Why Measure Sustainability?
Measuring sustainability can help with tracking and assessing progress, encouraging broad participation by stakeholders, evaluating sustainability tradeoffs, meeting or anticipating new requirements, finding programmatic barriers, rewarding excellence and communicating benefits and goals.
Track and Assess Progress
Measuring sustainability allows organizations to track and assess progress resulting from their sustainability efforts and investments. INVEST establishes standard and qualitative measures for sustainability that will enable agencies, organizations, program managers, and project managers to set sustainability goals, track progress, and apply management strategies. INVEST also allows agencies to obtain a “snapshot in time” of their sustainability efforts which allows agencies to not only track and assess progress, but manage their progress toward sustainability goals.
Encourage Broad Participation of Stakeholders
Measuring sustainability encourages broad participation of stakeholders in establishing sustainability goals for an agency’s, programs, and projects. An agency might set goals to meet specific criteria or achieve a Gold Level project self-evaluation. Using INVEST to measure these goals provides a valuable tool to communicate goals with stakeholders and to communicate progress over time.
Evaluate Sustainability Trade-offs
INVEST encourages increased application of the principles of sustainability by presenting best practices and establishing standard and qualitative measures for sustainability. Every highway project involves tradeoffs and decisions often become more difficult when two or more options are not directly comparable. INVEST can help with these decisions, as criteria are assigned points based on their sustainability impact. Further, INVEST includes criteria that help evaluate sustainability tradeoffs between differing solutions. For example, leveraging PD-1: Economic Analysis to evaluate paving options facilitates selection of the option that is most economically efficient over time.
Meet or Anticipate New Requirements
Many of the criteria included in this system include meeting requirements that are above and beyond the normal standard of practice. As such, familiarity with the tool can assist owners, stakeholders, and project teams to understand new technologies and best practices in sustainability and help them anticipate new, related requirements that may emerge. For example, familiarity with PD-4: Highway and Traffic Safety would prepare the user for potential programmatic changes that may emerge in their agency or stakeholder agencies.
Find and Address Programmatic Barriers
Measuring sustainability on a program, project, or group of projects can facilitate the owning agency in identifying programmatic barriers that they are encountering so they can be addressed and removed. These barriers might be the result of policies, design standards and specifications, or stakeholder agency policies.
For example, an agency might review a handful of projects and find that none of their projects met PD-23: Reduced Energy and Emissions in Pavement Materials criterion by using Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA). The barrier in this case could be that a special provision and headquarters approval is required for each project and is cumbersome to obtain. The agency may address this by rewriting their standard specifications to allow the use of WMA.
Communicate Benefits and Goals
Measuring sustainability and reporting results enables owner organizations to communicate sustainability goals and benefits to stakeholders. Measuring sustainability is also a good tool for influencing public opinions and raising awareness of sustainability.