Making the Right Choices
for Your Utility:
Using Sustainability Criteria for Water
Infrastructure Decision Making
February 2015
United States
Environmental Protection
hI	Agency

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Using Sustain ability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making
Table of Contents
Introduction and Purpose of This Guide	1
STEP 1: Determine the Sustainability Goals and Objectives Used to Make Decisions on Alternatives	5
STEP 2: Determine the Criteria You Will Use to Support Analysis of Project Alternatives	10
STEP 3: Establishing the Metrics for Your Selected Criteria	14
STEP 4: Create a Common Scale for Your Criteria	16
STEP 5: Evaluate the Performance of Each Alternative	19
STEP 6: Sum Performance Scores for Each Alternative and Compare Alternatives	21
Conclusion	23
Attachment A: Potential Evaluation Criteria	24
Attachment B: Key Considerations for Selected Sample Analysis Criteria	27
Aesthetic Impacts	28
Ecosystem Impacts	30
Educational Opportunities	32
Energy Impacts	34
Greenhouse Gas Impacts	36
Public Space Impact	38
Attachment C: Refining Your Analysis - Optional Additional Steps	40
REFINEMENT 1: Accommodating the Difference in the Relative Importance of Sustainability Goals (Related to
STEP 2)	40
REFINEMENT 2: Placing Direct Measures on a Comparable Basis (Related to Step 3)	42
REFINEMENT 3: Adjusting for Differences in Benefits (Related to Step 4)	44
REFINEMENT 4: Performance Uncertainty (Related to Step 5)	46
Bringing It All Together: An Example of Benefits Score Derivation with all Four Considerations in Play	46

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Using Sustain ability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making
Contributors
Jim Home
U.S. EPA (Lead)
Deborah Nagle
U.S. EPA
Cheryl Welch
Tualatin Valley Water District
Bonnie Gitlin
U.S. EPA
Matt King
U.S. EPA
Mike Beezhold
CDM Smith
Kellie Kubena
U.S. EPA
This product was developed with assistance from Rob Greenwood, Morgan Hoenig, and Louis Sweeny
at Ross Strategic (www.rossstrategic.com) under Contract EP-C-11-009 with the Office of Wastewater
Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page I
Introduction and Purpose of This Guide
Having the capacity to compare a range of infrastructure alternatives objectively is critical to a water or
wastewater utility's long-term sustainability and its ability to serve the needs of its community. This guide is
designed to help water and wastewater utilities undertake these critical comparisons, in the context of
meeting their existing regulatory requirements and improving the sustainability of utility operations.
This document is designed to supplement the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA)
Planning for Sustainability: A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities ("the Handbook"), issued in
February 2012. The Handbook identifies a number of steps utilities can take to incorporate sustainability
considerations into their existing planning processes, organized around four core elements of planning
commonly used by utilities:
•	PLANNING ELEMENT 1: Goal Setting - Establish
sustainability goals that reflect utility and community
priorities.
•	PLANNING ELEMENT 2: Objectives and Strategies -
Establish objectives and strategies for each
sustainability goai.
•	PLANNING ELEMENT 3; Alternatives Analysis - Analyze
a range of alternatives based on consistent criteria.
•	PLANNING ELEMENT 4: Financial Strategy - Ensure that
investments are sufficiently funded, operated,
maintained, and replaced overtime.
One of most important of these elements is Alternatives
Analysis. Alternatives Analysis involves objectively evaluating a
range of infrastructure and/or operational alternatives in order
to make informed choices about utility investments to ensure
the long-term sustainability of the utility and the community it
serves.
Planning Element 3 in the Handbook provides basic information
and steps that utilities can take to incorporate sustainability
criteria into their alternatives analysis activities. The Handbook
also provides examples of how utilities of different sizes have
approached this planning element; they cover a range from
general, qualitative approaches, to full monetization of both
costs and benefits.
This document supplements Element 3 in the Handbook
(Alternatives Analysis) to provide more detailed guidance on
alternatives analysis methods that utilities can use to
r
Planning for Sustainability *!&—
A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities

F5.
Sr
gi
TIP : This document assumes a
basic level of familiarity with the
concepts presented in Planning
for Sustainability: A Handbook
for Water and Wastewater
Utilities. EPA strongly
encourages you to become
familiar with the Handbook as
you use the supplemental
information in this guide. The
Handbook can be found online:
http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/su
stain/upload/EPA-s-Plarming-for-
Sustainabilitv-Handbook.pdf
V.	J

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 2
incorporate sustainability criteria when evaluating infrastructure or operational alternatives and making
decisions related to major infrastructure investments. It enables utilities of varying degrees of size and
capacity, working with local officials and community members, to undertake a decision-making process that
gives balanced consideration to a full range of alternatives - including green and decentralized technologies
-to best meet the overall short and long-term needs of the community.
The diagram below provides a visual process for conducting an alternatives analysis. It also shows what
information is available in this guide, what information is available in the Handbook, and what roles the
utility and the community can play at each step.
INVOLVED PARTIES	STEPS	SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS
Involved parties: 		
Material covered in thisguids:	
Material covered in the Handbook:	
Optional material covered in this guide:

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 3
What Are 'Sustainability Criteria'?
In conventional alternatives analysis, utilities typically
focus on criteria based on technical performance (e.g.,
whether the alternative support meeting a regulatory
endpoint such as a technology or water quality discharge
standard) and the cost of doing so (i.e., the present value
of the full life-cycle costs of the alternative), along with
other important technical and operational criteria such as
reliability, maintainability, and accessibility.
This guide acknowledges the importance of these
conventional criteria, while providing guidance on how
utilities can supplement these with a range of additional
criteria and related methods to help your utility evaluate
infrastructure and other operational alternatives more
broadly, and in a consistent and transparent manner. In
particular, this guide brings a focus to criteria that enable
utilities to make decisions that reflect other community
and utility sustainability goals and objectives related to
economic, social, and environmental performance. Some
potential examples of sustainability criteria include
greater use of green or decentralized approaches,
ecological impacts such as habitat restoration, and
reduced greenhouse gas emissions through greater
energy efficiency.
How Alternatives Analysis Methods
Support the Criteria
r	¦>
How This Document Can Help
Your Utility
Infrastructure investments are often
some of the largest and longest term
financial commitments a community
will make. They can represent a once-
in-a-generation opportunity to
influence the short- and long-term
economic, social, and environmental
sustainability and resiliency of your
community. Let's not miss this
opportunity. EPA believes that this
guide will help to leverage these
opportunities and equip utility
managers, local officials and community
members to:
1.	Define your sustainability goals and
objectives;
2.	Better understand the options for the
type of sustainability criteria you can
use;
3.	More efficiently define, scale, and
measure these criteria; and
4.	Better integrate these criteria into
alternatives analysis methods to
make sound and transparent
decisions, leading to greater overall
utility and community sustainability.
V.
There is a wide range of methods and approaches to
incorporating "non-conventional criteria" into alternatives
analysis. Planning for Sustainability: A Handbook for Water
and Wastewater Utilities, under Planning Element 3,
provides an overview and examples of the range of approaches available to utility managers from strictly
qualitative to highly quantitative, including full monetization of the criteria being considered.
This supplemental guide does not seek to explore and explain this full range of methods available to utility
managers. Rather, the purpose of this guide is to distill the experience utilities have had with incorporating
sustainability criteria into alternatives analysis and provide you with a basic, sound, and easily explainable
(and transparent) way to conduct the analysis in the context of working with community officials and
citizens. The guide is also intended to be useful for utilities with either limited time or limited resources to

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 4
devote to such analyses. The approach touches on all the elements of much more sophisticated methods,
should the utility wish to employ these methods, while deliberately avoiding some of their more
conceptually and methodologically challenging aspects. The guide indicates where "POSSIBLE
REFINEMENTS" might be useful. Appendix C provides descriptions of some of these refinements, which are
more complex analytical approaches for those interested in diving more deeply.
How to Get Started
This guide provides a step-by-step approach to take your utility from setting sustainability-oriented goals
and objectives to establishing evaluation criteria and performance metrics for the purpose of making
decisions through the calculation of "benefits scores" for each alternative, and finally to making a
comparative ranking of all alternatives. In all, there are six steps:
•	Step 1 - Determine the Sustainability Goals and Objectives Used to Make Decisions on Alternatives
•	Step 2 - Determine the Criteria You Will Use to Support Analysis of Your Objectives
•	Step 3 - Establish the Metrics for Your Selected Criteria
•	Step 4 - Create a Common Scale for Your Criteria
•	Step 5 - Evaluate the Performance of Each Alternative
•	Step 6 - Sum Performance Scores for Each Alternative and Compare Alternatives
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
Throughout this guide, we will the "Smithtown Utility District" as an example to illustrate how a utility can
work through and implement each of the six steps to incorporating sustainability criteria into alternatives
analysis.
The Smithtown Utility District (SUD), a municipal wastewater treatment system with a single treatment
facility, needs to comply with new regulations and has under consideration two alternatives. To keep the
example simple, both alternatives deliver identical regulatory, reliability, and maintainability
performance. Alternative 1 has a full life-cycle, net present value cost of $12 million; Alternative 2 has a
$6 million cost.
•	Alternative 1: Provides a treatment upgrade that addresses the new regulatory requirements and
includes leveraging the new investments to enhance biogas to energy production at the treatment
plant. This alternative does require plant expansion with substantial encroachment on an existing
residential neighborhood, as well as the conversion of what is currently open space to facility
property.
•	Alternative 2: Provides a treatment upgrade that addresses the new regulatory requirements, but
does not alter the current energy production capability of the plant. This alternative maintains the
existing footprint of the plant, but it uses the construction activities as an opportunity to reduce
permeable surface wherever possible.
Lets Get Started...

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 5
STEP I: Determine the Sustainability Goals and
Objectives Used to Make Decisions on
Alternatives
KEY TERMS
Goals: Broad, qualitative
statements of what the utility
hopes to achieve.
Objectives: Specific,
measurable statements of what
will be done to achieve goals
within a particular time frame.
Strategies: General approaches
or methods for achieving
objectives and resolving specific
issues. Strategies help to answer
the question "How will we
accomplish our objectives?"
The first step in building sustainability criteria into alternatives
analysis is to set sustainability goals and identify objectives
and strategies for reaching these goals.
[STEP 1.1] GOAL SETTING: Establish sustainability goals that
reflect utility and community priorities.
To provide a foundation as a way to incorporate sustainability
throughout your planning processes, your utility should set
sustainability goals. The goals should be broad, high-level
statements that define the utility's aspirations for improving
its sustainability.
In the context of goal setting, sustainability can be broadly
defined using the following elements, commonly known as the
triple bottom line:
(1)	Environmental sustainability.
(2)	Social sustainability.
(3)	Economic sustainability.
Whenever practicable, your utility should consult with community members,
customers, decision makers, and other key stakeholders when defining
sustainability goals. This process could be incorporated into other existing
planning processes - either community planning processes or utility long-term
planning. Another source of insight for goal setting could be talking to
neighboring utilities about the priorities that they have deemed important.
Down the road, these utilities could also become partners in pursuing your
sustainability-related initiatives, helping you to accomplish your goals.
Key Questions to consider when setting sustainability goals include:
• Questions for your utility:
TIP: Discuss your
utility's
sustainability goal
setting as part of a
broader planning
process, such as an
update to the
community
development plan.
What opportunities do our infrastructure and operations
provide for increased sustainability and improved
performance?
Has an assessment helped to identify gaps in technical, managerial, or financial capacity that
could be addressed to improve system performance or resilience?

