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.

Fairfax County’s Huntington Levee Earns Envision Bronze

The Huntington Levee project in Fairfax County, Virginia is the recent recipient of the Envision Bronze award for sustainable infrastructure.

The Huntington Levee project consists of two main elements: a levee that runs parallel to Cameron Run that consists of an earthen embankment and a series of steel-reinforced concrete panels formed in the shape of an I, known as an I-wall, as well as a two-stage pumping station located at the east end of the levee. The levee itself is 2,800 feet long, beginning west of Fenwick Drive and running eastward. The earthen embankment portion of the levee is between 6 and 11 feet high, with a 4-foot high I-wall situated on the top. The top of the levee is 13 feet wide and includes an 8-foot wide asphalt recreational trail. The project also includes a collection drain system to control ground water seepage, new storm drains to connect the existing storm drains to the pumping station, and concrete channels and a vegetated swale to divert stormwater collected behind the levee to the pumping station. The whole system has been designed to protect the community from extreme 100-year flooding events—floods that have a one per cent chance of occurring in any given year.

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services delivered this award-winning sustainable project in close collaboration with lead engineer Arcadis U.S., Inc., whose team included Michael Baker International and William H. Gordon, Inc.  Regulatory partners included FEMA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Archer Western was the construction contractor.

“This project is vital to ensuring the safety of the Huntington community from risks associated with flooding. Hundreds of people in the area can rest assured they are better protected as a result of this project,” said Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s Acting Managing Director. “ISI is pleased to award this project with Envision Bronze for sustainable infrastructure.”




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

ISI Presents Envision to the United Nations in Geneva

Melissa Peneycad Invited to Address UN Economic Commission for Europe


On Monday, March 25, 2019 Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s Acting Managing Director, addressed the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva, Switzerland.  She was one of a small group of world-leading experts who were invited to discuss innovation, public-private partnerships (PPP), and project assessment tools to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

While Envision has been gaining a strong foothold in the United States and Canada, many nations have not yet heard of ISI and its Envision sustainable infrastructure framework, or the organization’s success in verifying sustainable infrastructure projects.

Peneycad’s presentation on ISI, Envision, and its application to evaluate PPPs and other project types against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) was warmly welcomed by a collective of representatives from UN organizations including the UN Industrial Development Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, delegates representing several UN member states, and many non-governmental organizations.  She underscored the relevant aims of Envision and the verification process and emphasized the aspects of Envision that specifically address the UN SDGs, including equity and social justice, economic effectiveness, stakeholder engagement, reducing carbon emissions, and training and job creation.

Envision’s impact also caught the attention of attendees.  Since 2013, Envision has been used to evaluate the sustainable performance of more than 70 infrastructure projects, collectively worth more than $19.5 billion, with another $31 billion of infrastructure development registered for Envision review. Recognizing the collective effort behind Envision, Peneycad hailed ISI’s founding organizations and partners, and the almost 8,000 Envision Sustainability Professionals trained in the use of Envision as an infrastructure planning and design tool. She also gave specific recognition to the numerous public-sector departments, agencies, and municipalities across the United States and Canada that are formally adopting the Envision framework for their infrastructure developments.

“This was a real honor,” said Peneycad whose presentation resulted in requests from the leadership of UNECE’s Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Public-Private Partnerships for further dialogue on the application of Envision around the world. “ISI is grateful to the Secretariat for the invitation to participate in this meaningful pursuit.  This meeting was just the beginning and I sense an exciting future for sustainable infrastructure and Envision.”


UNECE Chief of Partnerships and Cooperation, Geoffrey Hamilton, extends his acknowledgments to ISI’s Melissa Peneycad after her presentation at the United Nations in Geneva on Monday, March 25. [Photo submitted by MDR Public Affairs]

Melissa Peneycad at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. [Photo submitted by MDR Public Affairs]