This blog has discussed standards in infrastructure planning and design. Impact Infrastructure (ii) has been working with several groups such to help create standards for business case analysis. These groups include: The Zofnass Program for Sustainability at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure and its Economics Committee; The West Coast Infrastructure Exchange (WCX); CERES, and several of planning, architecture, and engineering companies. One of those groups, the WCX has recently finalized some standards that are worth a read.
John Williams, our CEO, is a member of the WCX Business Standards Committee. WCX’s goal is accelerating infrastructure development to promote near-term job growth and long-term competitiveness. The standards committee was established to develop a set of best practices, a framework, and set of principles that infrastructure projects should follow to achieve success. A couple of days ago they announced:
“West Coast Infrastructure Exchange released the final version of “Infrastructure Project Certification –Principles and Framework” which was developed by the WCX Standards Committee. The effort to develop these standards was initiated in 2013 based on feedback from the market that the lack of standards and consistency was a problem that was inhibiting the growth of the US market for “investable infrastructure.” …
The principles and project standards are the first-ever attempt by multiple US states to jointly define the types of public infrastructure projects that would be most suitable for engaging private capital and to lay out a framework for how best to structure such investments to maximize public benefits while addressing the needs of investors. Based on experience in other jurisdictions with extensive experience with private investment in public infrastructure, the standards highlight the importance of such factors as transparency, high quality analysis, political support, competitive bidding, community labor standards, appropriate risk allocation, and efficient processes.” (WCX Newsletter Infrastructure Innovation Update – January 2014)
A couple of the recommendations stuck a chord with me and fit nicely with multiple account cost benefit analysis, risk analysis (the Sustainable Return on Investment or SROI Process) and stress testing that ii is pursuing (my emphasis is added to these quotes):
- Clarifying and underscoring the need for projects to be structured so as to maximize its public benefits as the key goal of governments in the process. “Balancing” risk and rewards to each party is important, but government’s goal should be to get the best possible value for taxpayers at the lowest cost that allows a return that is acceptable to investors.
- Broadening the definition of resilience beyond climate change to capture seismic and other risks was suggested and has been incorporated.
- Sustainability: Projects should establish consistent application and evaluation of
sustainability, including life cycle risks/benefits and costs e.g. climate and other environmental risk, operating costs etc., into the procurement and long term monitoring and
reporting of performance of infrastructure assets.
Finally there were a couple of recommendations that we will be writing more about in future integration and the role we think that Building Information Management or BIM can play:
- Transparency: Operating, financial, and governance information about infrastructure projects should be readily transparent to permit accurate public understanding and market comparison.
- Systems Integration: Infrastructure project planning, design and delivery should consider the systems they will impact and be designed to address broader problems versus fixing individual components that do not collectively solve the underlying problem(s).