“New Version of Rating System Announced!” Scary words for some. There is often fear about the new requirements, a mad dash to complete as many projects as possible under the current version, and questions about the added value. C&S had the opportunity to dive into Envision Version 3 (v3) in its very early stages, as we incorporated the guidance into a sustainability toolkit for the County of Sacramento Department of Airports. Having applied the previous version on a number of projects and after reviewing the draft v3 Guidance Manual, we anxiously awaited the release of the v3 Guidance Manual to develop the toolkit. What did we notice, beyond the obvious structural and procedural changes?
- Greater Clarity on “What it Takes” – The rating system encourages project teams to go beyond conventional design, advancing to higher levels of sustainability (termed “Levels of Achievement”), with additional points associated with each level. Envision is undeniably flexible, which is a major advantage compared to other rating systems, but this flexibility has led to challenges in determining “what it takes” to qualify for each level. The new version maintains crucial flexibility while providing additional guidance to help teams rate and enhance their projects.
- More Accountability – Like most rating systems, new versions typically require a greater level of accountability to ensure follow-through to commitments. Envision v3 is no different. Project teams were previously able to achieve awards at the 95% design stage. There is still an option to do so under v3, but a post-construction follow-up review is now required to maintain the award. The additional accountability is a crucial step as we strive for improved overall performance, not just improved design.
- Expanded Emphasis of Resilience – Working with airports, we have always appreciated Envision’s emphasis on resilience and adaptation. The new version goes even further to integrate these priorities across the different credits, and makes enhancements to the specific Climate & Resilience category.
- Embracing the Full Life Cycle of a Project – Under v2, certain credits focused exclusively on a particular stage of a project, e.g., waste diversion during operation. V3 makes both procedural changes (related to the process for verification) and credit revisions/additions that better encompass the important decision-making that can impact all stages of a project. For example, there are now separate construction and operation credits for the reduction of waste, water, and energy.
In essence, all of the great things about Envision remain – but its value to the long-term resiliency of our projects and communities has increased.
Carly Shannon, LEED AP BD+C, ENV SP
Managing Planner, Sustainability Leader