Three years in the making, the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC-IL) have unfurled I-LAST: the Illinois-Livable and Sustainable Transportation rating system. Modeled after the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED green building certification program, I-LAST establishes a scoring system for road and transportation projects.
Illinois is now one of only three states (New York and Washington State being the others) to provide this kind of framework for recognizing and promoting green practices across all key areas in road and transportation building.
"This program marks the start of a new era in transportation design and construction," says Michael Sturino, president and CEO of the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA). "Sustainability will be the norm."
The purpose behind I-LAST is threefold, says John Fortmann, P.E., engineer of program development with IDOT.
- Provide a comprehensive list of practices that have the potential to bring sustainable results to highway projects.
- Establish a simple and efficient method of evaluating transportation projects with respect to livability, sustainability, and effect on the natural environment.
- Record and recognize the use of sustainable practices in the transportation industry.
Encouraging the use of sustainable practices
I-LAST is not a mandate or a dictate, says Douglas Knuth, P.E., S.E., project manager with Jacobs Engineering. It's purely advisory in nature, say those involved with its creation, and is intended to ascertain and document sustainable practices proposed for inclusion on state highway projects.
"What we wanted to do as a team was to provide a guide to sustainable practices," says Knuth. "We wanted to establish a simple way to evaluate those practices, and we wanted to recognize and encourage the use of sustainable practices."
Beth Tatro, director of External Programs with IRTBA, agrees with Knuth. "It’s an opportunity, not a mandate," she says. "As a best practice manual, it’s a continued work in progress. As all technology is new and evolving, so is this document."
The I-LAST manual debuted in June 2010 and was introduced to the media in late January. "The I-LAST manual can be used by consultants, IDOT and municipal staff to bring the best project forward for the community," explains Fortmann. "This manual compiles all of our current livable and sustainable practices under one booklet. This would include Context Sensitive Solutions, Complete Streets, and other livable and sustainable measures that IDOT practices when designing an Illinois highway."
The manual contains a checklist of potentially sustainable practices. Following the checklist is a description of the intent of each section and the rationale and measures of effectiveness for each item. There are lists of source materials and additional background resources for each item to assist in understanding and applying the practices.
"This checklist can be used for highway projects – large or small – from resurfacing projects to airport runways," says Knuth.
There are 153 items to be considered, divided into eight categories: planning, design, environmental, water quality, transportation, lighting, materials and innovation.
This guide contains a wide variety of potential sustainable practices and features. Every highway project presents a different set of conditions. As a result there will be items that don’t apply on every project. The goal should be to identify and document practices that are applicable and effective for a particular project, says Fortmann.
"We knew that IDOT was doing a good job in many areas of sustainability," says Fortmann. "However there was no measure or list to provide on each project. The goal was to be able to provide this information on our project in a standard format. This would then also increase awareness among our designers as well as the public."