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Evan Sheesley, PE, ENV SP from BergerABAM describes how the project team used Envision as a project self-assessment tool to benchmark the Port of Everett’s planning and design processes. Mr. Sheesley leads ABAM’s in house sustainability committee and is the co-founder of the local ASCE Sustainability Committee in Seattle, WA.


The Port of Everett tested the use of Envision to determine the level of sustainability achieved on a typical small capital improvement project. With the help of BergerABAM, the designer of record, the project team applied Envision to the Dolphin Berth Improvement project at the 100 percent design phase.

Project Description

Originally designed as a log handling facility, the Dolphin Berth at the Port’s South Terminal can accommodate vessels up to 600 feet long with a maximum loaded displacement of approximately 50,000 tons. To be capable of berthing vessels up to 860 feet long displacing a maximum of approximately 75,000 tons, the facility requires an upgrade that consists of these four major elements:

  • Construct one new berthing dolphin (a group of piles driven close and tied together to provide fixed mooring in the open sea)
  • Repair and upgrade an existing collision-damaged dolphin
  • Removal of creosote treated piles
  • Upgrade the fender system elements on all dolphin berth structures

As a result of these efforts, the Port will have new operational capacity in roll-on, roll-off operations to support the construction and manufacturing industry. The minimal impact design strategy of integrating with an existing facility was chosen to reduce cost and environmental impacts.

Using Envision

Overall, the project achieved 26.2 percent of the total applicable points. The project scored highest in Natural World because the project is sited on an existing development and a portion of the project cost will go to building new wildlife habitat as part of the Port’s 2 percent for public access policy. The lowest score came from the Resource Allocation category. Although the project utilized an existing structure and a high percentage of recycled materials, improvements in this category could be made by performing life cycle analysis in the concept phase of a project. Implementing strategies based on a climate impact assessment, across all Port properties, would also improve the score.

The Port’s strong commitment to sustainability comes from many aspects, including advancing environmental initiatives to improve air and water quality in the Puget Sound. As an active participant in the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum, a collaboration of maritime organizations, regional air agencies, and other groups, the Port voluntarily quantifies its air emissions and develops strategies to reduce the impacts of the air pollution they generate. Some of these strategies include switching to electric gantry cranes, purchasing hybrid vehicles, and switching to ultra-low sulfur emitting diesel fuel. The Port also employed low impact development strategies to collect and treat stormwater from all of its industrial property, including South Terminal. These efforts would help the Port reach higher levels of achievement in Climate and Risk Credit 1.2 (reduce emissions) and Resource and Allocation Credit 2.1 (reduce fusil fuels resulting in reduced energy consumption.

Along with its progressive policy of environmental stewardship, the Port has tracked sustainability measures since 2008 and publishes a report on the topic every three years. The Port also engages the community through its open meeting policy and by providing public access to the waterfront. This interest in public engagement is returned – EarthCorps a nonprofit group of volunteers, removes invasive plant species from Jetty Island, the Port’s man-made habitat as well as Union Slough, a salt-marsh restoration site. These actions lead to higher levels of achievement in the Quality of Life Credit 1.1 (identifies community goals) and Leadership Credit 1.4 (stakeholder involvement).

While the project did not take long to rate (approximately 6 hours), collecting information to substantiate the score did take a considerable amount of time because the project team applied the Envision rating system toward the end of the project design phase. Had this process been started from the outset, the documentation and coordination process would have been more streamlined.

If the project was reviewed through the ISI’s 3rd party Verification program, the project team expects the project could earn a Bronze Level award. This is attributed to the Port’s strong commitment to sustainability through environmental stewardship and community outreach. The Port will consider registering the project for verification.

Final Thoughts

Continual improvement of its efforts and goals will allow the Port to raise its sustainability practices and register higher scores on future projects. During this Envision assessment, the project team realized many new strategies that could be used on future projects to help increase sustainable performance. The most prevalent of these was to discuss sustainability goals early in the planning and design of the project. The Envision Checklist and guidance manual are great tools to facilitate that discussion.

For more information regarding the results of this project, visit the Port of Everett website.