The Gordie Howe International Bridge project continues to receive accolades for being a leader in sustainable development.
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) and Bridging North America (BNA) have earned a prestigious Envision™ Platinum Award for the once-in-a-generation project. This certification is the highest possible distinction from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) which recognizes efforts to achieve sustainable development and environmental performance standards at every stage of an infrastructure project, from design to construction and implementation.
This achievement is the result of three years of effort by the project team and was determined through an independent peer-review process that saw the project evaluated across 60 sustainability criteria. ISI verified the project evaluation.
WDBA Vice President of Engineering Grant Hilbers says the project is an example of sustainable infrastructure – one that is socially, environmentally and economically responsible.
“The Gordie Howe International Bridge project recognizes the importance of creating jobs and stimulating the economy while contributing to clean growth,” says Hilbers. “We believe in the importance of protecting communities from the impacts of climate change, preserving healthy ecosystems, building safe sustainable communities and conserving resources for future generations.”
The Gordie Howe International Bridge project includes a comprehensive environmental program that addresses over 450 conditions identified in the bi-national environmental assessment process. It also includes a Community Benefits Plan with $20 million in direct community investments that create opportunities to enhance economic, social and environmental conditions – from trail connections to road and park improvements, home repairs and arts and culture initiatives. Both plans were developed as a result of hundreds of consultation meetings with Michigan and Ontario residents, Indigenous Peoples, business owners as well as community and municipal leaders.
Bridging North America (BNA), the project’s public-sector partner, is required to create and implement a Sustainable Management Policy as part of the project agreement. The policy was used a roadmap to help achieve performance targets for LEED and Envision certifications.
“The policy allowed WDBA to communicate certain priorities, for example, in the way of energy and water conservation,”says Justin Kelley, BNA’s Lead Environmental Officer. “It also left room for BNA to develop strategies to meet overall certification targets. The collaboration led to the development of key performance indicators which resulted in increased levels of achievement, in particular in the Quality of Life and Climate and Risk categories”
To earn the Envision Platinum award, projects must demonstrate sustainability through a third-party project verification process and a comprehensive independent peer-review process conducted and overseen by ISI. The evaluation assesses the program’s performance across 60 sustainability criteria addressing a wide range of indicators including community quality of life, mobility, collaboration, planning, sustainability management, materials, energy, water, economic prosperity, environmental impacts, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and resilience.
ISI’s peer review noted several key sustainability achievements.
Sustainable Long-Term Growth and Development
- Thousands of direct and indirect jobs are being created both during the design-build phase and when the bridge is in operation.
- transportation benefits that address climate change and regional development will be realized including relief of traffic congestion of freight trucks in nearby neighbourhoods on both sides of the bridge, improved border processing for freight and travellers with highway-to-highway connectivity, and connectivity of existing routes and creation of safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists.
- The Community Benefits Plan includes $20 million in direct investments for the Windsor-Detroit region, specifically enhancing the communities of Sandwich and Delray.
- Funding will allow for trail connections, road and park improvements, home repairs, safety lighting near homes, upgraded bus stops, arts and culture initiatives and a contribution to a wildlife eco-passage.
Contributions to Environment, Conservation and Ecological Enhancements
- 100 per cent of the project is located on previously developed lands, with part of it being located on a former (remediated) brownfield site.
- a new prairie habitat and habitat for pollinators will be provided, a peregrine falcon box will be installed and thousands of trees will be planted.
- to address the risk of increased intensity and severity of precipitation over time, the project includes stormwater ponds, low-impact development, and bioswales that manage stormwater going into the public system or entering the waterway.
“This project is a symbol of international cooperation between two great countries. It provides proof that when we work together collaboratively and learn from each other, we can achieve outcomes that benefit people, the planet, and improve economic prosperity,” says ISI Managing Director Melissa Peneycad. “The degree to which sustainability has been baked into the design and decision-making processes of this project is impressive. The team deserves to be commended for leadership in sustainability.”
“Earning this Envision Platinum rating is an impressive achievement for the project team,” says Kelley. “The collaboration between WDBA and BNA helped us realize and highlight sustainable achievements that can be used as best practices for other large infrastructure projects.”
“This robust, third-party review of sustainability performance against 60 different criteria illustrates how the Gordie Howe International Bridge project is delivering on its commitment to the environment and sustainable infrastructure,” adds Hilbers.
Earlier this year, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) received the Environmental, Social and Governance Performance Awardfrom P3 Bulletin in recognition of the project’s benefits for stakeholders, operators, users and the wider community.
Here is where you can learn more about the project’s sustainability commitment and environmental highlights.