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Blacksburg Adopts Envision Rating System for Sustainable Infrastructure

The Town of Blacksburg, Virginia, has adopted the use the Envision rating system to guide sustainable development of high-profile municipal projects. As a show of commitment, the Town hosted a two-day training in February of 2019 to credential staff from Planning, Public Works, Engineering, Parks and Recreation, Sustainability, and the Town Manager’s Office as Envision Sustainability Professionals (ENV SPs). Town of Blacksburg staff are now able to use the Envision framework and recommendations to improve decision-making and cross-departmental collaboration; to fully consider sustainability objectives in to the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of municipal infrastructure; to improve engagement of stakeholders and the broader community; and to add the credibility of a third-party rating system to important public projects.

Denise Nelson, Environmental Engineer, provided the training. Denise is the only qualified Envision trainer in Virginia. She is a leading expert on the Envision system and was one of the first people to earn the ENV SP credential. As a volunteer, she helped lead the effort to create the Envision in-person training program and later helped in the development of online training materials.

"I’ve heard nothing but super positive feedback from all the staff that were there. The 3 department heads that were there – Engineering, Town Manager, and Planning – were very complimentary of Denise as a trainer and ENVISION as a whole.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how it went, a huge thank you to Denise and all of you at the Berkley Group!"

-Carol Davis, Sustainability Manager

Envision is freely available in a guidance manual, online scoresheet, and pre-assessment checklist. It was updated this year to version 3 addressing 64 concepts, or credits, organized into five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. The ENV SP professional credential and a third-party project review and recognition program are available on a fee basis. Denise is also qualified as a third-party project reviewer and was selected to review the first project to receive an Envision award.

Envision is intended to be seamlessly integrated into current practices to minimize any impacts to schedule and budget. The guidance is adaptable for all types of infrastructure, comprehensive to cover all types of best practices, and thorough in addressing all lifecycle phases. The benefits of using Envision include applying best practices, recognizing triple bottom line impacts, transparency, accountability, and, ultimately, demonstrating good governance.

The Berkley Group has trained many professionals nationwide in using Envision and currently has four projects in the application process for an award. If you’d like to learn more, contact Denise at

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