A Personal Journey into SustainabilityA few days ago I was asked to speak at a local APWA luncheon on the topic of Envision. I usually do pretty technical talks but on this occasion I thought I'd try something different and make it a little more personal by describing my own journey into sustainability as a lead-in to giving an update on Envision itself. The Prezi below shows the gist of the talk - so go ahead and click through it - but without my narrative it's not really informative, so I thought I'd add some notes below that map out my journey!
LoughboroughI did my bachelor's degree at Loughborough University of Technology (if you need help pronouncing it click here: Loughborough !). At the time I was an idealist who wanted to change the world to make it a better place. I decided to do chemical engineering because I was good at maths, chemistry and physics, but I selected a degree with the long title of "Chemical Engineering with Environmental Protection" because I thought I would be able to somehow stop all those nasty chemical factories from hurting the environment! As it happened, I ended up doing a year's internship with Severn Trent Water running pilot poop plants for their R&D group and so my glorious love for poop plants and wastewater engineering began!
Western AustraliaFast forward 15 years and I was by then working for Black & Veatch, based in our Kansas City office. (Actually we were stuck in the basement of our Overland Park HQ at the time, but that's another story!) Then I got the opportunity to move to Perth, Western Australia for 18 months working on their 3 largest wastewater treatment plants. It was an excellent experience all round but in particular I got to experience 3 things: wonderful espresso coffee (I know! who'd have thought?), awesome food (but generally crappy service!), and... sustainability. The last one was taught to me by Susanne Cooper, who is a senior manager for Sustainability at SKM, the firm we teamed with on the program in Perth. She has such a passion for sustainability that it's infectious and it really resonated with me. I'm still very thankful for the way she opened my eyes and passed on that passion to me.
Back in the USA
- It's a real "standard" endorsed by three major national organizations: APWA, ASCE and ACEC.
- If everyone uses the same approach it facilitates clarity in communication. Some requests for proposals (RFP) that I've seen for infrastructure projects have been vague on their requirements for sustainability or prescribe you use their specific approach which others may not know. Picking a standard tool like Envision makes it easier to specify and respond to sustainability requirements in proposals.
- It's open and transparent. The guidelines are well written and honest. There's also a genuine openness at ISI for feedback to make this a system that will work. The ultimate goal of ISI is truly to drive sustainability into our designs. I give credit for this to Bill Bertera, who's doing an excellent job guiding ISI.
- Its web-based, so it's easy to access
- The tools are user-friendly
- And finally, for all Apple product users... it's cool (or great!) So use it!
So, at the end of my presentation I can honestly say that 20 years on the idealistic young engineer from Loughborough University who wanted to change the world is more optimistic than ever that maybe we can change the world for the better and Envision is a great tool to help us do that. Will you do the same?