ENV SP Spotlight: Michael Bloom

 

Michael Bloom, PE, ENV SP, BCEE, CFM is the Sustainability Practice Manager at R. G. Miller Engineers, Inc., in Houston, Texas.  He is responsible for wetlands, natural resources work, nature-based stormwater management, and surface water quality management projects. He has 28 years of experience in environmental consulting.

ISI staff had the chance to connect with Michael, and he provided the following insights from his career:

Professional Experience

What drew you to your field of work?

I have always had a keen interest in “making a difference” while applying science and engineering knowledge and skills.  I’d read articles in the late 1980s about Superfund clean-ups and a company called Roy F. Weston, Inc. doing projects like that. This piqued my interest, and I got to work for Roy F. Weston, Inc. back in the early 1990s.

What has been your biggest career challenge?

One one project I needed to deliver a complex information technology (IT) solution to a state agency on time, on budget, and while meeting client expectations about how the system would function.  A working IT solution was ultimately delivered, but the client was dissatisfied, the budget was overrun, and the technology team was exhausted. I learned that information technology projects are extremely challenging to deliver and that every consultant sometimes has a project that fails to make a profit.

What has been your proudest career moment?

organized and conducted a pre-conference workshop at a national conference on watershed management.  It was particularly rewarding to have the workshop sell out and generate lots of positive feedback from attendees.

Envision Experience

Why did you decide to pursue an Envision credential?

I saw that it was backed by ACEC, APWA, and ASCE – all large, well established organizations. I thought that adoption would take off and I felt that I needed to get credentialed or I would be left behind.

How are you using Envision?

I have been advocating for its use in the Houston region since 2010.  I helped secure resolutions of support for its use by Houston Wilderness, the North Houston Association, and the West Houston Association.  As an ISI trainer, I’m now among those training private sector practitioners as well as people who work for the Harris County Engineering Department, after the department announced they would be moving forward with its use on projects.  As an ISI trained Verifier, I’ve reviewed two large projects that have completed the entire process.

Could you share some highlights from an Envision project?

I helped teach a class in Advanced Sustainable Design at Rice University. We had the class use Envision to evaluate the sustainability of three different storm surge protection options for the Houston metropolitan area. The total Envision credit score was determined for all three options.  Through this evaluation, the students discovered that the net embodied carbon of all three barrier systems were not insignificant. Student groups used the entire Envision credit system to evaluate the three barrier options and present their findings in a report and in a presentation.

Fun Facts

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?

I enjoy science fiction, helping my wife in the garden, the ancient eastern board game of “GO.”

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I am a sucker for almost any type of cat or dog. We currently have 3 cats and 1 dog at home. I drive my wife to a particular garden-supply place in town — that usually has rescue kittens and puppies for adoption – just so I can pet them.

Credential Maintenance: Required Courses for 2019

As a part of the Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) credential maintenance program, ISI prescribes two courses annually that all ENV SPs are required to complete. These courses ensure all ENV SPs have the same foundational understanding of Envision and the current trends within the sustainable infrastructure sector.

Required courses are added to all ENV SPs’ accounts at the beginning of the renewal period. The following two courses were published and are available as the 2019 required courses for ENV SPs whose credential maintenance renewal period began in 2019.

ISI Required Course 2019: The Envision Framework

The purpose of this course is to examine the six components of the Envision framework. Each of the components are presented in detail, providing a comprehensive look at the framework. This course describes the interrelatedness of the components, illustrating how they optimally support the framework together.

ISI Required Course 2019: Sustainable Infrastructure and the Role of Envision

This course provides an overview of the trends impacting the implementation of sustainable infrastructure. Envision is detailed as a framework that can be used to address challenges in the infrastructure sector.

Log in to your ISI account to access these courses. For additional information on how to complete these courses and use the other credential maintenance features of your ISI account, please reference the illustrated Web Tutorial: ENV SP Credential Maintenance.

