Posts

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.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT

 

 

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]

 

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.

We’re Hiring!

The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure is seeking an intermediate- to senior-level Project Reviewer to play a crucial role in the ongoing growth and development of the Envision verification and awards program. For additional details, including information on how to apply, please visit our careers page.