Creating Sustainable Communities: How Can Engineers Help? (Part II)

February 13, 2015
Casey Dinges interviews Harriet Tregoning (HUD), Joel Beauvais (EPA) and Carlos Monje (DOT), members of the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Looking 50 years into the future, what will sustainable infrastructure look like?  “It looks different in a number of important ways. It does a lot for its communities,” explained Harriet Tregoning, director of economic resilience at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  It’s clear that the impact of climate change means many more stresses on our infrastructure.

To prepare for that world of tomorrow, the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities was formed. In the second part of the interview on Sustainable Communities in the ASCE Interchange video series, Casey Dinges sat down with Harriet, Carlos Monje, counselor to Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox, and Joel Beauvais, associate administrator for policy at the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss their coordinated efforts and how engineers can contribute to creating more sustainable communities.

Civil engineers now have a way to measure the sustainability of infrastructure projects with Envision™,  the sustainable infrastructure rating system created by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure which was co-founded by ASCE.  It provides metrics that are important to decision makers and helps them decide does “this infrastructure make sense, not only in terms of cost effectiveness, but that it’s also supporting local economic resiliency and self-sufficiency,” noted Beauvais.  These kind of standards help provide political cover for legislators as well.

The panel concluded that the innovation, creativity, ingenuity and problem solving skills of civil engineers are definitely needed to help have a wider impact on our nation’s future. Creating sustainable infrastructure may be the greatest challenge younger engineers can champion.  Tregoning added, “It’s their moon shot. These are a tremendous set of challenges that need to be solved for our country to thrive in the future.”

What projects supported by the interagency partnership have you seen in your community?  Were they successful and why?

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