New Online Course for ENV SPs Available

We are 6 months into our new credential maintenance program and Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs) are eager for more courses to continue learning and to meet their credential maintenance requirements.

To meet growing demand for new courses, ISI has recently published a new course titled Beyond the Basics: Envision Verification. This course provides a detailed look at the verification process allowing for a streamlined project review. The first of many new courses to be added to the online library, this course qualifies for one elective, or “user’s choice”, education hour toward maintaining the ENV SP credential. The course is available for purchase in ENV SPs’ accounts. ENV SPs may use their continuing education credit to purchase the course.

Log in to your ISI account to access this course. For additional information on how to purchase this course and use the other new credential maintenance features of your ISI account, reference the illustrated Web Tutorial: ENV SP Credential Maintenance.

It is not too late for ENV SPs to enrol in the credential maintenance program. The enrollment grace period for ENV SPs who originally earned their credential prior to 2018 ends on June 30th, 2019. Enroll today to access the Beyond the Basics: Envision Verification course and other informative courses that will be made available soon.

ISI Celebrates One-Year Anniversary of Envision v3

It has been just over one year since the release of Envision v3, the latest iteration of this leading sustainable infrastructure framework. This one-year anniversary is an opportune time to reflect not only on the past 12 months since the release of the Envision v3 Guidance Manual, but also on the history of how we got to where we are today.

Envision was developed as a resource to support the planning, design, and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Publicly released seven years ago in April 2012, Envision was initially born out of a collaboration between the Harvard University’s Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure and ISI which was founded by the American Public Works Association, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. The first framework of its kind in North America, Envision has been used to credential more than 8,000 professionals in the infrastructure industry. ISI counts among its members more than 400 companies, government agencies, and universities committed to using Envision to develop more sustainable infrastructure. And to-date, 75 projects constituting more than US$20 billion in infrastructure development has been verified against the Envision credits.

Following the release of Envision and its establishment in the market, it was recognized that the custodianship and ongoing development of this resource belonged in the hands of the industry itself. This led to the establishment of the Envision Review Board (ERB) on May 1, 2015. As part of its first acts in 2015, the ERB began working on the development of the next iteration of Envision—known as Envision v3. After six years of applying Envision on billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure assets, the industry had progressed significantly, and ISI had learned a great deal about the Envision assessment process and how Envision was applied to real-world projects so it was time to capture those lessons learned and incorporate them into Envision v3. (Learn more about some of the main differences between Envision v2 and Envision v3 here.)

In addition to the technical work and oversight provided by the ERB, 65 professionals from across the United States and Canada -who were divided into 13 technical committees based on their expertise – contributed their knowledge to develop Envision v3. These experts spent a year reviewing the Envision credits and laying the foundation for Envision v3. The work of the technical committees was then carried forward by ISI staff and the Envision Review Board. A public comment period in 2017 provided a robust set of feedback which was the basis for the final round of improvements and modifications. The end result, with sponsorship support from the Envision Leadership Circle, Envision v3 Guidance Manual (Manual) was released one year ago in April 2018.

The release of the Manual was followed by the launch of a new Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) training course, a credential maintenance program for ENV SPs, an Envision verification program based on Envision v3, and the newly released Envision v3 Pre-Assessment Checklist.

On this important milestone in the history of ISI – the one-year anniversary since the launch of Envision v3 – we would like to thank the ERB and the dozens of industry experts who contributed their time and expertise to the development of Envision, and the members of the Envision Leadership Circle whose contributions helped make the development and launch of Envision v3 possible.

 

 

ISI Launches Video on Envision

Opening scene in ISI’s video promoting Envision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new video promoting Envision and ISI, which clearly illustrates the need for and outcomes of Envision.

This video serves as an elevator pitch to start the conversation around Envision, and the importance of planning, designing and building more sustainable and resilient infrastructure. It is a continued demonstration of ISI’s new vision of increased collaboration and engagement, and better equipping stakeholders with more tools to promote the importance of sustainable infrastructure globally.

