Instituting sustainability into transportation processes is an area of interest of many State DOTs, municipal transportation departments and the Federal Highway Administration. Many State DOT engineering managers claim to endorse sustainability without really understanding the sustainability concept, how to successfully integrate it into their transportation processes or even fully endorsing the concept. To really develop and implement a cost effective transportation sustainability program, sustainable design elements must be identified early in the design scoping phase of the project (with management support) as opposed to later in the design process where sustainable design elements are simply considered an afterthought.
TerraLogic is supporting the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in taking a proactive approach toward integrating sustainability elements into their transportation design practices. CDOT is currently “test driving” the New York State Department of Transportation’s GreenLITES (Leadership In Transportation and Environmental Sustainability) process, which is an internal sustainability rating and certification process for transportation designs. CDOT is using this model on two Interstate 70 interchange design projects to determine how well the GreenLITES sustainability process can be integrated into CDOT transportation projects state-wide.
TerraLogic, in teaming cooperation with PBS&J, is working with the CDOT Environmental Programs Branch and Region 3 (Eagle Residency) for this GreenLITES Project. The Edwards-Interstate 70 Interchange, located west of Vail, Colorado, is being used as a baseline condition, where the design did not contain any preconceived sustainability actions developed by the Project Design Team. The test project is the Eagle-Interstate 70 Interchange. Both of these interchange projects are very similar in design scope, size and environmental sensitivity.
TerraLogic is currently facilitating and coordinating the GreenLITES meetings for CDOT. The NYDOT GreenLITES evaluation checklist was initially modified to eliminate requirements unique to the NYDOT (www.nysdot.gov/programs).
The CDOT/NYDOT GreenLITES evaluation and scoring centers on five GreenLITES certification categories: 1) sustainable sites, 2) water quality, 3) materials and resources, 4) energy and atmosphere, and 5) innovation
The Edwards Interchange Project (baseline) scoring was performed by the CDOT Design Team using the final design plans developed in 2009. The Eagle-Interstate 70 Project will be scored three times by the Project Design Team during the initial project scoping, interim 60% design and final design phases of the Project.
The CDOT GreenLITES Project was initiated in April 2010 and is expected to be completed in November, 2010. The following are some TerraLogic’s comments regarding integrating the GreenLITES process into a DOT design process:
- There needs to be a main DOT management champion to ensure the program is developed, implemented and maintained; it is essential that the DOT Chief Engineer and Director endorse and actively support the program.
- The Project Manager needs to be the driving force behind the GreenLITES coordination, scoring and design integration at the Project level.
- The GreenLITES Sustainability Criteria needs to be modified to address individual State DOT programs, environment and community context.
- Scoring team members need to review and pre-score the scoring criteria sheets before meetings and be prepared to discuss critical items; this action will help reduce the scoring meeting time.
- The Project Design Team needs to include the Environmental Manager or representative for their input and insight into permitting and environmental protection.
- There needs to be specific State DOT definitions of the checklist criteria for consistent evaluation and understanding.
- Scoring criteria should include other sustainability elements such as electrical energy conservation, petroleum conservation, and water reduction requirements.
TerraLogic gave the Transportation Research Board (Raleigh, North Carolina- June 7, 2010) a presentation on the CDOT GreenLITES Project. For further information, go to the Resource section to review the presentation.