Infrastructure professionals gained new insights into the use and implementation of Envision to develop more sustainable projects at ISI’s second Zofnass Research Program Workshop, hosted by NV5 in New York City on May 16 and 17. ISI staff and guest speakers presented Envision experiences and case studies, best practices for planning and implementation of the framework, and research data on the costs and benefits of pursuing verification. A tour of local Envision project sites provided attendees with further opportunities for learning and engagement.

What is the Zofnass Research Program?

The Zofnass Research Program was founded in 2008 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design through a generous donation by the Zofnass family. Originally the “Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure,” its purpose was to develop and promote methods, processes, and tools that quantify sustainability for infrastructure. The Envision sustainable infrastructure framework was established through a collaboration between the program and ISI. In 2022, the program moved from Harvard to ISI where it continues to conduct research exploring sustainable infrastructure topics to facilitate the adoption of more sustainable solutions for infrastructure projects.

Thank you to our host, NV5

A special thanks goes to NV5 for hosting and helping to plan this Zofnass Research Program Workshop. Operating out of more than 100 offices nationwide and abroad, NV5 works with both public and private sector clients to support sustainable infrastructure, utility, and building assets and systems. As a global leader in the movement toward more sustainable infrastructure, NV5 has been on the Zofnass Research Program’s Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory Board (SIAB) since its inception over a decade ago.

The SIAB is a collaboration of leaders involved in the planning, designing, and engineering of infrastructure projects who provide guidance and insight on how best to develop, measure, and improve sustainability in the infrastructure industry. It has sponsored and supported the research that has been integral to the development, promotion, and continued improvement of the Envision framework.

Participants visit the Envision-verified Starlight Park project in the Bronx.

We are grateful for NV5’s long-term support, advocacy of Envision, and commitment to sustainable infrastructure. NV5’s Dickerson Wright (CEO), Linda Reardon (SVP), and Kathy Collins (Director of Sustainability) have been dedicated and active members of the SIAB, sharing their expertise and guidance to help shift the infrastructure industry toward greater sustainability. We are also indebted to NV5’s Matthew Nayer and Ashley Metius for acting as our local NYC and Zofnass Research Program Workshop hosts throughout this event. They spent countless hours with ISI’s Senior Research Associate, Judith Rodriguez, to plan the workshop program, organize and lead the site visits, and generally guide the course of events. The Zofnass Research Program Workshop would not have been possible without their enthusiastic and engaged support!

Workshop Day 1

Day 1 of the Zofnass Research Program Workshop was held in NV5’s New York City office building in Lower Manhattan where nearly 50 participants heard from a variety of Envision users regarding their experiences with implementing the Envision framework.

Panelists share their perspectives on implementing Envision.

In the morning, NYC’s leading agencies shared about their challenges and triumphs associated with sustainable practices, as well as helpful tips and lessons they’ve learned along the way. Presenters included representation from the NYC Department of Design and Construction (NYC DDC), Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ), New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks), and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC). Individual presentations were followed by an interactive panel discussion with the featured speakers and workshop participants.

ISI’s President and CEO, Anthony Kane, presents preliminary research findings on the costs and benefits of using Envision.

In the afternoon, ISI’s President and CEO, Anthony Kane, shared preliminary findings of an ongoing research survey that explores the reported costs and benefits of implementing Envision. Uncertainty about the cost of sustainability efforts and of third-party verification is known to be a significant barrier for project sponsors, and this research survey – completed only by project teams directly involved in Envision-verified projects – is helping to shed light on the time, effort, costs, and benefits associated with Envision verification. This session was followed by project team presentations and discussions focused on Envision case studies around New York City, which prepared participants for Day 2.

Workshop Day 2

On Day 2 of the Zofnass Research Program Workshop, participants took a field trip around New York City to visit the projects highlighted by Day 1’s case study presentations. Field trip participants spent the day traveling from Lower Manhattan to Times Square, and then on to Queens and the Bronx, to get a first-hand perspective on several of New York City’s Envision projects. They heard directly from project teams, and in some cases community members, about the challenges and successes of each project, and ultimately their economic, environmental, and social benefits.

Participants learn about the Times Square Shuttle project in New York City.

Project visits included:

  • Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency – Battery: Rebuilding and elevation of the wharf promenade in The Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan. Owned by NYCEDC on behalf of NYC Parks, with site visit led by Stantec & Hunter Roberts Construction Group.
  • East Side Coastal Resiliency: Coastal protection initiative that will reduce flood risk due to storm surges and sea level rise on Manhattan’s East Side. Owned by NYC DDC, with site visit led by HNTB.
  • Times Square Shuttle: Connecting two of NYC’s most iconic subway stations, Times Square Station and Grand Central Station, to provide more functional transportation between the east side of Manhattan and mid-town. Owned by MTA, with site visit led by MTA.
  • Broad Channel Phase II: Raising streets and adding new storm sewers to bring flood resiliency to a flood-prone area of Queens. Owned by NYC DDC, with site visit led by NV5.
  • Starlight Park Phase II: New park links up communities and closes gap in the Bronx River Greenway. Owned by NYC DDC and NYC Parks, with site visit led by NV5.

Click here for a look at the full program and speaker list. Select recordings from the workshop are now available through ISI user accounts on the education dashboard.

Future Workshops

The Zofnass Research Program Workshops provide a valuable opportunity for infrastructure professionals dedicated to sustainability to gather in person for learning and networking. They allow ISI to directly engage with member organizations and committed users of Envision while presenting the latest research findings and trends in sustainable infrastructure. These in-person events also offer participants a closer look at exemplary Envision-verified projects – beyond case study presentations and webinars – through project site visits at the host location. As an added bonus, ENV SPs can also earn their credential maintenance hours by attending.

Participants tour the Envision-verified Starlight Park project in the Bronx.

Building on the success and momentum of this event, ISI’s Zofnass Research Program is looking forward to hosting two workshops each year. These events will engage insightful discussions with experienced Envision users on the latest research and trends in sustainable infrastructure, while offering a more in-depth analysis of select Envision-verified projects. For those interested in sponsoring research and hosting future workshops, please email ISI’s Senior Research Associate, Judith Rodriguez, at