Watch the video HERE.

 

Scene in ISI’s video promoting Envision [from YouTube]

ENV SP Spotlight: Mabe Garcia-Rincon

Maria Beatriz (Mabe) Garcia-Rincon is an urban and climate change specialist at the World Bank focused on environmental and climate green financing. Prior to her appointment with the World Bank, she was at Harvard University, participating in a fellowship in sustainable infrastructure.

She is also the executive director and founder of Urban Elements Foundation (UEF), an international development agency. She has over nine years of experience in consulting on city development. Mabe has a keen commitment to international human development goals.  Throughout her career, she emphasizes addressing climate change, low-carbon city development, and innovative financing in an effort to create social equilibrium.

ISI staff had the chance to connect with Mabe to learn more about her career and her experience with Envision:

Professional Experience

What drew you to your field of work?

In 2009, I worked at the World Bank to help a team account for the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) of the organization’s footprint in all 144 country offices and headquarters. I conducted three life-cycle analyses of the organization’s waste streams, water and energy use. From this initial introduction, I became interested in sustainable development and specifically, sustainable infrastructure. I began to consider my own individual GHG footprint and started living a life that was holistically sustainable with a mental life-cycle analysis of each of my actions.  I created a profession from this. I studied climate change, climate finance, international development, urbanization and infrastructure design. I have moved from Caracas, Venezuela and settled in Washington, D.C. to pursue my work with UEF and as a consultant to the World Bank.

What has been your biggest career challenge?

Walking the talk! In other words, one can learn a lot about sustainability but it’s challenging to incorporate sustainable living in my own lifestyle as well as promote it in my work across North and South America. To promote sustainability in a conflict area such as Venezuela is difficult because, for example, the country currently cannot produce local materials necessary to achieve sustainable infrastructure. We have to get creative and devise alternative infrastructure retrofits that are more appropriate within the economic context in Venezuela.

What has been your proudest career moment?

Creating Urban Elements Foundation. By creating this organization, I have applied what I learned at Harvard University and London School of Economics into a practice. Our board comes from five different countries with different ideologies, life styles, personal agendas and interests. We’ve come together to enable change. I work half of the year at international organizations and the rest at very local scale, driving change through entrepreneurship. I created this organization to promote life-cycle systems that support sustainable design in ways that surpass best practice.

Envision Experience

How did you learn about Envision?

I first learned about Envision while I was a Research Assistant for the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Through this work, we guided the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) in sustainable engineering, construction, and processes to support the private and public-private sectors of Latin America.

Part of this work was evaluating infrastructure projects in Latin America. To enhance my understanding of the Envision framework as it applied to these projects, I earned my ENV SP Credential.

How are you using Envision?

At the Urban Elements Foundation, and in the work I do for the World Bank, I always refer to the Envision framework to teach others about developing sustainable projects.

Through my work at UEF, I am developing a set of infrastructure slum upgrade projects in Caracas, Venezuela. I am using the Envision framework to create a sustainable project. My team and I are currently proposing a set of projects for water treatment and energy generation that are grounded in the principles and tenets of the Envision framework.

In 2017-2018, I worked for the World Bank on a regional project in West Africa. I shared the Envision framework with the engineers and developers on the project. I was hoping to integrate the Envision guidelines into a regional coastal resiliency project. My role in this project was to consult for the 20-person team using my skills as an ENV SP. I shared the Envision framework in an effort to incorporate a mindset of sustainability in each of the six countries’ approaches in investing in the regional project.

Throughout my work, I hope to leverage enough interest in Envision to transform projects beyond compliance with established environmental and social safeguards to integrating the Envision framework. In order to achieve this goal, I provide the guidance needed to initiate systemic change in the planning, design, and delivery of sustainable and resilient infrastructure projects. I wholeheartedly believe that Envision is a decision-making guide. It is not prescriptive, and this is exactly the type of mentality we want decision-makers to use in order to develop resilient spaces, designs, and construction.

