Zofnass = Sustainable Infrastructure? And Other Observations

Zofnass… I confess I had not heard of it, but then again some times you learn a thing or two from a conference. Recently, I came off of a tour of local and national conferences that took me from coast to coast and then to the heartland. Exhausting as that was, I came back with a renewed sense of purpose and several movements I thought I might share. Boston, MA – Zofnass-ing… In late April, I attended the Infrastructure Sustainability & Design Conference hosted by Zofnass Program for Infrastructure Sustainability at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. The event centered on the Zofnass Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System. I confess the program was new to me, but I came away seeing the potential this rating system can have on large infrastructure projects.

At SvR, we approach projects by planning, designing, and recommending life-time solutions centered around green infrastructure components: mobility, water, community, habitat, energy, and geologic. Zofnass strikes me best as a system focused on large-scale developments. The rating system assesses the sustainability of a project over its entire life-cycle, from the need phase to rehabilitation, even decommissioning – cradle to grave. The system endeavors to quantify a project’s sustainability against national standards, local context, and benchmark projects. The program is seeking input and I encourage you to contact Brian Kenet at to learn how you can contribute.

Branson, MO – Regenerating Streets Cole and Associates of St. Louis, Missouri asked Civitas, Alta Planning and Design, and SvR Design Company to come and speak at the American Public Works Association – Missouri State Chapter spring conference; the topic – Regenerating the City Street. This remains a timely and important American topic (see our last blog post). Most American streets belong to cars – not communities. Think – where is a city’s identity, its first impression, a synthesis of their priorities reflected? Streets. Based on the conversation following our presentation, public works directors and city engineers in Missouri municipalities are seeing how critical their streets are. You can download our presentation on our resources page.

San Francisco, CA – Cost/Benefit Calculator City officials, consulting engineers, and professors from around the world (Korea to United Kingdom) gathered in San Francisco in mid-April for the American Society of Civil Engineers 2010 International Low Impact Development Conference. SvR was honored to give two presentations (see our resources page for the presentations). Aside from our presentations, one presentation stood out. The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) out of Chicago presented their efforts to develop a cost/benefits calculator for green infrastructure systems. Our industry lacks cost/benefits data, which would be valuable to present to clients considering these systems. The calculator is getting off the ground but needs data. Again, I encourage you to contact CNT to learn how you can contribute data.

Final Observation… Coming back from these conferences, I was refreshed by the aggregate passion for a healthy society. I am also struck by the reality – on a global level – for a necessary seawind of change to preserve our planet and reclaim infrastructure for the benefit and use of our communities. The grassroots movement exists. What is our movement’s next step? How can we catalyze change that remains?

One word: Policy.