-offs of infrastructure improvement options, clearly and compellingly, is one of its key strengths. By setting a common language and metrics, the framework is valuable in stakeholder decision-making, as practical experience—and now research—is demonstrating.

One example is a new study looking at how aiding the public to construct preferences may help increase their willingness to support green stormwater infrastructure (e.g., incorporating elements like bioswales, rain gardens, and permeable pavements) over conventional stormwater infrastructure.

Mo Hu, an assistant professor in the department of construction science, Texas A&M School of Architecture and her co-author conducted a national survey with 946 participants in the U.S. Their views were sought on two stormwater management options: one using traditional pipes and pumps and another using natural systems.

Half of the participants were encouraged to think about sustainable design before making a decision, based on a prompt developed using questions from Envision. This group was presented with five Envision credits that were applicable to the case study, as well as an Envision stormwater project example (Buffalo’s Willert Park Green Infrastructure Project), as a guide.

Helping to shape preferences

Among the findings: those who were encouraged to think about the advantages of sustainable design rated the green infrastructure option as significantly more beneficial, and were more likely to recommend it. (When the participants in this experiment were engineers, in a 2022 study by the researchers, the results were similar).

The latest finding is noteworthy, because decision-makers with little prior knowledge or experience tend to construct preferences as they evaluate options, write the authors. Other impediments can also arise. In one study, Krisha Dhakal and Lizette Chevalier showed that people tend to fixate on the traditional functions of stormwater runoff reduction, which can lead to a more pro-traditional mindset.

Professor Hu and Professor Tripp Shealy from Virginia Tech write that their findings help illustrate how “interventions to this preference construction process for the public can help encourage them to adopt more green infrastructure design.”

[Note: The authors, who are not affiliated with ISI, published the study in J. Env. Psych, June 2023]

On a wide variety of infrastructure projects, the Envision framework is providing a consensus-based system and a common language around sustainable design objectives, and similarly with this study, considering sustainable design earlier encourages support for sustainable infrastructure by offering an attractive, well-articulated justification for decision-makers.

In this study, simply asking the public to consider how each option contributes to achieving predefined sustainability goals prior to making other judgements about cost, risk, or benefits “significantly increases their preference for the more sustainable design option.”

For information on Envision, view the Use Envision page and the Envision packet.

A Week of ISI Outreach: Capital Hill Briefing, Virginia AWWA, CFD Breakfast

Anthony Kane with ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith, Jennifer Goupil, Chief Resilience Officer, ASCE, and  Carol Haddock, Director, Houston Public Works following a congressional briefing on Sept. 12.

Sept. 11 – 15 marked a busy week of outreach for ISI. President & CEO Anthony Kane took part in a Capitol Hill Briefing for congressional staff on Sept. 12, joined by speakers from ASCE and the City of Houston. He had the opportunity to provide a short presentation on the Envision framework at this briefing. ASCE Executive Director Thomas Smith, Jennifer Goupil, Chief Resilience Officer, ASCE, and Carol Haddock, Director, Houston Public Works also presented.

On Sept. 11, Anthony was in Virginia Beach, Va. for the WaterJAM 2023 Event. This is the Joint Annual Meeting of the Virginia Water Environment Association and the Virginia Section of the American Waterworks Association, and there is a special “Envision for Water/Wastewater Projects Workshop” on the agenda this year. Anthony joined in a discussion with seasoned professionals in the water sector, from Prince William County Service Authority, HRSD, Ulliman Schutte Construction, Arcadis, Arlington County Government, and Hazen and Sawyer.

On Sept. 13, Anthony attended the Committee For Dulles’s 2023 Sustainable Infrastructure Breakfast in Herndon, Virginia. A panel of technical experts, industry influencers, stakeholders, and community leaders will examine opportunities and challenges ahead in sustainability and resilience: Robert W. Lazaro, Jonathan Matheny, Emily Feenstra, Matt Reiffer, Anthony Kane, and J. Michael Sawyers (moderator).

Bear Creek Solar Project Obtains Envision Platinum

A 50-megawatt (MW) solar project in Richland County, Wisconsin, Bear Creek Solar will produce enough clean, low-cost energy to power approximately 13,000 homes. It is the second Alliant Energy project announced this year to receive an award, with the Wood County Solar Project earning Envision Platinum award in April.

The Bear Creek Solar Project is one of Alliant Energy’s 12 utility-scale solar projects in Wisconsin. In all, the company expects to add nearly 1,100 MW of solar generation in the state by mid-2024. It’s part of the company’s transition to a more diversified energy mix that includes adding more clean energy generation, as outlined in its Clean Energy Blueprint.


“This Envision Platinum recognition from ISI supports our decision to transition to cleaner energy through projects like the Bear Creek Solar Project,” said Barbara Tormaschy, senior vice president of sustainability and regulatory strategy at Alliant Energy. “The sustainable development and construction of renewable projects allows us to create a healthier environment while providing the reliable energy our customers expect.

Read the full announcement here.