Can you share some highlights from an Envision project?

When I was with the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, I worked with two other ENV SPs to evaluate sustainable infrastructure projects. We evaluated projects from companies that plan sustainable infrastructure, including: Enel Green Power’s Dominica Wind Farms (Mexico); Seven Seas Water Company’s Point Fortin Seawater’s Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility (Trinidad & Tobago); Carilafquén/Malalcahuello Hydroelectric Plant (Chile); Akuo Energy company’s Florida Wind Farm (Uruguay).

The engineering process was evaluated for each project. We examined the documentation provided by the engineers and project managers to measure how sustainable each project had been. We defined the evaluation through a weighted system to quantify the results per Envision categories. The Inter-American Development Bank then measured the results of our evaluations against a set of 12 projects categorized by sustainable results. This process helped incentivize the private companies to become better at building sustainable projects. The process included a two-year capacity building exercise. Capacity building was performed between the ENV SP in the team and the project manager representative of each company. The engineers, project managers, and many other team members learned how to shift their thinking from performing a sustainable project to surpassing sustainable best practices.

Fun Facts

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?

I love horseback riding to feel the speed and freedom from urban life. I also play soccer at an advanced level, and I absolutely love Lab dogs.

I want to build my home as a fully functional net zero home with net zero waste, water and energy, as well as off grid. I would love to add to this a sustainable garden from my seasonal fruits and veggies and a beautiful fountain.

Web Tutorials Available

Need help mastering the ISI website? Check out our illustrated web-tutorials for detailed instruction on how to create an account, create a project and conduct a self-assessment, become an Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) or maintain your ENV SP credential.

Web Tutorial: Create a New ISI Account

Web Tutorial: Become an ENV SP

Web Tutorial: ENV SP Credential Maintenance

Web Tutorial: Creating a Project

Web Tutorial: Using the Envision Online Scoresheet to Self-Assess Your Project

Web Tutorial (for Organizational Membership Account Administrators Only): Admin Features

 

ENV SP Credential Maintenance Success

Since the launch of the Envision Sustainability Professional (ENV SP) Credential Maintenance program, 60% of our ENV SPs have successfully enrolled. We’re happy to keep you on board and are working on building new program content that is meaningful for you.

New course highlight! As a part of your credential maintenance, you can access new courses that will help you succeed. Check out our latest offering: Beyond the Basics: Envision Verification. This course gives you an inside look at project verification and equips you with the skills you need to submit streamlined projects for review. It is available in your ISI account today!

If you have not enrolled in credential maintenance – there is still time! You are currently in the 6-month grace period during which you may renew your credential.  While you will be able to pay your renewal fee at any time during this window, your credential maintenance reporting period will remain the same.

If you do not renew your credential within your grace period, your ENV SP will expire. To regain a credential after expiration, you must register, train and retest as a new ENV SP candidate.  You will be responsible for all applicable fees.

Click on the links below for more information on how to maintain your ENV SP credential, review the Credential Maintenance Guidance Document and to access a new web tutorial on credential maintenance.

ENV SP Credential Maintenance Guidance Document

Web Tutorial: ENV SP Credential Maintenance

ENV SP Spotlight: Julie Koehler

Julie Koehler is a Professional Engineer in the state of Colorado with a Master’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Master’s in Development Management from The American University.

Julie hit her 5-year mark with the City of Westminster in January 2019, was recently promoted to Utilities Engineering Manager and previously worked as a Senior Engineer in the Utilities Engineering Division.

Prior to joining the City, she spent 13 years as a Senior Associate for a private engineering firm in Denver designing several municipal engineering projects.

Julie also spent time working with the US Agency for International Development in Washington DC as well as the Peace Corps and the Agency for International Development in Africa, where she worked on urban environmental issues such as solid waste, gray water, and erosion control.

