Economic factors are an essential component of sustainable infrastructure, along with environmental and social considerations. The business case for sustainable infrastructure goes beyond a return on investment: it also includes infrastructure effectiveness, costs, reliability, and livability. These factors contribute to how communities perceive these infrastructure projects which in turn has a real dollar value associated with it.
There are several economic tools that are being developed in parallel in different agencies, companies, and research organizations that fill the unique needs of different infrastructure sectors and geographic locations. ISI encourages the development of these tools and will continue to provide an opportunity for public feedback to strengthen the metrics and tools that will be made publically available.
ISI Charter Members created the following economic tools that relate to the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system. Please note that ISI does not have its own economics tool, nor does it endorse any — it is up for the user to determine which economic metrics are appropriate for their project.
Business Case Evaluator (available in the public domain)
Impact Infrastructure, LLC. Business Case Evaluator for Stormwater
The tool presented here, called the Business Case Evaluator, is from Impact Infrastructure, LLC, Charter Member of ISI. The first module of the Business Case Evaluator provides a value-based and risk-adjusted analysis of stormwater infrastructure projects and maps these to Envision credits. Impact Infrastructure, LLC, has made the BCE available at no-cost to Envision users.
PRISM™ — A Triple Bottom Line Decision Tool
PRISM™ is a comprehensive project / program evaluation tool developed by Parsons Brinckerhoff, ISI Charter Member. PRISM™ has been used extensively on a full range of transportation projects for evaluating TBL factors as reflected in Envision® using risk based dollar equivalents. Its economic analysis capabilities include cost benefit, and wider economic impacts resulting from improved regional accessibility.
Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI)
HDR's Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) is a proven framework that has been used by public and private clients to measure the triple bottom line impacts of a project. SROI determines the full value of a project through a robust economic-based approach to estimating all relevant costs and benefits and develops tangible indicators to communicate the full value of the investment that are in line with Envision credits. Results of SROI process provide a credible assessment of the business case for sustainability-oriented investments that achieve higher recognition levels in Envision.
Zofnass Economic Process Tool (available in the public domain)
Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
The Zofnass Economic Process Tool is a platform that offers a fast and easy way to achieve preliminary quantification of sustainability externalities in infrastructure projects based on the Envision® rating system.