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 6
o How can strategies for meeting regulatory requirements complement our utility's
sustainability goals?
• Questions for the community:
o Are there existing community plan or "vision" documents that include sustainability
priorities? Examples of such priorities might include greater access to public transportation,
increased amounts of open space, or reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
o Are there other important resources in the community that stakeholders want to see
created, preserved or enhanced (e.g., wetlands, open space, or parks)?
g Are other community departments (e.g., transportation) pursuing sustainability goals?
Key Resources that utilities might want to look at when setting sustainability goals include:
Effective Utility Management: A Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities
The Primer presents a framework for water and wastewater utility managers to use when
assessing the effectiveness of their utilities. The framework is based on a series of 10
Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and Keys to Management Success.
Available online:
http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/upload/2009 05 26 waterinfrastructures tools
si watereum primerforeffectiveutilities.pdf
Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management
The Guidebook uses the same Effective Utility Management framework as the Primer, but is
tailored to the needs of rural and small systems.
Available online:
http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/upload/Rural-and-Small-Svstems-Guidebook 1-
20-15 508.pdf
Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your
Water Utility Roadmap
Using the same Effective Utility Management framework as the two previous documents, this
document identifies a series of proven and effective managerial practices to improve utility
operations over time and move toward sustainability, at a pace consistent with utility needs
and the needs of its community.
Available online:
http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/upload/Sustainable-Utilities-Roadmap-12-10-
14 508.pdf
Once you have set your sustainability goals, don't forget to...
V Document your goals and communicate them, both internally and externally.
¦S Make plans for how often the goals should be assessed for progress or updated.
WdJ
Effective Utility
Management
^ oEPA
Rural and Small
Systems Guidebook to
Sustainable Utility
Management
For additional information about goal setting, refer to PLANNING ELEMENT 1 in Planning for Sustainability:
A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 7
High
[STEP 1.2] OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES: Establish objectives and strategies for each sustainability goal
Once you have defined your sustainability goals, you should set explicit objectives and strategies for each
goal. Each objective will represent a specific
outcome that your utility will work toward;
strategies will describe approaches for
reaching these outcomes. When setting
objectives and strategies, it is also useful to
determine the baseline for performance,
which represents your utility's current level
of performance and is needed to measure
progress towards the objective.
When setting objectives, take current
resources, conditions, and constraints into
account. The most effective objectives and
strategies follow the SMART principles:
oj
CL
Low
L



Objective de ¦ed level
A
A
of performance


Strategies-Move utility from current to


desired level of performance

—
Baseline - Current level

of performance)
Specific - utilities specify exactly what will be achieved
Measurable - utilities have the ability to measure whether they are meeting the objectives
Attainable - utilities can realistically achieve the objective in the time period specified
Realistic - utilities can achieve the objective with the capacity, funding, and other resources
available
Time-based - utilities set a timeframe for
achieving the objective
When developing strategies to achieve each objective, it
is typically best to start by brainstorming. When
brainstorming, there is no limit on the number of
strategies allowed, and no strategy is off the table. After a
complete brainstorm has taken place, then strategies can
be evaluated and narrowed down based on which can
realistically be implemented, and which will give your
utility the best returns with regard to its sustainability
goals.
After setting objectives and strategies, you should
determine baseline information for each objective. They
can either be a specific quantitative measurement (e.g.,
kilowatt hours of energy used per month for an objective
related to energy savings) or a qualitative description of
current conditions.
¦\
TIP: Some objectives might not be
quantifiable. In assessing some
elements of sustainability (especially
those related to social sustainability),
it might be difficult to come up with
an objective that includes a specific
numerical goal. In these cases, work
to set concise objectives and
describe baseline performance
qualitatively. For example, if a utility
is seeking to enhance livability in its
community, an objective could be
"enhance public space." Step 4 in
this guide includes additional
information on how these types of
objectives can be assessed.
Vv.	J

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 8
Key Questions to consider when identifying objectives and strategies
include:
Are there strategies that will result in dual benefits (i.e., will they
help advance more than one sustainability goal or objective)?
How many objectives and strategies can our utility realistically
take on related to each sustainability goal?
When setting timelines, how many sustainability objectives can
realistically be addressed at one time? What are the priorities for
which to address first?
TIP: When first starting
with alternatives analysis,
focus on a limited number
of objectives to help
simplify the process.
EXAMPLES OF SUSTAINABILITY GOALS WITH RELATED OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
Goal
Objectives and Strategies
Utility seeks to engage in climate change
mitigation efforts.
OBJECTIVE: Reduce net GHG emissions by 20 percent over three
years.
STRATEGIES:
(1)	Conduct an initial audit to establish a baseline level of annual
GHG emissions
(2)	Identify major sources of direct (e.g., methane output) and
indirect (e.g., energy consumption) GHG emissions
associated with utility operations
(3)	Identify methods for reducing or eliminating emission
sources
Utility seeks to enhance community
livability.
OBJECTIVES:
(1)	Improve community aesthetics
(2)	Enhance public space
STRATEGIES:
(1)	Place utility infrastructure in locations least visible to
community members (e.g., not near residential or
commercial developments)
(2)	Seek project options that provide opportunities to add to
existing or new park or recreational areas
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
In addition to conventional goals such as regulatory compliance and effectiveness and reliability of
treatment performance, SUD, through consultation within its community, has identifies three
sustainability goals:
(1)	Improve community livability
(2)	Improve energy performance
(3)	Enhance ecosystem functions
As captured in the Table below, SUD also works with its community to create a single objective for each
goal. (Note that it would often be the case that each sustainability goal would have more than one

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 9
objective associated with it.) These objectives will form the basis for comparing the performance of any
project alternatives SUD will need to evaluate in the future.
Goal
Objective
Improve community
livability
Create greater compatibility of utility
infrastructure with community
conditions.
Improve energy
performance
Decrease million gallon (mg) energy
requirements by 20 percent over five
years.
Enhance ecosystem
function
Increase community stormwater
infiltration by 10 percent over three
years.
For additional information about objectives and strategies, refer to PLANNING ELEMENT 1 in Planning for
Sustainability: A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 10
STEP 2: Determine the Criteria You Will Use to
Support Analysis of Project Alternatives
KEY TERMS
Alternatives: Within a
strategy, specific
infrastructure investments or
operational changes for
achieving objectives.
Criteria: Measures or
conditions used to evaluate
alternatives.
Once you have determined your goals and objectives, you will need
to determine the criteria that you will use to evaluate alternatives
for future projects, programs, and investments. Historically, utilities
have tended to focus on conventional criteria (e.g., cost
effectiveness, payback period, or return on investment). This guide,
however, will focus on sustainability criteria - specifically criteria
related to community environmental, social, and economic
performance.
Attachment A includes examples of potential evaluation criteria
that you can consider. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but
can provide a starting point for criteria development. The criteria in
this list are drawn from the following sources, which can also be
good resources for utilities looking for additional information.
Key Resources that your utility might want to look at
when selecting sustainability criteria include:
•	ISI Envision Infrastructure Rating System
http://www.sustainableinfrastructure.org/rating/
•	UN Commission on Sustainable Development
Indicators
http://www.un.0rg/esa/sustdev/natlinf0/indicat0rs/g
uidelines.pdf
•	Environmental Sustainability Index (Yale Center for
Environmental Law and Policy)
http://envirocenter.vale.edu/programs/environmenta
l-performance-management/environmental-
sustainability-index
•	Global City Indicators Facility
http://www.citvindicators.org/
•	Minneapolis Sustainability Indicators
http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/sustainabilitv/indic
ators/sustainability indicators
•	Sydney 2030 - http://www.svdnev2030.com.au/
r	¦>
POSSIBLE REFINEMENTS-
accommodating THE DIFFERING
RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR
SUSTAINABILITY GOALS
When establishing the criteria that
you will use to assess different
alternatives, you may find that your
community values certain
sustainability goals more or less than
others. If this is the case, you have the
option of weighting the goals (and
associated objectives and criteria)
differently in your analysis.
Refinement 1 in Attachment C
provides a description of how you can
adjust criteria weighting in this
manner.

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page I I
Once selected, criteria should be clearly defined and communicated so that there is no question about the
scope of each. Definitions should be clear about the relationship of each criterion to alternatives. Below are
examples of definitions of ten different criteria for the three different pillars of triple bottom line
sustainability.
Environmental Criteria - Example Definitions
Ecosystem Impacts: Utility operations and infrastructure choices can influence or impact surrounding
ecosystems by affecting ecological structure, or key ecological functions, or changing the makeup of the
ecosystem as a result of land use, construction, or discharge practices. This criterion supports evaluating
project alternative performance relative to ecosystem effects addressing such areas as impermeable surface
changes, habitat extent or alteration, and species diversity. [Examples for this criterion are included in
Attachment B]
Energy Impacts: Water and wastewater utilities are highly energy-intensive, and project alternatives will
exhibit differences in their energy requirements and their potential for ongoing contribution to energy
optimization for the utility system. This criterion supports evaluating the comparative energy performance
(use or production) of project alternatives. Some wastewater treatment plants are now being called
Resource Recovery facilities (WEF 2013). [Examples for this criterion are included in Attachment B]
Greenhouse Gas Impacts: Water sector utilities, as large energy users, contribute to GHG emissions through
fossil fuel and electricity-based energy use, as well as through methane and nitrous oxide emissions from
operations like digesters. This criterion supports evaluation of project alternatives from the standpoint of
their impact on such areas as increased energy efficiency (a leading way utilities can reduce GHG emissions),
better optimized operations to reduce methane or nitrous oxide emissions, utilization of biogas for energy
production (e.g., combined heat and power), and handling and disposition of biosolids. [Examples for this
criterion are included in Attachment B]
Water Impacts: This criterion supports the evaluation of project alternatives from the perspective of the
potential for affecting different aspects of the water cycle. Utilities reside at a critical nexus in the overall
water cycle within their communities, operating across the water withdrawal, use, and replenishment
continuum. Project alternatives hold the potential to reflect differences in their impacts on the place, timing,
and amount of water withdrawals, the ratio of consumptive to non-consumptive use, the degree of water
use efficiency (e.g., revenue versus non-revenue water) and conservation, and the place, timing, and
amount of water replenishment.
Social Criteria — Example Definitions
Aesthetic Impacts: Utility investments can affect the community's aesthetic composition, for example, by
enhancing or degrading the character of a neighborhood, blocking or enhancing views, or adding industrial
structures that either fit with the character of, or are out of place in, a neighborhood. This criterion supports
evaluating the inherent aesthetic impacts of a project alternative separate from any consideration of
mitigation measures that could be used to reduce undesirable effects. For example, the community could
construct an aesthetic compatibility index to rate alternatives.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 12
Educational Opportunities: Utility project alternatives might or might not be inherently conducive to
informing and educating the public about the value of water and the essential service water and wastewater
systems provide to their communities. This criterion supports evaluating how conducive a project
alternative will be to conveying these and related messages through ready access to and interactivity with
the location, posting of educational signage, tour opportunities, or other messaging opportunities.
[Examples for this criterion are included in Attachment B]
Public Space Enhancement: Utility operations can impact public spaces through the type and location of
facilities or infrastructure (e.g., gray, green, and decentralized). This criterion supports the evaluation of (1)
direct impacts on public spaces such as waterfront areas, green spaces, parks, or other public gathering
places by increasing/decreasing access, quality, or availability, and (2) opportunities created when the
project alternative is conducive to creating or enhancing existing public spaces through creative utilization of
land resources (e.g., the multi-purpose benefit of creating a park when covering a finished water reservoir).
[Examples for this criterion are included in Attachment B]
Economic Criteria — Example Definitions
Economic Base Impacts: The decisions that utilities make relative to location and capacity of infrastructure
and facilities can affect property values, commercial, industrial, and retail activity, and residential patterns in
neighborhoods. This criterion seeks to account for these external economic impacts for each project
alternative under consideration.
Enhanced Resiliency: Project alternatives can, in and of themselves, be more or less resilient - have the
inherent ability to recover from or adjust easily to unforeseen events or change - or they can contribute
differently to overall utility or community resiliency. This criterion supports evaluating project alternatives
from the perspective of how well they help the utility/community to strengthen its ability to prepare for,
respond or adapt to, and/or recover from significant man-made or natural disasters through vulnerability or
consequence reduction.
Community Design Consistency: Many communities have established sustainability or other long-range
plans that seek to influence the livability and quality of life within their jurisdictions, including density,
access to transportation service, and land use pattern objectives. This criterion supports evaluating project
alternatives for their degree of support or enhancement to these types of urban design considerations.
When developing sustainability criteria, Jon't forget that...
S Sustainability criteria are not meant to supplement regulatory (e.g., biologic oxygen demand) or
conventional technical performance (e.g., maintainability).
S Sustainability Criteria should address at least one of the three triple bottom line pillars of
sustainability - environmental, social, and economic.
S Each criterion should be screened for potential relationships to the impacts that a water or
wastewater system project design, construction, or operation could have.
S Each utility objective with direct relevance to the alternatives under consideration should have at
least one criterion set for it.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 13
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
SUD now moves to apply its community sustainability goals and related objectives in the context of
considering alternatives to meet a new regulatory requirement. It must examine the nature of possible
impacts of the alternatives to select evaluation criteria with direct relevance to the alternatives under
consideration. To support the three objectives it has set in support of its sustainability goals, SUD works
with the community to identify criteria to evaluate alternatives relative to these objectives. The table
below provides the criteria that they select. These criteria are far from exhaustive relative to the
identified objectives and the alternatives under consideration. Under an actual alternatives analysis a
utility can anticipate having additional criteria for each objective.
Goal
Objective
Criteria
Improve community
livability
Create greater compatibility of utility
infrastructure with community
conditions.
Neighborhood aesthetic
impact
Improve energy
performance
Decrease million gallon (mg) energy
requirements by 20 percent over five
years.
Net electricity
consumption
Enhance ecosystem
function
Increase community stormwater
infiltration by 10 percent over three
years.
Permeable surface
impact
For additional information about determining criteria, refer to PLANNING ELEMENT 3 in Planning for
Sustainability: A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 14
STEP 3: Establishing the Metrics for Your
Selected Criteria
Under Step 2, your utility identified criteria associated with
the goals and objectives established during Step 1. In Step 3,
you will "build out" the criteria by creating a performance
basis for evaluating performance through criteria and means
of measurement using metrics for each criterion.
Each sustainability objective (Step 1) will be supported by
one or more evaluation criterion (Step 2), and each criterion
will be supported by a performance scale, which is used to
evaluate (score) each alternative under consideration.
Performance scales represent the different levels of
performance (outcomes or impacts) that can result from an
alternative. The performance scale constructed for each
criterion needs to apply across the full range of alternatives
under consideration (we will address this as part of Step 4).
You will likely use two basic means to measure performance:
direct measurement (when an obvious quantitative means is
available); and a constructed metric for inherently
qualitative criteria.
r	">
POSSIBLE REFINEMENTS:
CONVERTING NATURAL SCALES TO
CONSTRUCTED SCALES
When working with readily quantified
and measurable criteria such as those
measured in acres or kWh, you have
the option of making specific
performance estimates for each
alternative and then converting those
estimates into a more precise
constructed benefits scale. This
approach is referred to as
"normalizing" a direct measurement
metric to a common constructed
benefits scale score. It is covered in
Refinement 2 in Attachment C.
V.
Direct Measurement
Direct measurement is undertaken with criteria that can be readily quantified and measured. For example,
electricity consumption can be readily measured as kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, and permeable surface
impact can be readily measured in acres. In these cases, kWh and acres would be the metrics for each
criterion, respectively. When creating the performance scale, you will first select a desired, specific
performance metric, (e.g., acres, time, kWh, etc.), and then set a range that incorporates the anticipated
performance endpoints across all of the alternatives to be examined.
Constructed Measurement
Constructed measurement supports criteria that are qualitative in nature (e.g., aesthetic impacts) or criteria
for which your ability to provide precise quantitative performance estimates is constrained. Constructed
measurement can come in a variety of forms, but it can typically be well handled with a simple 0 to 5 or 0 to
10 scale. Essentially, constructed measurement is used to express qualitative criteria in a quantitative
manner to establish the ability to compare otherwise unlike performance characteristics of an alternative
(e.g., comparing an aesthetic impact to an ecosystem impact). Many criteria likely to be used by water

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 15
sector utilities have the potential for either positive or negative outcomes (for example, community
aesthetics might decrease or increase depending on the alternative selected). As a result, a minus five (-5) to
plus five (+5) constructed measurement approach can often serve your analysis well. Attributes of a good
constructed measurement include the following:
•	The measurement matches how precisely the criterion can be characterized.
•	The measurement corresponds to natural clusters or thresholds in the criteria that will make it
easier to rate an alternative.
•	The incremental benefit provided by moving up each level of the scale is the same (or very similar).
•	The range of the scale corresponds to the widest performance range possible of the alternatives
under consideration.
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
After establishing criteria related to each of its goals, SUD derives the following performance basis and
means of measurement for each of the identified criteria:
Goal
Objective
Criteria
Metric
(Means of Measurement)
Improve community
livability
Create greater compatibility of utility
infrastructure with community
conditions.
Neighborhood aesthetic
impact
Aesthetic compatibility index
Improve energy
performance
Decrease million gallon (mg) energy
requirements by 20 percent over five
years.
Net electricity
consumption
Kilowatt hours (kWh) per
month
Enhance ecosystem
function
Increase community stormwater
infiltration by 10 percent over three
years.
Permeable surface
impact
Acres of permeable surface
SUD is now ready to move to Step 4 and establish a common benefits scale for comparing its two
alternatives across these three criteria.

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 16
STEP 4: Create a Common Scale for Your
Criteria
Under Step 4, your utility will establish a consistent basis
for comparing the criteria to ensure the validity of the
aggregated benefit score for each alternative. Establishing
a standard benefits scale to compare criteria becomes
critical to achieving this outcome. Under Step 3, SUD
established three separate bases of measuring alternative
performance relative to the selected criteria: an aesthetic
compatibility index, kWh, and acres. These are not
directly comparable in their current form: they represent
trying to compare apples to oranges to bananas.
There are two key considerations when establishing the
comparable basis depending on the scales (direct or
constructed measures) developed for each criterion. First,
constructed measures used across all criteria are most
easily utilized if established on a consistent basis from the
outset. Second, when you have criteria using direct,
quantitative metrics to capture performance (e.g., net
kWh consumption), all of the metrics, along with any
constructed metrics, must be placed on a comparable
basis. The simplest, and most straight forward means to
provide this comparable basis, is to depict your direct
metrics on a consistent constructed metric basis from the
outset.
r	"n
POSSIBLE REFINEMENTS-
ADJUSTING FOR DIFFERENCES IN
BENEFITS
Performance outcomes along the
performance continuum associated with
any criteria might not reflect a linear,
stepwise increase in the benefits
provided. For example, you might
continue to derive enjoyment when
moving from one to two scoops of ice
cream, but by the time you've eaten ten
scoops, an eleventh probably will not be
that desirable. The same situation might
be in play with certain of your evaluation
criteria. If this is the case, the different
levels of the performance scale will
require an adjustment to calculate a truly
accurate representation of benefit. See
Refinement 3 in Attachment C for a
review of a method for addressing such
benefit situations.
V.
For most utilities, a minus 5 (-5) to plus five (+5) constructed benefit scale will accommodate the full range
of criteria. By including a negative and positive range, it reflects that a utility can experience both negative
and positive performance outcomes.
In this step, you simply establish the full range of anticipated performance of your full suite of alternatives
relative to each of your performance criteria. You will then assign the ranges of performance to the
constructed benefit scale. In the SUD example provided here, the performance metrics for each criterion
have a common minus five (-5) to plus five (+5) constructed benefits scale established and the anticipated
performance range for each criteria is divided into equal increments along the constructed scale.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 17
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
In Step 3, SUD established the following performance basis for each of the three sustainability criteria to be used for evaluating its alternatives:
•	Neighborhood aesthetic compatibility index for aesthetic impacts;
•	kWh per month for measuring net electricity impacts; and
•	Acres for measuring net permeable surface impacts.
Under Step 4, SUD decides to use a minus five (-5) to plus five (+5) constructed benefits scale to form a comparable performance evaluation basis. SUD's
next step is to decide the likely range of performance for each of the alternatives (to establish the end points for each criterion), and assign interim ranges
of performance to the increments of the minus five (-5) to plus five (+5) constructed scale. The constructed benefit scales for each of the criteria appear in
Attachment B; they are repeated here for easy reference.
•	For Aesthetics, SUD has creates a basic, and fairly subjective, qualitative index that ranges from "substantial aesthetic incompatibility" through "no
impact" and out to "substantial contribution to improved aesthetics," and assigns the endpoints at -5 and +5. By doing this, SUD translates a
qualitative performance basis into a quantitative index that will allow for comparability to other sustainability criteria. [Note that when addressing
inherently qualitative and subjective criteria, it is important to try to define or describe, through examples or other means, the basis for the
judgments that will be made. In this case, the example of an industrial facility placed in a residential neighborhood is used for this purpose.]
•	For Net Electricity Consumption, SUD has estimates that the likely end points of performance for the two alternatives is somewhere around plus or
minus 275,000 kWh per month; these become the end points of its -5 to +5 constructed benefits scale. SUD then assigns approximately equal
increments of net electricity consumption performance to each of the scale increments between -5 and +5. By doing this, SUD has translates an
easily measured, quite objective, direct performance basis (kWh) into a constructed benefit scale format allowing for direct comparability to the
aesthetics performance of alternatives.
•	For Permeable Surface Impact, SUD estimates the likely end points of performance for the two alternatives as somewhere around plus or minus 40
acres of net permeable surface impact. These plus or minus 40 acres become the end points for the -5 to +5 performance scale. And, as with net
electricity consumption, SUD assigns equal increments of net permeable surface impact to each of the constructed benefit scale increments of -5 to
+5. At this point, all three performance criteria have been placed on a fully comparable basis, and SUD is prepared to move to Step 5, where it will
evaluate each of the alternatives against these criteria.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 18
SMITHFIELD UTILITY D
[STRICT SCORING CRITERIA
Scoring:
-5
-4
-3
-2
-l
0
i
2
3
4
5
CRITERION:
Neighborhood
Aesthetic Impact
(METRIC:
Aesthetic
compatibility
index)
Alternative has
no
compatibility
with existing
location (e.g.,
industrial
above ground
structure
placed in
residential
neighborhood)