ISI staff had the chance to connect with Julie, and she provided the following insights from her career:

Professional Experience

What drew you to your field of work?
In a previous life I managed Peace Corps’ Urban Environmental Management project in the Ivory Coast, West Africa.  30 Peace Corps Volunteers served in 15 secondary towns to assist and improve solid waste management, latrine construction, and increase knowledge of health issues related to ineffective management of solid waste, human waste, and related urban environment issues.  I appreciated the engineering perspective which was science driven, mathematical, and results oriented.

What has been your biggest career challenge?
I made a career change from International Development to Engineering in my 30s.  Accepting the challenge to take all the math and science required for an engineering degree with a background in social studies and foreign language was, and is, a big deal!

What has been your proudest career moment?
Successfully obtaining my PE.

Envision Experience

How did you learn about Envision?
Dewberry, my former employer, is a charter member of ISI and encouraged staff to pursue and obtain the credential to improve sustainability of horizontal infrastructure. I decided to pursue my credential because most of my project work involved chemical feed and storage systems and potable water pumping systems designs.  Having a tool and metric against which municipal infrastructure could be evaluated attracted me to Envision.

How is the City of Westminster using Envision?
The City of Westminster is using Envision in three ways:

  • The City has over 20 credentialed ENV SPs. We  provided training to introduce an alternative way of thinking about sustainability and Capital Improvements Projects (CIP).
  • With the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer, we interviewed 16 Project Managers from different departments within the City about their work. The intent was to explore how the Envision rating tool meshed with their 2019/20 CIPs, and to determine what role the Envision tool could play in future CIPs.  The discussions helped to increase the understanding of Envision’s applicability to a wide range of projects. Ultimately, the outcome of the discussions will inform the recommendation to the City Manager about the formal use of the Envision tool in the City.
  • Public Works and Utilities committed to seeking 3rd party Envision verification on a large CIP at our Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. The project is now under construction.  Following construction, the project team will submit the documentation to support what the City hopes will be a bronze rating.

Can you share some highlights from an Envision project?
The series of 16 meetings with City Project Managers to discuss the Envision tool was eye-opening for me, in a good way. Many City projects and PMs use Envision principles and are supported in thinking about sustainability even if they had not previously heard of Envision. Conversations about if, how, and when to use the tool across a wide range of projects suggests that the tool is a relevant metric in our municipal project context.  Our next steps include presenting overall results to City PMs, developing a recommendation for City Management, and possibly creating City policy based on using the Envision tool for City CIPs.

Fun Facts

What are some of your favorite hobbies and interests?
I like riding my bike to work in the summer, quilting, reading, and spending time with my family.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I completed the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in the mid 90s and placed 39th in my age group.

Airports’ Increasing Interest in Envision

(Image Caption: Nashville International Airport Water Source Geothermal System)

By Carly Shannon, ENV SP, LEED AP BD+C, C&S Companies

On June 15, 2017, nearly 70 airport representatives, consultants, and partners participated in an Envision & Airports webinar hosted by the Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) Sustainability Working Group. Organized by the group’s leadership, Brendan Reed of San Diego International Airport and Danielle Bower of Philadelphia International Airport, this was the second of two webinars focused specifically on Envision and its use in the aviation industry. The first provided a general overview, while the more recent event dug into actual application of the rating system to airport projects. Speakers included representatives from Nashville International, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, and Portland International airports. Sharing benefits, lessons learned, and key takeaways from their personal experiences, the speakers will help inform other airports as they move toward more sustainable infrastructure.

The variety of projects—a runway reconstruction, water source geothermal system, and a quick-turnaround rental car facility—demonstrate not only the wide-ranging applicability of Envision, but also its flexibility. Each of these diverse projects benefitted from the rating system through cost savings, stakeholder inclusion, reduced environmental impacts, and improvements to the design process. Although there is a learning curve associated with any new guidance or tool, each airport is looking forward to integrating Envision into future efforts.

The level of engagement during the June webinar and the speakers’ positive takeaways made one thing clear—Envision is gaining traction in the airport world.

(Water Source Geothermal at the Nashville International Airport Received Envision Silver Award )