IRTBA Green Council Hosts Sustainability Conference

"Green" scoring, diesel emissions among topics covered.

The Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association's Green Council, a group of IRTBA members dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable practices, held its Annual Meeting Wednesday, May 18. Representatives from local businesses, academia, transportation agencies and planning organizations talked about the state of sustainable infrastructure. The keynote address was given by Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur who discussed the Tollway's plans for the future.

Chief among the Green Council's achievements since its inception in 2008 is the creation of the Illinois Livable and Sustainable Transportation Rating System and Guide (I-LAST) in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois.

I-LAST is modeled after USBGC's LEED green building certification program and establishes a voluntary scoring system for road and transportation construction projects. Michael Culp of the Federal Highway Administration spoke to members about developing a similar program on the national level and the model I-LAST is for such a program.

"Illinois is leading the nation in the emerging area of establishing measures and standards for the sustainability of road and transportation projects," says IRTBA Green Council Chairman Jay Behnke of S.T.A.T.E. Testing. "We are flattered that FHWA recognizes our achievements in this area and is doing something similar."

Inconsistent diesel emissions standards among agencies and jurisdictions in Illinois pose a burden to the industry. Ann Bigane-Wilson, president of Bigane Paving Company, spoke to attendees about the need to establish uniform standards for improving air quality. "How can someone run a business with equipment that will work on one jobsite, but not another?"

Also addressing the Green Council were: Dr. Imad al Qadi, University of Illinois; Tim Milam, Illinois Department of Transportation; and Tom Murtha, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

The Green Council continues to add to its ranks. Now up to 196 member firms, it has doubled in size in the last six months. More than half of all IRTBA members now belong to the Green Council. Green Council members are developing and employing innovative, green, sustainable products and practices and are leading the rest of the industry and the country in building infrastructure that is more environmentally sensitive, more a living, breathing part of the landscape, than something imposed on it.

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