How To: Smarter Infrastructure Investments

In the next few decades, U.S. governments and businesses are predicted to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure. This is the reality. The question is: how do we get smart about these investments?

2 minute read

November 15, 2014, 5:00 AM PST

By Todd Litman

electricity infrastructure

OiMax / Flickr

Infrastructure—for many people it’s a boring word. But if the power goes out, traffic is snarled, the water faucet runs dry, or the toilet won’t flush—even for just a couple of days—the vital importance of our infrastructure systems can suddenly come into focus.

The United States will need to spend over $3 trillion on infrastructure in the next decade just to keep our nation’s vital systems, like energy, transportation, water, and waste, in working order, according to experts. Will we spend that money wisely, investing in creative new approaches and sustainable innovation which will be better for the environment and more affordable?

The Evergreen State College has launched the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) with a goal of developing innovative solutions to these massive public works challenges. Based at the college’s Olympia campus, the Center links regional innovators, advocates sustainable best practices, and develops skilled professionals who will put these principles to work in infrastructure development. 

The Center envisions a future for the region where sustainable, resilient, and affordable infrastructure systems provide vital services accessible to all, supporting healthy, prosperous, beautiful, and cohesive communities. But a shift of this magnitude will be not be easy. A wide range of professions have a role to play, from the leaders of infrastructure agencies and utilities, to community planners and elected officials, builders and design teams, engineers and technology firms, financiers and lenders, advocates and regulators. The Center aims to develop tools and programs that will prove useful to them as they help Northwest communities transform how they think about, plan for, and invest in their infrastructure assets.

The CSI's new report, Infrastructure Crisis, Sustainable Solutions: Rethinking Our Infrastructure Investment Strategies distills the insights from 70 of the Pacific Northwest’s top infrastructure innovators and thought leaders to discover how we can best transform the way we invest in these vital systems. 

Friday, November 14, 2014 in Infrastructure Crisis Sustainable Solutions

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