Holland BPW Pursues ENVISION Certification for Anaerobic Digester
Holland Board of Public Works received Platinum ENVISION recognition for Holland Energy Park in 2016. It was the first facility of its kind to receive the prestigious award. Now HBPW is pursuing ENVISION for the anaerobic digester project.
“The purpose of Envision is to foster a dramatic and necessary improvement in the performance and resiliency of our physical infrastructure across the full spectrum of sustainability”
– Sustainability and the Role of Envision, 2019
ENVISION is a sustainability framework for all types of infrastructure, administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI). “The purpose of Envision is to foster a dramatic and necessary improvement in the performance and resiliency of our physical infrastructure across the full spectrum of sustainability” (Sustainability and the Role of Envision, 2019). “As a guidance tool, Envision provides industry-wide sustainability metrics for all infrastructure types.”
The ENVISION certification process is designed to implement best practices for sustainability early in the planning phase of a project. Choosing to build sustainable infrastructure from the start is much easier and more cost effective than making changes later in the game. “Before you are too far into the planning and design of a project, ENVISION’s pre-assessment checklist and guidance manual help you consider how sustainability can be incorporated into all phases of the project,” explained Sam Bender, Water & Wastewater Process Engineer.
Holland Board of Public Works is pursuing Gold Level ENVISION certification for the anaerobic digester project. “Our objective is to achieve ENVISION without adding additional costs to the project,” said Jane Monroe, Planning Engineer Manager. HBPW’s planning and design process fundamentally includes many of the practices that ENVISION uses as criteria for certification. ENVISION scores are calculated by level of achievement earned within 64 credits in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate & Resilience.
Stakeholder engagement is a common practice for Holland Board of Public Works that aligns with ENVISION’s leadership category. Regarding the anaerobic digester, HBPW collaborated with a number of interested departments within the City of Holland and local environmental organizations: Community & Neighborhood Services, Transportation, Parks & Recreation, Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Planning Commission, City Council, the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC), and Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC). “Stakeholder engagement does not add cost to the project, but allows us to listen to valuable feedback and develop synergies within our community,” said Bender. “For example, Holland’s Parks and Recreation Department is interested in utilizing Class A biosolids as a compost amendment for leaf collection.”
ENVISION considers the full life cycle of the infrastructure, so the certification does not expire. Having third-party verification shows that Holland Board of Public Works is making sustainable choices that will have beneficial long-term effects. The anaerobic digester a good example of sustainable infrastructure because it will make a positive impact in a variety of areas. The anaerobic digester will reduce the amount of solid waste produced at the Water Reclamation Facility (WRF). Less waste results in fewer trucks and associated emissions, advancing the Community Energy Plan goal of less than 10 metric tons of carbon per person. Additionally, the byproducts of the new process will be used for beneficial reuse. High quality Class A biosolids will be used as sustainable fertilizer and the biogas produced from destruction of solids in the digester will be utilized for generating renewable electricity and heat that will be used at the WRF. Quality of life for the community will also be improved with less odors coming from the WRF.
HBPW’s anaerobic digester project has already garnered recognition for being sustainable. Plans for the digester helped earn HBPW a Premier Utility Management Performance (PUMP) Award from the Michigan Water Environment Association (MWEA) in partnership with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Criteria for the PUMP Award rank among the national industry’s highest standards and require aptitudes in at least two of ten Effective Utility Management (EUM) attributes. HBPW’s Holland Area Water Reclamation Facility was recognized for excellence in nine EUM areas: product quality, customer satisfaction, employee and leadership development, operational optimization, financial viability, infrastructure strategy and performance, enterprise resiliency and community sustainability.
The WRF also recently received national recognition as a Utility of the Future Today (UotFT) from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), Water Research Foundation and WateReuse Association. The program recognizes water resource recovery facilities for transformational work in community engagement, watershed stewardship, and recovery of resources such as water, energy, and nutrients. HBPW was recognized for its continued efforts to increase beneficial reuse of solids generated as part of the wastewater treatment process and the anaerobic digester will be a key factor in these efforts in future years.
The PUMP and UotFT Awards are the result of the HBPW’s commitment to sustainability, which is further being advanced by the anaerobic digester and the ENVISION process. “We are confident that ENVISION guides us in the right direction,” remarked Dave Koster, General Manger. ENVISION is more than an award, it is a framework for ensuring that every stage of the infrastructure project considers sustainable practices. ENVISION provides independent validation that Holland Board of Public Works makes choices that will enrich our community well into the future.