Innovating for Sustainability – Tacoma Example

The City of Tacoma was named one of the most polluted urban environments in North America in the early 80s. Since then, the city has striven to clean up its environment and provide a model for sustainable living. And they want your help to create a tool to streamline the process.

Jim Parvey is the senior principal engineer for Tacoma. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that they need the tool because there are always more projects that need to be done than resources available.

“We need to think of this as a 3 part stool: one part community, one part environment and one part financial. What we need is a tool that helps us make better decisions about small projects. The most direct application is our capital budget for our environment services utilities. We have a list of about 40-100 projects that need to be doen every year. They are fairly small and under $2 million, but not all of them will get done in any given year. So what we want is to be able to do an analysis on each of those projects and figure out the best projects in the long-term for the city in terms of environmental impact, community impact and financial,” said Parvey.

The objectives of the Sustainable Return on Investment tool are to:

  • ensure project and program compatibility with the City’s sustainability goals.
  • provide a user-friendly and accessible method to objectively evaluate projects within a consistent framework.
  • be usable throughout the ESU and beyond.
  • be based on LCA principles.
  • provide transparency in terms of assumptions, methods, and criteria.

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