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Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.2. The Trend toward Environmental Stewardship

Discussions among environmental leaders at several DOTs led to the genesis of AASHTO's Environmental Stewardship Demonstration Program in the fall of 2001, with financial support from FHWA. The demonstration program acknowledges three levels of approaches to environmental stewardship among transportation agencies, from adding stewardship features to projects on a case-by-case basis, without major changes to financial or organizational systems, to developing programmatic stewardship efforts and institutionalizing changes to the organization and its processes. Cultural and process change may be the most challenging, but can bring about some of the greatest rewards, as leaders in the field testify. Some of these leading states have adopted environmental policies and stewardship objectives in strategic plans, are utilizing and expanding the environmental expertise of all staff, and modifying procedures and business processes to incorporate environmentally sound decision-making and action in all parts of the organization.

Participants in a workshop focused on stewardship at the Transportation Research Board's 2001 A1F02 Environmental Analysis in Transportation Committee meeting defined environmental stewardship in transportation as:

  • Wise choices based on understanding the consequences to natural, human-made, and social environments.
  • Improving environmental conditions and the quality of life when possible, not just complying with regulations.
  • Careful management of environmental resources and values through partnerships among public and private entities.
  • Attitude, ethics, and behavior by individuals.
  • Fulfilling responsibilities as trustees of the environment for succeeding generations, moving toward a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable future.
  • Integrating environmental values with partners within all transportation work as a "core business value."

AASHTO has taken steps to try to expand environmental stewardship among DOTs by publicizing DOT success stories, recognizing notable DOT initiatives, and creating the Center for Environmental Excellence, a one stop source of environmental information for transportation professionals. AASHTO's Standing Committee on the Environment initiated the NCHRP 25-25 research program focusing on research to "develop improvements to the analytical methods, decision-support tools, procedures, and techniques employed by practitioners in environmental streamlining, environmental stewardship, statewide and metropolitan environmental transportation planning, program delivery, and project development. [N] This research program has backed the current study effort, with interest, support, and involvement from the AASHTO Subcommittees on Construction and Maintenance, as well as the TRB Task Force on Accelerating Innovation.

This document should be viewed as a starting point for DOTs, to increase exposure to and utilization of a range of environmental stewardship practices in use or under consideration. It is hoped that as a starting point, DOTs will find ways to use and continue to update and extend this resource and fill the inevitable gaps, accelerating environmental stewardship and implementation of environmental practice across the country. A separate implementation plan will address these aspirations. Additional practices can be sent to the study authors or the Center for Environmental Excellence.


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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.1 Problem Statement and Research Objectives
1.2 The Trend Toward Environmental Stewardship
1.3 Scope of Study and Definition of Environmental Stewardship Practices
1.4 Research Approach
1.5 Research Uses
1.6 Disclaimer/Limitation of Liability
Lists: Examples | Tables | Figures
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