Infrastructure Sustainability & Design at Harvard University with Paul Zofnass

April 21-23, 2010

Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA

All sessions take place in Piper Auditorium, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA.

For more information and to register please visit:


Infrastructure – land use, transportation, energy, water, solid waste, information, etc., plays an enormously important, though often under-stated, role in the operation of cities and our quality of life. Moreover, infrastructure deeply impacts ecosystems, consumes natural resources, and contributes to climate-changing carbon emissions – in both its construction and operating phases. Sustainability of infrastructure is a highly relevant topic, yet one that has received far less attention than similar questions related to the sustainability of buildings.

The impressive galvanizing effect of LEED, an independent, third-party benchmarking system on building design has inspired interest in establishing an independent, third-party benchmark for the design and development of sustainable infrastructure and large-scale projects. In 2008, the GSD launched the Zofnass Program for Infrastructure Sustainability, whose mission is to develop and disseminate such a set of benchmarks.

This conference serves as the initial public introduction of these benchmarks and the reasoning behind them. We will explore Infrastructure Sustainability within the context of the profound challenges facing humanity today, including those of environmental degradation, global warming, resource depletion, inadequate civil and social infrastructure in developing countries, and the intense need for infrastructure rehabilitation in developed countries. The question is how the planning, design, construction, finance, and operation industries can contribute to the “greening” of infrastructures?

The imperative for both public and private parties to address these issues is urgent and intense. Effecting change is notoriously difficult. Meaningful change will only come if stakeholders are presented with a compelling case and value proposition. Such an approach requires transparent and widely accepted metrics, a coherent strategy, and long-term partnering between stakeholders. However, the current scarcity of metrics, standards, and processes for sustainable infrastructure increases the difficulty of formulating a compelling value proposition and delivering upon political and social mandates. This conference creates a nexus between academia, industry, and government, to combine their skills and resources in an effort to better define and measure infrastructure sustainability, while creating a case for the adoption of the Zofnass Model.

Speakers include representatives from the Zofnass Program Advisory Committee, and select guests specializing in the four domains of environmental sustainability as defined by the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure: Resource Allocation; Natural World; Climate Change; and Quality of Life.