Alternative
does not alter
neighborhood
character (e.g.,
facilities
located
underground
or have a low
profile creating
no visual or
other aesthetic
impacts)




Alternative
enhances
neighborhood
character by
contributing
improved
visual
conditions
(e.g., green
infrastructure
alternative that
has tree
plantings)
CRITERION: Net
electricity
consumption
(METRIC: kWh)
Alternative
increases
plant's energy
consumption
by 226,000 to
275,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
increases
plant's energy
consumption
by 176,000 to
225,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
increases
plant's energy
consumption
by 126,000 to
175,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
increases
plant's energy
consumption
by 76,000 to
125,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
increases
plant's energy
consumption
by 26,000 to
75,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
impacts plant
energy
consumption
by an increase
of up to 25,000
kWh or
produces up to
25,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
produces
energy of
26,000 to
75,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
produces
energy of
76,000 to
125,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
produces
energy of
126,000 to
175,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
produces
energy of
176,000 to
225,000 kWh
per month
Alternative
produces
energy of
226,000 to
275,000 kWh
per month
CRITERION:
Permeable
surface impact
(METRIC: Acres)
Substantial
addition to
existing
impermeable
surfaces in the
community
(more than 50
acres of
impermeable
surface added)
Addition to
existing
impermeable
surfaces in the
community
(36-50 acres of
impermeable
surface added)
Addition to
existing
impermeable
surfaces in
the
community
(21-35 acres
of
impermeable
surface
added)
Addition to
existing
impermeable
surfaces in the
community
(11-20 acres of
impermeable
surface added)
Addition to
existing
impermeable
surfaces in
the
community
(1-10 acres of
impermeable
surface
added)
No change to
existing
impermeable
surface area
Decrease of
impermeable
surfaces from
existing
baseline (1-10
acres of
permeable
surface added)
Decrease of
impermeable
surfaces from
existing
baseline (11-20
acres of
permeable
surface added)
Decrease of
impermeable
surfaces from
existing
baseline (21-
35)acres of
permeable
surface added)
Decrease of
impermeable
surfaces from
existing
baseline (36-50
acres of
permeable
surface added)
Substantial
decrease of
impermeable
surfaces from
existing
baseline (more
than 50 acres
of new
permeable
surface)

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 19
STEP 5: Evaluate the Performance of Each
Alternative
In Step 4, you created a common performance
scale for all of your evaluation criteria. In this
step, you will assess each alternative relative to
its performance against each of the criteria. This
step should be familiar to any utility that has
conducted comparative analysis of alternatives
using conventional performance criteria such as
reliability, maintainability, and technical
performance. Essentially, you will be looking at
the design and performance parameters of the
alternatives to estimate the nature of the
impacts that can be expected relative to the
evaluation criteria.
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY
DISTRICT
By completing the previous steps, SUD has
prepared design parameters for its two
alternatives and now moves to characterize
performance for each of the evaluation criteria.
Alternative 1:
•	Livabilitv as Evaluated through Aesthetic Impacts: Alternative 1 involves an expansion of the
exiting SUD treatment plant, which will bring the facility's fence line and new above-ground
industrial structures within site distance of an existing neighborhood. In discussions with its
stakeholders, SUD concludes this represents a minor, negative aesthetic impact and assigns a
minus one (-1) aesthetics score to this alternative.
•	Energy Performance as Evaluated through Net Electricity Generation: Alternative 1 allows the
facility to introduce enhanced biogas to energy operations in conjunction with infrastructure
upgrades needed to meet new regulatory requirements. SUD expects this enhancement to
support 325,000 kWh per month in electricity production, and the overall project "nets out" at
250,000 kWh per month in additional electricity available to the plant (operation of the new
equipment requires 75,000 kWh per month in new electricity demand, thus the net figure of
325,000 kWh). This produces a scaled score of plus 5 (+5), because the "5" value covers a range of
net electricity production from 226,000 to 275,000 kWh.
^POSSIBLE REFINEMENTS:	^
PERFORMANCE UNCERTAINTY
Some uncertainly about the precise performance
an alternative can deliver is not uncommon, and in
the case where there is substantial (material)
uncertainly, an adjustment to the process for
deriving a benefit score is needed. Typically, the
same experts/stakeholders best positioned to rate
or establish performance for a given alternative
are also best positioned to estimate the
uncertainly of performance. Though many
methods for addressing uncertainly exist, a
relatively straightforward and common approach is
to derive an "expected value" (probability-
weighted outcome) for an alternative's
performance. This approach is covered in
Refinement 4 of Attachment C.
J


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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 20
•	Ecosystem Function as Evaluated through Net Permeable Surface: Alternative 1 requires
expanding the current treatment plant beyond its current footprint and into adjacent, open space
grassland. The design specifications for the new plant indicated a need for 9 additional acres of
space, essentially all of which will now become impermeable surface (paved surfaces, and
building/tank roofs). This impact produces a scaled score of minus 1 (-1), as the loss of 9 acres falls
in the 1 to 10 acres of added impermeable surface range.
Alternative 2:
•	Livabilitv as Evaluated through Aesthetic Impacts: Alternative 2 involves no expansion of the
exiting SUD treatment plant, and leaves all facilities well away from the existing neighborhood.
The plant has never received complaints about the appearance of its structures, and in presenting
this information to its stakeholders, SUD concludes that its existing structures do not have an
aesthetic impact on the existing neighborhood. As a result, SUD assigns a zero (0) as the aesthetics
score for this alternative.
•	Energy Performance as Evaluated through Net Electricity Generation: Alternative 2 seeks to make
the minimum necessary infrastructure upgrade investments to meet the new regulations. It does
not add any enhancements for purposes of generating electricity. The new treatment process will
require 70,000 kWh per month to operate (in addition to current plant monthly electricity
requirements). This additional electricity demand produces a scaled benefit score of minus 1 (-1),
as this alternative would increase the plant's monthly electricity requirements by between 26,000
and 75,000 kWh per month.
•	Ecosystem Function as Evaluated through Net Permeable Surface: Alternative 2 maintains the
treatment plant's existing footprint, but provides an opportunity to create green space within the
plant fence lines as old structures are replaced by structures with smaller footprints. The net
result of this conversion will be the addition of 11 acres of permeable surface, which produces a
benefits score of plus 2 (+2) for this alternative.
Criteria
Aesthetic Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable Surface
Impact
Alternative 1
-1
5
-1
Alternative 2
0
-1
2

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 21
STEP 6: Sum Performance Scores for Each
Alternative and Compare Alternatives
In Step 6, your utility will compare alternatives based on their performance, leading to a final decision on the
preferred alternative. If care has been taken in the previous steps to establish a consistent basis for
performance evaluation of each alternative across all selected criteria, this step becomes very straight
forward. The "total benefit score" of each alternative is merely the sum of each of the individual criterion
benefit scores.
We have not yet addressed the incorporation of costs into the alternatives analysis process. This is the point
at which you can decide to maintain the benefits scores as separate evaluation factors, or to combine the
benefit scores with the cost of the alternatives to derive a cost/non-monetized benefit calculation.
EXAMPLE: SMITHTOWN UTILITY DISTRICT
SUM PERFORMANCE SCORES
Under Step 5, SUD evaluated the performance of each alternative relative to the three criteria, and
assigned specific performance (benefits) scores to each. The aggregate benefit scores for the two
alternatives can now be calculated.
•	Alternative 1: Total Benefit Score = aesthetics (-1) + net electricity (+5) + net permeable surface (-
1) = +3
•	Alternative 2: Total Benefit Score = aesthetics (0) + net electricity (-1) + net permeable surface (+2)
= +1
Criteria
Aesthetic Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable Surface
Impact
Total Score
Alternative 1
-1
5
-1
3
Alternative 2
0
-1
2
1
COMPARE ALTERNATIVES
Treating all the criteria as equally weighted, Alternative 1 achieves the higher benefit score, and this score
is dependent on its very high performance relative to the net electricity performance basis. If cost was not
a factor (which is unlikely), SUD would select Alternative 1. However, cost, (as usual) is a key evaluative
aspect of SUD's analysis. The cost of Alternative 1 is $12 million, while the cost of Alternative 2 is $6
million, and both projects produce identical performance relative to the needed compliance with the new
regulations. With cost considered, Alternative 1 remains the preferred option. Alternative 1 has a
benefit/cost ratio of 3:12 (= 0.25); Alternative 2 has a benefit/cost ratio of 1:6 (= 0.17). Overall, the

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 22
alternative with the highest benefit/cost ratio is preferred. One way to think about this result is that
Alternative 1 requires an expenditure of $4 million for each benefit point, while Alternative 2 requires an
expenditure of $6 million for each benefit point.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 23
Conclusion
Having the capacity to compare a range of infrastructure alternatives objectively is critical to a water or
wastewater utility's long-term sustainability and its ability to serve the needs of its community. EPA
recognizes that conducting an alternatives analysis that incorporates nonconventional sustainability criteria
presents a challenge for many systems. Coupled with Planning for Sustainability: A Handbook for Water and
Wastewater Utilities, this document provides a strong starting point for a utility to take the sustainability
priorities of its community into account when doing long-term planning and making decisions about
infrastructure updates.
For additional resources and information on sustainable utility management for water and wastewater
utilities, please visit EPA's website: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/watereum.cfm.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 24
Attachment A: Potential Evaluation Criteria
Economic Criteria
Affordability
All-Hazards Resilience (e.g., flood or drought tolerance)
Disaster Recovery Prospects
Economic Development Opportunity
Green Business Development (e.g., creating green jobs, utilization of sustainable companies/materials)
Grayfield or Brownfield Impacts (e.g., potential to repurpose degraded or unused lands)
Local Economic Development
•	Local Employment Impact
o Community Workforce Skills and Capabilities
o Local Workforce Competitiveness
o Local Labor Use
•	Local Material Use
•	Local Supplier Use
Environmental Criteria
Air Quality
Ecosystem:
•	Biodiversity (e.g., preservation of biodiversity, restoration of biodiversity)
•	Ecosystem Functions and Services (e.g., preservation or restoration of ecosystem functions and
services)
•	Floodplain Functions
•	Green Space Preservation (e.g., preservation of habitat, riparian/aquatic areas, farmland, open
space)
•	Habitat Fragmentation/Integration (e.g., preservation of habitat connectivity or habitat restoration)
•	High Ecological Value Land
•	High Ecological Value Species
•	Impermeable Surface
•	Invasive Species (e.g., presence of exotic species, potential to introduce exotic species)
•	Land Disturbance

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 25
•	Prime Farmlands
•	Riparian and Aquatic Habitat
•	Sensitive Areas
•	Threatened/Endangered Species
•	Wetlands
Energy:
•	Energy Consumption
•	Energy Intensity (unit of energy per unit of gross domestic product, GPD, produced)
•	Energy Type (e.g., renewable)
•	Net Embodied Energy (sum of energy required to produce goods or services)
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Material:
•	Avoidance of Waste (requires the use of less overall material)
•	Reuse or Recycling of Materials
o Deconstruction (ability to recycle or reuse)
o Existing Structure and Materials Reuse
o Recycled Materials or Structure
o Sustainable materials sourcing
Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) (heat island effect)
Water:
•	Net Positive Water Generation (e.g., surface and groundwater replenishment or hydrologic
connection)
•	Potable Water Need Reduction
•	Stormwater Management (e.g., use of natural systems to capture, treat, or evapotranspire
stormwater runoff)
•	Water Loss
•	Water Quality (e.g., pollution reduction benefits)
•	Water Recycling Potential
•	Water Up-Cycling Potential (e.g., improve quality of water to expand the economic or ecosystem
value of the water)
Social Criteria
Community Impacts
• Aesthetics (e.g., viewscapes, obtrusive lighting, glare)

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 26
•	Business/Residential Access During Construction
•	Historic and Cultural Resources
•	Livability/Desirability
•	Noise
•	Odor
•	Traffic Congestion
•	Vibration
•	Working Lands (e.g., addition or preservation of working lands, such as farms or managed forests)
Community Design Consistency
Community Infrastructure Integration Potential
Educational Opportunities
Non-motorized and Public Transit Mobility and Access
Public Art
Public Awareness (e.g., of the value of water and wastewater services)
Public Engagement Potential
Public Space (e.g., waterfront access)
Safety Risks
Urban Sprawl (e.g., use of smart growth principles, potential to promote or discourage sprawl)

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 27
Attachment B: Key Considerations for Selected
Sample Analysis Criteria
Attachment B includes examples of how criteria can be built out to include scoring on a -5 to +5 scale. Each
example also includes impact areas, performance metrics, resources, evaluative questions, and example
assessments. This section includes example build-outs of the following criteria:
Aesthetic Impacts
Page
28
Ecosystem Impacts
Page
30
Educational Opportunities
Page
32
Energy Impacts
Page
34
Greenhouse Gas Impacts
Page
36
Public Space Impacts
Page
38
The elements of each example include:
POTENTIAL IMPACT AREAS: Illustrate what types of environmental, social, or economic impacts the criteria
could affect. Identifying impact areas for each criterion will help the utility to understand why the criterion is
important, and to think through what could be measured to determine a score for the criterion.
EXAMPLE PERFORMANCE METRICS: Examples of what could be measured for each criterion. Performance
metrics would be used in establishing performance baselines, objectives, and alternative scoring.
RESOURCES: Short list of resources to help think through evaluating each criterion.
EVALUATIVE QUESTIONS: Example questions for each criterion to help the utility think about what could be
measured, how it could be scored, and other assessments to consider.
EXAMPLE ASSESSMENTS: Show how the criterion can be used to score an alternative on a -5 to +5 scale
related to a given sustainability goal. Some criteria do not include explanations or defined performance
ranges for each score; this is an acceptable method, and is called an "arrayed" scale. Other criteria do not
include negative values; this is also acceptable if an alternative cannot produce a negative result.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 28
Aesthetic Impacts
Utility investments can have an impact on the community's aesthetic composition, including
enhancing or degrading the character of a neighborhood, blocking or enhancing views, or adding
industrial structures that are either fitting with the character of or are out of place in, a
neighborhood. This criterion supports evaluating the inherent aesthetic impacts of a project
alternative separate from any consideration of mitigation measures that could be used to reduce
undesirable effects. For example, the community could construct an aesthetic compatibility index to
rate alternatives.
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Partially or completely blocked views.
•	Addition of unattractive fencing or other barriers.
•	Inconsistency between infrastructure aesthetics and neighborhood character.
•	Contrast between natural features and infrastructure.
Example Performance Metrics:
•	Sight distance (linear yards or feet) from alternative to homes, commercial buildings, or
main streets
•	Exposure (number of people per day expected to be exposed to view of alternative)
•	Degree of neighborhood character compatibility (e.g., high, medium, low)
Resources:
•	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Aesthetics of Low Impact Development. Describes
how low impact development technologies can benefit a community's visual environment.
http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/green/upload/bbfs4aesthetics.pdf
•	Florida Department of Transportation. Aesthetic Effects Evaluation. Evaluation sheet to
assess a project's compatibility with the existing physical character and aesthetic values of
the affected community.
http://www.dot.state.fl.us/emo/pubs/sce/AestheticEffectsEvalSheet-2012-1206.pdf
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
What aesthetic resources exist within
the community? (e.g., natural areas,
architectural highlights)
What is the general character of the
neighborhood or viewshed where the
infrastructure will be added or
modified?
Are the visual characteristics of the
proposed infrastructure obviously
different from the characteristics of the
surrounding area?
Will the project be clearly visible,
partially visible, or hidden when it is
complete?
Will the project open new access to or
create new scenic views or vistas?
Adapted from USF CUTR: http://cutr.usf.edu

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Makinj | Page 29
• University of South Florida Center for Urban Transportation Research. Aesthetics and Livability. Provides an overview of
how to assess the visual impacts of construction projects within a community. http://www.cutr.usf.edu/pubs/CIA/Chapter 8.pdf
Example Assessments:
Goal: Im
Criterio
Metric:
prove aesthe
n: Neighbor!"
ndex of com
!tics
lood compatibility
patibility
Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative has
no
compatibility
with existing
location (e.g.,
industrial
above ground
structure
placed in
residential
neighborhood)




Alternative
does not alter
neighborhood
character
(e.g., facilities
located
underground
or have a low
profile
creating no
visual or other
aesthetic
impacts)




Alternative
enhances
neighborhood
character by
contributing
improved
visual
conditions
(e.g., green
infrastructure
alternative
that has tree
plantings)
Goal: Improve aesthetics
Criterion: Sight distance
Metric: Distance from residentia
or commercial developments
Scoring
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative
clearly visible
from
commercial or
residential
developments
(located
within 20
yards)
Alternative is
located 21-100
yards away
from
commercial or
residential
developments
Alternative is
located 101-
200 yards away
from
commercial or
residential
developments
Alternative is
located 201-
350 yards away
from
commercial or
residential
developments
Alternative is
located 350-500
yards away from
commercial or
residential
developments
Alternative is
located 500-
600 yards away
from
commercial or
residential
developments

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 30
Ecosystem Impacts
Utility operations and infrastructure choices can influence or impact surrounding ecosystems by
affecting ecological structure, key ecological features, or changing the makeup of the ecosystem as a
result of land use, construction, or discharge practices. This criterion supports evaluating project
alternative performance relative to ecosystem effects addressing such areas as impermeable surface
changes, habitat extent or alteration, and species diversity.
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Ecosystem structure (e.g., key habitats, habitat pattern, habitat connectivity, impermeable
surfaces, complexity of ecosystem).
•	Ecosystem functions (e.g., hydrologic processes/water cycle, flood plain functions, sediment
processes, nutrient cycling, water purification).
•	Species and food webs (e.g., diversity and extent of key species; population dynamics of key
species; and biotic interactions that form and maintain communities of native species).
Example Units of Measure:
•	Area (e.g., acres):
o Habitat protected or eliminated,
o Food production land protected or eliminated,
o Impermeable surfaces added or eliminated,
o Native plant communities protected, added, or eliminated.
•	Length (e.g., linear feet, yards, or miles):
o Length of affected streambed.
o Length of continuous wildlife corridor created or eliminated.
Resources:
•	U.S. Geological Survey. Effects of Urban Development on Stream Ecosystems in Nine
Metropolitan Study Areas Across the United States. Discusses the challenges of urban
development and the impact of such development on stream ecosystems.
http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1373/pdf/Circularl373.pdf
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
What is the baseline (starting)
condition for the ecosystem impact
being evaluated? (Baseline can be
measured against starting point
immediately before implementation of
alternative, or against historical
averages)
What are the direct and indirect
impacts of each alternative (e.g., a
point source of pollution could have
direct impacts at the discharge point
and indirect impacts downstream)
Is this ecosystem service or habitat
type already in short supply relative to
demand?
Where do critical habitat and other
sensitive ecosystem areas exist within
the community?
Adapted from WRI: www.wri.org

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 31
World Resources Institute. Weaving Ecosystem Services into Impact Assessment Outlines a methodology for integrating
ecosystem services into impact assessments to analyze a project's immediate and long-term impacts (free download).
http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/weaving ecosystem services into impact assessment.pdf
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Considering Ecological Processes in Environmental Impact Assessments. Guidance for the incorporation of
ecological considerations into the preparation and review of environmental impact assessments.
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/nepa/ecological-processes-eia-pg.pdf
Example Assessments:
Goal: Improve ecosystems









Criterion: Permeable surface impact








Metric: Acres










Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Substantial
Addition to
Addition to
Addition to
Addition to
No change to
Decrease of
Decrease of
Decrease of
Decrease of
Substantial

addition to
existing
existing
existing
existing
existing
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
decrease of

existing
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
surfaces from
surfaces from
surfaces from
surfaces from
impermeable

impermeable
surfaces in
surfaces in the
surfaces in the
surfaces in the
surface area
existing
existing
existing
existing
surfaces from

surfaces in the
the
community
community
community (1-

baseline (1-10
baseline (11-
baseline (21-
baseline (36-
existing

community
community
(21-35 acres of
(11-20 acres
10 acres of

acres of
20 acres of
35) acres of
50 acres of
baseline

(more than 50
(36-50 acres
impermeable
of
impermeable

permeable
permeable
permeable
permeable
(more than 50

acres of
of
surface added)
impermeable
surface

surface
surface
surface
surface
acres of new

impermeable
impermeable

surface
added)

added)
added)
added)
added)
permeable

surface added)
surface
added)

added)






surface)
Goal: Improve ecosystems









Criterion: Habitat connectivity









Metric: Acres










Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Substantial
Decrease in
Decrease in
Decrease in
Decrease in
No change to
Increase in
Increase in
Increase in
Increase in
Substantial

impact to
habitat
habitat
habitat
habitat
existing
habitat
habitat
habitat
habitat
increase in

habitat
connectivity
connectivity
connectivity
connectivity
habitat
connectivity
connectivity
connectivity
connectivity
habitat

connectivity
from existing
from existing
from existing
from existing
connectivity
from existing
from existing
from existing
from existing
connectivity

(more than 500
baseline
baseline (201-
baseline (101-
baseline (50-

baseline (50-
baseline (101-
baseline (201-
baseline (351-
(more than

yards of
(351-500
250 yards of
200 yards of
100 yards of

100 yards of
200 yards of
350 yards of
500 yards of
500 yards of

connective
yards of
connective
connective
connective

connective
connective
connective
connective
connective

corridor
connective
corridor
corridor
corridor

corridor
corridor
corridor
corridor
corridor

eliminated)
corridor
eliminated)
eliminated)
eliminated)

added)
added)
added)
added)
added)


eliminated)










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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 32
Educational Opportunities
Utility project alternatives might or might not be inherently conducive to informing and educating
the public about the value of water and the essential service water and wastewater systems provide
to their communities. This criterion supports evaluating how conducive a project alternative will be
to conveying these and related messages through ready access to and interactivity with the location,
posting of educational signage, tour opportunities, or other messaging opportunities.
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Ready visual access for posted signs or other forms of visual media (explicit messaging
opportunities).
•	Ready access to experiential or service learning opportunities (implicit messaging
opportunities).
Example Units of Measure:
•	Accessibility (scale from open to closed, by days or hours).
•	Traffic/exposure (measure in number of people per day exposed to alternative).
•	Means of communication (scale from multiple opportunities to communicate, such as
interactive tours, to static communication opportunities, such as signs, to no new
communication opportunities).
•	Level of interactivity (scale from passive observation to fully interactive).
Resources:
•	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Service Learning: Learning by Doing. Describes the
concept of service learning and how students can be engaged in environmental education
through service learning, http://www.epa.gov/osw/education/pdfs/svclearn.pdf
•	Water Research Center. Moorhead Environmental Complex Educational Signage. Includes
copies of the educational signs placed around the Moorhead Environmental Complex.
http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/green/upload/bbfs4aesthetics.pdf
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
Does the alternative present an
inherent public education message?
(e.g., publicly visible green
infrastructure can send an implied
sustainability message)
Is there existing educational signage or
material that can be updated or more
clearly displayed at utility facilities?
Is educational signage easily visible
and located in high traffic areas?
Does the utility share infrastructure or
other assets with another municipal
department, presenting a joint
education opportunity?
Can public access (e.g., public
walkways or tour viewpoints) be
included in the plans for the
alternative?

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 33
• Ryerson University. Best Practices in Experiential Learning. Provides an overview of best practices in experiential learning, including
types of experiential learning and how to incorporate experiential learning activities.
http://www.rverson.ca/content/dam/lt/resources/handouts/ExperientialLearningReport.pdf
Example Assessments:
Goal: Enhance or create educational opportunities
Criterion: Accessibility
Metric: Closed vs. open to public
Scoring
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative is
not accessible
to public
Alternative is
open to public
for tours by
appointment
one day per
week during
limited hours
Alternative is
open to public
for tours by
appointment
two days per
week during
limited hours
Alternative is
open to public
for tours by
appointment
three days per
week during
limited hours
Alternative is
open to public
for tours by
appointment
four days per
week during
limited hours
Alternative is
open to public
for tours by
appointment
five days per
week during
limited hours

Goal: Enhance or Create educational Opportunities
Criterion: Accessibility
Metric: Number of viewers per day
Scoring
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative is
not visible to
the public
Alternative is
expected to
be viewed by
no more than
10 members
of the public
per week
Alternative is
expected to
be viewed by
11-20
members of
the public per
week
Alternative is
expected to
be viewed by
21-30
members of
the public per
week
Alternative is
expected to
be viewed by
31-40
members of
the public per
week
Alternative is
expected to
be viewed by
41-50
members of
the public per
week

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 34
Energy Impacts
Water and wastewater utilities are highly energy-intensive, and project alternatives will exhibit
differences in their energy requirements and their potential for ongoing contribution to energy
optimization for the utility system. This criterion supports evaluating the comparative energy
performance (use or production) of project alternatives.
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Energy consumed.
•	Energy produced.
•	Energy efficiency.
Example Performance Metrics:
•	Energy in kilowatt hours (kWh).
•	Energy in thermal megawatts (MWt or MWth).
•	Energy in megawatts (MW) or megawatt hours (MWh).
•	Energy in therms.
•	Percentage of overall energy requirements (e.g., reduced utility's energy requirements by 20
percent, or, generated 30 percent of all energy consumed by utility)
Resources:
•	Focus on Energy. Water & Wastewater Industry Energy Best Practice Guidebook. Provides
guidance for energy use evaluation and energy management best practices in the utility
setting.
https://focusonenergy.com/sites/default/files/waterandwastewater guidebook.pdf
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
Does the alternative offer
opportunities for energy
improvements such as biogas
utilization equipment, effluent heat
recovery, low-energy dewatering, or
deammonificationfor side stream
treatment?
Do local landscape features or climate
conditions present opportunities for
energy capture or generation?
Does the alternative present an
opportunity to optimize the energy
consumption of an existing process or
piece of equipment (i.e., increase
energy efficiency)?
• U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Efficiency Program Impact Evaluation Guide. Provides guidance for evaluating and measuring impact for energy
efficiency programs, http://wwwl.eere.energy.gov/seeaction/pdfs/emv ee program impact guide.pdf

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Makinj | Page 35
•	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities: A Guide to Developing and
Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs. Describes the benefits of energy efficiency in water and wastewater facilities,
as well as methods for achieving those benefits, http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/documents/pdf/wastewater-guide.pdf
•	Water Environment Federation. Energy Roadmap: Driving Water and Wastewater Utilities to More Sustainable Energy Management. A series of
steps to help wastewater utilities plan and implement a wastewater energy program.
http://www.werf.Org/c/KnowledgeAreas/Energy/Latest News/2012/10152012 WEF Energy Roadmap.aspx
Example Assessments:
Goal: Reduce net energy impact
Criterion: Energy consumption/
Metric: Percentage of plant enerj
production
^y requirements
Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative
increases
plant's
electricity
requirements
by more than
50%
Alternative
increases
plant's
electricity
requirements
by 31-50%
Alternative
increases
plant's
electricity
requirements
by 16-30%
Alternative
increases
plant's
electricity
requirements
by 6-15%
Alternative
increases
plant's
electricity
requirements
by 1-5%
Alternative
has no impact
on plant
energy
consumption
or production
Alternative
produces
electricity to
cover 1-5% of
plant's energy
requirements
Alternative
produces
electricity to
cover 6-15%
of plant's
energy
requirements
Alternative
produces
electricity to
cover 16-30%
of plant's
energy
requirements
Alternative
produces
electricity to
cover 31-50%
of plant's
energy
requirements
Alternative
produces
electricity to
cover more
than 50% of
plant's energy
requirements
Goal: Reduce net energy consumption








Criterion: Energy consumption/production








Metric: Ki
owatt hours fkWh]









Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative

increases
increases
increases
increases
increases
impacts plant
produces
produces
produces
produces
produces

plant's energy
plant's
plant's energy
plant's energy
plant's energy
energy
energy of
energy of
energy of
energy of
energy of

consumption
energy
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
26,000 to
76,000 to
126,000 to
176,000 to
226,000 to

by 226,000 to
consumption
by 126,000 to
by 76,000 to
by 26,000 to
by an increase
75,000 kWh
125,000 kWh
175,000 kWh
225,000 kWh
275,000 kWh

275,000 kWh
by 176,000 to
175,000 kWh
125,000 kWh
75,000 kWh
of up to
per month
per month
per month
per month
per month

per month
225,000 kWh
per month
per month
per month
25,000 kWh







per month



or produces











up to 25,000











kWh per











month






-------
Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 36
Greenhouse Gas Impacts
Water sector utilities, as large energy users, contribute to GHG emissions through fossil fuel and
electricity-based energy use, as well as through methane and nitrous oxide emissions from operations
like digesters. This criterion supports the evaluation of project alternatives from the standpoint of
their impact on such areas as increased energy efficiency (a leading way utilities can reduce GHG
emissions), better-optimized operations to reduce methane or nitrous oxide emissions, use of biogas
for energy production (e.g., combined heat and power), and handling and disposition of biosolids.
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Direct emissions (onsite):
o Reduce or avoid methane (CH4) emissions through treatment in aerobic, rather than
anaerobic, conditions,
o Capture of CH4 produced during treatment under anaerobic conditions.
•	Indirect emissions (offsite):
o Emissions resulting from consumption of energy produced offsite.
•	Offset by providing renewable energy credits.
Example Performance Metrics:
•	TonsofC02.
•	TonsofCH4.
•	TonsofN20.
•	Tons of C02 equivalent (C02e).
•	Million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTC02e).
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
Where does the utility's power come
from? Produced on-site or off-site?
How much CO2 is emitted at this
power source as a result of each
kilowatt hour of energy consumed?
Does the proposed alternative offer an
opportunity for the reduction of energy
consumption, which would reduce the
plant's greenhouse gas emissions?
Does the proposed alternative offer an
opportunity to capture methane or
another greenhouse gas for reuse (e.g.,
in offsite energy generation)?
Resources:
•	Global Methane Initiative. Municipal Wastewater Methane: Reducing Emissions, Advancing Recovery and Use Opportunities. Describes the role of
wastewater in methane emissions, benefits of methane capture, abatement, recovery, and use opportunities.
https://www.globalmethane.org/documents/ww fs eng.pdf
•	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities: A Guide to Developing and
Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs. Describes the benefits of energy efficiency in water and wastewater facilities

-------
Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 37
(including GHG emission reductions), and provides methods for achieving those benefits.
http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/documents/pdf/wastewater-guide.pdf
• U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager: Methodology for Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Tracking Calculations.
Methodology for measuring the direct (on-site) and indirect (off-site) greenhouse gas emissions of a building.
https://portfoliomanager.energystar.gov/pdf/reference/Emissions.pdf
Example Assessments:
Goal: Reduce net greenhouse gas impact








Criterion:
Direct emissions - methane (CH4)








Metric: Tons of CH4










Scoring
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative

increases
increases
increases
increases
increases
has no impact
reduces
reduces
reduces
reduces
reduces

treatment
treatment
treatment
treatment
treatment
on methane
treatment
treatment
treatment
treatment
treatment

plant's
plant's
plant's
plant's
plant's
emissions
plant's
plant's
plant's
plant's
plant's

methane
methane
methane
methane
methane

methane
methane
methane
methane
methane

emissions by
emissions by
emissions by
emissions by
emissions by

emissions by
emissions by
emissions by
emissions by
emissions by

more than 50
25-50 tons
10-25 tons per
3-10 tons per
1-3 tons per

1-3 tons per
3-10 tons per
10-25 tons per
25-50 tons per
more than 50

tons per
per month
month
month
month

month
month
month
month
tons per

month









month
Goal: Reduce net greenhouse gas impact








Criterion:
Indirect emissions - carbon dioxide (CO2)







Metric: CO2 emissions resulting from energy
consumption






Scoring
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative

increases
increases
increases
increases
increases
has no impact
reduces
reduces
reduces
reduces
reduces

energy
energy
energy
energy
energy
on energy
energy
energy
energy
energy
energy

consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption
consumption

by more than
by 26-40%
by 16-25%
by 6-15% over
by 1-5% over

by 1-5% over
by 6-15% over
by 16-25%
by 26-40%
by more than

40% over
over previous
over previous
previous
previous

previous
previous
over previous
over previous
40% over

previous
option,
option,
option,
option,

option,
option,
option,
option,
previous

option,
increasing
increasing
increasing
increasing

reducing
reducing
reducing
reducing
option,

increasing
indirect C02
indirect C02
indirect C02
indirect C02

indirect C02
indirect C02
indirect C02
indirect C02
reducing

indirect C02
emissions
emissions
emissions
emissions

emissions
emissions
emissions
emissions
indirect C02

emissions









emissions

-------
Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 38
Public Space Impact
Utility operations can affect public spaces through the type and location of facilities or (gray or
green) infrastructure. This criterion supports evaluation of: 1) direct impacts on public spaces such as
waterfront areas, green spaces, parks, or other public gathering places by increasing or decreasing
access, quality, or availability, and 2) opportunities created when the project alternative is conducive
to creating or enhancing existing public spaces through creative utilization of land resources (e.g.,
creating a park when covering a finished water reservoir).
Potential Impact Areas:
•	Parks.
•	Green spaces.
•	Open spaces.
•	Waterfront access.
•	Recreational facilities.
•	Brownfield repurposing.
•	Other community spaces (e.g., community centers).
Example Units of Measure:
•	Acres (e.g., park space, green space, open space).
•	Square footage (e.g., recreational facilities or community space).
•	Linear feet or yards (e.g., waterfront access).
•	Person-days or person-hours (e.g., number of people per day using recreational space).
Resources:
•	American Planning Association. Great Places. Discusses how the decisions made by
planners influence the quality of neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces.
https://www.planning.org/greatplaces/
Evaluative Questions to
Consider
Does the space accommodate multiple
activities? What purpose does it serve
for the surrounding community?
Where is the space located, and what is
the setting (e.g., downtown, city
center, waterfront, neighborhood)?
What activities make the space
attractive to people and encourage
community interaction (e.g., special
events, commerce, entertainment,
recreation)?
Is there a sense of cultural or historical
significance about the space?
Does the alternative's locationfall
within or complement a
comprehensive regional development
plan that accounts for future growth?
Adapted from the American Planning
Association: www.plannina.ora

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 39
• Project for Public Spaces. What Makes a Successful Place? A nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to
helping create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Resources include an evaluation of what makes a
successful public place, http://www.pps.org/reference/grplacefeat/
Example Assessments:
Goal: Enhance public space









Criterion: Park space relative to baseline of park space acreage






Performance Scale: Area of park space in acreage







Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative
Alternative

impacts or
impacts or
impacts or
impacts or
impacts or
does not
adds up to 5
adds 5-10
adds 10-25
adds 25-50
adds more

eliminates
eliminates
eliminates 10-
eliminates 5-
eliminates up
change the
acres of park
acres of park
acres of park
acres of park
than 50 acres

more than
25-50 acres
25 acres of
10 acres of
to 5 acres of
number of
space within
space within
space within
space within
of park space

50 acres of
of park space
park space
park space
park space
acres of park
the
the
the
the
within the

park space
within the
within the
within the
within the
space
community.
community.
community.
community.
community.

within the
community.
community.
community.
community.
available to






community.




the
community.





Goal: Enhance public space




Criterion: Public use of community recreational space



Metric: Person hours
(time spent using recreational space")



Scoring
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5

Alternative

Alternative


Alternative

Alternative


Alternative

causes a

causes a


does not

causes a


causes a

significant

marginal


change the

marginal


significant

decrease in

decrease in


amount of

increase in the


increase in the

the amount

the amount of


time spent by

amount of


amount of

of time

time spent by


community

time spent by


time spent by

spent by

community


members

community


community

community

members


using

members


members

members

using


recreational

using


using

using

recreational


facilities

recreational


recreational

recreational

facilities




facilities


facilities

facilities











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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 40
Attachment C: Refining Your Analysis -
Optional Additional Steps
The refinements in this section represent opportunities for more in depth analytical methods for those
who are interested in going beyond the basic analysis described in the main body of this guide. The
refinements are linked to specific steps in the analysis and are independent of each other: You can
choose to incorporate one of them, a few of them or all of them, depending on the needs of your
specific conditions.
REFINEMENT I: Accommodating the Difference in the Relative
Importance of Sustainability Goals (Related to step 2)
As your utility, potentially engaging with your community, considers and identifies sustainability goals,
you might find that certain goals should carry more "weight." Essentially, there might be a stronger
preference for delivering performance on some goals relative to others. For example, if your utility and
community identify energy performance, ecosystem function improvements, and livability
improvements as its sustainability goals, interest in improved ecosystem function performance might be
stronger relative to energy performance and livability improvements. Such situations are not at all
unusual.
Under such circumstances, your analysis can use a basic weighting scheme to reflect these preferences.
The process of weighting determines the relative contribution of each goal (and ultimately the criteria
selected for evaluating alternatives) to the aggregate benefit score for each alternative. These weights
can have a substantial impact on the results of the alternatives analysis. In addition, establishing these
weights can prove to be among the most challenging aspects of working with a community during
alternatives analysis, because the preferences (and therefore the weights) are often very dependent on
the perspectives of individual stakeholders.
You can use many methods to establish relative weights, ranging from simple to highly complex. The
more complex methods break the ranking process into smaller and smaller steps with the participants
establishing the weights asked very specific questions about their preferences. Here we provide one of
the more straightforward methods, direct estimation.
Direct estimation requires a single step and asks stakeholder participants to consider all the identified
goals and compare them to each other by providing a rank. Although you can use a variety of scales, an
easily comprehended approach is the use of a ten point ranking system, with each goal assigned a value
of between 1 and 10. It is important to maintain, to the greatest extent possible, a 1:1 relationship
between the sense of relative importance of the goal and its ranking. For example, if the livability goal is
considered twice as important as the ecosystem function goal, and the livability goal is considered,
overall, to be most important, then a ranking of 10 for livability and of 5 for ecosystem function would
be appropriate.

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 41
The primary benefit of this technique is its simplicity and understandability. Major drawbacks are that it
can be less reliable than more complex methods and it might provide less transparency into the specific
reasoning behind the ranking. Once the ranking of each goal has been established, that weight (for
example, 5 for ecosystem function) is applied mathematically as part of deriving the overall benefit
score for each alternative.
EXAMPLE:
During Step 2 in the main guide, Smithtown Utility District selected in consultation with its community
three sustainability goals and established an individual performance criterion for each: aesthetic impacts
(for community livability); net electricity consumption (for energy performance); and permeable surface
impact (for ecosystem function). SUD's two alternatives will be evaluated, in part, based on
performance against these criteria. The table below provides an un-weighted and a weighted
approached to scoring. Table 1(a) treats all three evaluation criteria as equivalent; the raw constructed
scale scores for each alternative for each criterion are merely summed to produce the Total Benefit
Score for each. Table 1(b) reflects the use of different weights, using a 1 to 10 basis, for the individual
criteria. In this case, aesthetic impact is considered the most important (receiving a weight of 10), and
net electricity consumption and permeable surface impact are each weighed equivalently (receiving
weights of 5) and as half as important as aesthetic impacts. The benefits calculation incorporates the
weights by multiplying the raw scale score by the assigned weight.
TABLE 1(a)
Criteria
Aesthetic Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable
Surface Impact
Total Score
Alternative 1
-1
5
-1
3
Alternative 2
0
-1
2
1
TABLE 1(b)
Criteria
Aesthetic
Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable Surface
Impact
Total Score
Weight
10
5
5

Alternative 1
Raw Score x Weight
-1x10 = -10
5x5=25
-1x5 = -5
10
Alternative 2
Raw Score x Weight
0x10 = 0
-1x5 = - 5
2x5= 10
5

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 42
REFINEMENT 2: Placing Direct Measures on a Comparable Basis (Related
to Step 3)
To compare any individual direct measure (quantitative) performance scale, you must "normalize" it to a
common scale, and if the analysis is using a constructed scale of -5 to +5 for all constructed scale criteria,
this scale would be used as the basis for normalizing. Under Step 4 in the main body of the text, net
electricity generation (in kWh) and net permeable surface (in acres) were placed on a common -5 to +5
scale for comparability with each other, and for comparability with aesthetic impacts. This refinement
supports two types of adjustments:
•	A more precise conversion of direct, quantified performance to a constructed scale,
and/or
•	The basis for placing two or more quantified criteria with different performance metrics onto a
common benefits scale.
Note that the normalization formula provided below can be used to create a comparable basis for any
benefits scale selected. For example, performance measured in kWh and acres of permeable surface can
be placed on a 0 to 10, or 0 to 100, scale using the method provided here. However, because the main
body of the guide suggests using a -5 to +5 scale, that scale is used in the example below.
To create a common basis among different performance metrics, a basic normalization formula is used:
Scaled Value
/ Alternative's Performance Value — Lowest Actual Raw Performance Value \
\ Highest Actual Raw Performance Value — Lowest Actual Raw Performance Value)
x Highest Value for the Constructed Scale
This formula works by calculating a scaled value from 0 to 1 and then normalizing this value to the same
range as that used for the constructed scale(s). The use of a constructed scale that has both a negative
and positive range (in this case -5 to +5), as in the main body of this guide, creates one wrinkle in the use
of this formula. When normalizing in such a context, the Lowest Actual Raw Performance Value used in
the formula will be zero (0), and any calculations for Actual Raw Performance Values that carry a
negative sign, will incorporate those values into the formula using a positive sign. Once the result is
obtained (e.g., a positive 1), a negative sign will be assigned to it. (See example below)
EXAMPLE:
For Alternatives 1 and 2, conversion from specific kWh performance data to the -5 to +5 constructed
scale being used across all criteria would involve the following.
•	Alternative 1 produces a net, positive energy outcome of +250,000 kWh per month. This is
Alternative l's actual raw performance score. Between the two alternatives, it is the highest
actual raw performance score.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 43
•	Alternative 2 produces a net, negative energy outcome of -70,000 kWh per month. This is
Alternative 2's actual raw performance score, while the raw performance score used for
converting to the constructed scale will be +70,000 kWh.
•	The calculation for Alternative 1 is: (250,000 kWh - 0 kWh/250,000 kWh - 0 kWh) X 5 = 5,
where:
o 250,000 kWh in the numerator is Alternative l's actual raw performance score;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the numerator is the lowest actual performance value;
o 250,000 kWh in the denominator is the highest actual raw value;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the denominator is the lowest actual performance value; and
o 5 is the highest constructed scale value.
•	The calculation for Alternative 2 is: (70,000 kWh - 0 kWh/250,000 kWh - 0 kWh) X 5 = 1.4 (with
this constructed scale result acquiring a negative sign (-1.4) to reflect the fact that the original
raw value score (-70,000 kWh) was negative), where:
o 70,000 kWh in the numerator is Alternative 2's actual raw performance score (but given
a positive sign);
o 0 kWh (zero) in the numerator is the lowest actual performance value;
o 250,000 kWh in the denominator is the highest actual raw value;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the denominator is the lowest actual performance value; and
o 5 is the highest constructed scale value.

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 44
REFINEMENT 3: Adjusting for Differences in Benefits (Related to Step 4)
Performance outcomes along the continuum of any measurement scale might not reflect a linear, stepwise increase (or decrease) in the benefits
provided. The "Law of Diminishing Returns" is one reflection of such a situation. Diminishing returns refers to the outcome where an additional
unit of performance beyond a certain level no longer provides the same rate or benefit (marginal utility) as previous performance improvement
increments. For example, you might continue to derive enjoyment when moving from one to two scoops of ice cream, but by the time you've
eaten ten, an eleventh probably will not be so desirable. The same outcome may be in play with certain of your evaluation criteria. If this is the
case, the different levels of the performance scale will require an adjustment to calculate a truly accurate representation of benefit. There are
sophisticated mathematical methods for deriving marginal utility; however, non-linear benefits adjustments can also be made by simply
translating the linear raw score scale into a Benefits Adjusted Scale reflective of the interests and perspectives provided by community members
or technical experts.
EXAMPLE:
The table on the next page provides the raw score scaling for the permeable surface impacts of alternatives as presented in Step 4 of the main
text. The initial constructed scale is essentially linear, with the constructed scale score reflecting equal increments of change in the amount of
permeable surface affected by an alternative with a corresponding 1 benefit point increase or decrease. The benefits adjusted scale indicates,
however, that the community and/or utility wishes to reflect three distinct aspects of the loss or gain of permeable surface:
(1)	Even low levels of permeable surface losses raise substantial concern for members of the community, and they wish to substantially
penalize alternatives that lead to any amount of permeable surface loss. This is reflected by, for example, converting the -2 raw score
associated with the loss of between 11 and 20 acres of permeable surface to a -3.5 benefits adjusted score. This creates additional -1.5
benefits score "penalty" for this level of permeable surface loss.
(2)	Initial gains of permeable surface are valued more highly than later gains. This is reflected, for example, when converting the +2 raw
score associated with the gain of between 11 and 20 acres to a +3 benefits adjusted score. This change reflects an incremental benefits
adjusted score increase of 1.0 (from 2.0 to 3.0). This preference is further reflected in the incremental benefit between the raw scores of
4 and 5, while the benefits adjusted scores are 4.5 and 5.0, respectively (a 0.5 point increase in benefit).
(3)	A loss of low levels of permeable surface is of greater concern than the desirability of adding low levels of additional permeable surface.
This is reflected in the -2 benefits points assigned to the first increment of permeable surface loss (loss between 1 and 10 acres), and the
1.5 benefits points assigned to the first increment of permeable surface gain (gain between 1 and 10 acres).

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 45
CRITERION:
Substantial
Addition to
Addition to
Addition to
Addition to
No change to
Decrease of
Decrease of
Decrease of
Decrease of
Substantial
Permeable
addition to
existing
existing
existing
existing
existing
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
decrease of
Qnnaro Imnart
existing
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
impermeable
surfaces from
surfaces from
surfaces from
surfaces from
impermeable
jUI late llll|JaLl
impermeable
surfaces in the
surfaces in
surfaces in the
surfaces in
surface area
existing
existing
existing
existing
surfaces from
(Metric: Acres)
surfaces in the
community
the
community
the

baseline (1-10
baseline (11-20
baseline (21-
baseline (36-50
existing

community
(36-50 acres of
community
(11-20 acres of
community

acres of
acres of
35) acres of
acres of
baseline (more

(more than 50
impermeable
(21-35 acres
impermeable
(1-10 acres of

permeable
permeable
permeable
permeable
than 50 acres

acres of
surface added)
of
surface added)
impermeable

surface added)
surface added)
surface added)
surface added)
of new

impermeable

impermeable

surface





permeable

surface added)

surface

added)





surface)



added)








Raw Score
-5
-4
-3
-2
-1
0
1
2
3
4
5
Benefits Adjusted











Score
-5
-4.75
-4.5
-3.5
-2
0
1.5
3
4
4.5
5
Once the conversion from raw scores to benefits adjusted scores has been made, the benefits adjusted score is used in the overall calculation of
benefits for alternatives.

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Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 46
REFINEMENT 4: Performance Uncertainty (Related to Step 5)
Uncertainly about the precise performance an alternative can deliver is not uncommon, and in the case
where there is substantial uncertainly, an adjustment to the process of deriving a benefit score is
needed. Typically, the same experts/stakeholders best positioned to rate a given criterion for a given
alternative are also best positioned to estimate the uncertainly of performance. Though many methods
for addressing uncertainly exist, many of which are quite sophisticated and require specialized software
support, a relatively straightforward and common approach is to derive an "expected value"
(probability-weighted outcome) for an alternative's performance.
EXAMPLE:
Alternative 1 has three different levels of possible net kWh production levels:
1.	150,000 kWh/month on the low end, with a 10 percent likelihood of this outcome.
2.	200,000 kWh/month in the mid-range, with an 80 percent likelihood of this outcome.
3.	250,000 kWh/month at the high end, with a 10 percent likelihood of this outcome.
Expected Value = .1(150,000) + .8(200,000) + .1(250,000) = 200,000 kWh per month. The 200,000 kWh
value would be used for all net electricity production benefits calculations. Note that when assigning
probabilities to each potential performance outcome, the sum across all assigned probabilities must
equal 1 (or 100 percent).
Bringing It All Together: An Example of Benefits Score Derivation with
all Four Considerations in Play
Addressing Uncertainty of Net Electricity Performance
The example in Refinement #4 addressed uncertainty in the net electricity performance of Alternative 1
and produced an expected net electricity performance of 200,000 kWh per month. In the absence of
having made this adjustment for uncertainty, SUD had been using a 250,000 kWh per month figure, and
that level of performance produced a constructed scale benefit score of +5. The uncertainty adjusted
value of 200,000 kWh per month, however, produces a constructed scale benefit score of +4. This is the
revised benefit score for Alternative 1.
Creating a Common Basis for Comparing Different Performance Metrics
The example in Refinement #3 addressed converting direct, quantitative performance (net electricity
performance in kWh per month was used) to constructed scale performance for purposes of
establishing comparability across different criteria. The new uncertainty adjusted performance for
Alternative 1, however, is 200,000 kWh (a change from the performance of 250,000 kWh used
previously). This change results in the need to re-run the normalization conversion.
• The calculation for Alternative 1 is: (200,000 kWh - 0 kWh/250,000 kWh - 0 kWh) X 5 = 4,
where:

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 47
o 200,000 kWh in the numerator is Alternative l's actual (uncertainty adjusted) raw
performance score;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the numerator is the lowest actual performance value;
o 250,000 kWh in the denominator is the highest actual raw value;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the denominator is the lowest actual performance value; and
o 5 is the highest constructed scale value.
•	The calculation for Alternative 2 is: (70,000 kWh - 0 kWh/250,000 kWh - 0 kWh) X 5 = 1.4 (with
this constructed scale result acquiring a negative sign (-1.4) to reflect the fact that the original
raw value score (-70,000 kWh) was negative), where:
o 70,000 kWh in the numerator is Alternative 2's actual raw performance score (but given
a positive sign);
o 0 kWh (zero) in the numerator is the lowest actual performance value;
o 250,000 kWh in the denominator is the highest actual raw value;
o 0 kWh (zero) in the denominator is the lowest actual performance value; and
o 5 is the highest constructed scale value.
SUD now has uncertainty adjusted performance of constructed scale score for Alternative 1 equal to +4,
and it has a constructed scale score of -1.4 (based on the conversion from kWh performance to the -5 to
+5 constructed scale).
Benefits Adjusted Scores
The Example in Refinement #2 used permeable surface performance as a means to demonstrate how
non-linear relationships between increments of benefits levels can be addressed. