Transportation design and construction groups in Illinois have helped to design a voluntary guide intended to encourage use of sustainable practices for the transportation projects in the state. The Illinois – Livable and Sustainable Transportation Rating System and Guide (I-LAST), issued in January 2010, was developed in a cooperative effort between the Illinois Department of Transportation, the American Council of Engineering Companies–Illinois (ACEC-Illinois), and the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA). The guide – which is voluntary and “advisory in nature” – provides a description of sustainability in transportation and provides a tool for identifying and documenting sustainable practices on highway projects in the state.
Purpose & Goals
The purpose of the guide is to:
- provide a comprehensive list of practices that have the potential to bring sustainable results to highway projects;
- establish a simple and efficient method of evaluating transportation projects with respect to livability, sustainability, and effect on the natural environment; and
- record and recognize the use of sustainable practices in the transportation industry.
The I-LAST guide identifies the following goals of providing sustainable features in the design and construction of highway projects:
- Minimize impacts to environmental resources
- Minimize consumption of material resources
- Minimize energy consumption
- Preserve or enhance the historic, scenic and aesthetic context of a highway project
- Integrate highway projects into the community in a way that helps to preserve and enhance community life
- Encourage community involvement in the transportation planning process
- Encourage integration of non-motorized means of transportation into a highway project
- Find a balance between what is important: to the transportation function of the facility, to the community to the natural environment, and is economically sound,
- Encourage the use of new and innovative approaches in achieving these goals.
The guide includes a checklist-based scorecard for evaluating the sustainable practices included in a highway project, with 17 separate sustainable features in eight categories:
- Planning: context sensitive solutions, land use /community planning;
- Design: alignment selection, context sensitive design;
- Environmental: protect, enhance or restore wildlife communities; protect, enhance, restore native plant communities; noise abatement;
- Water: reduce impervious area; stormwater treatment; construction practices to protect water quality;
- Transportation: traffic operations, transit, improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
- Lighting: reduced electrical consumption, stray light reduction;
- Materials; and
For each of the 17 features, the scorecard lists activities and available points that could be earned for each activity included on a project. It also provides an explanation and resources to help users better understand how to implement each of the sustainable features.
The effort started with a desire to be more proactive on sustainability and was inspired by the GreenLITES approach developed by New York State DOT (see related case study). Industry partners worked with Illinois DOT to tailor their own system, agreeing that it would be used only on a voluntary basis. There is currently no certification or other incentive for the project scoring system, but such an approach may be added in the future.
While the I-LAST approach is voluntary, District 1 already has begun using the approach. The sustainable actions listed in the guide are already being done on many projects, but it is expected to bring awareness and encourage sustainable practices. While officials say they do not foresee a statewide mandate for the approach, it is expected to raise awareness of the types of practices that can be done.
The extent to which the Illinois guide takes hold also may be influenced by a sustainability tool currently under development by the Federal Highway Administration. The agency is in the process of developing its own rating system to provide criteria for sustainable practices.
For more information on the Illinois approach, link to the Illinois – Livable and Sustainable Transportation Rating System and Guide (I-LAST).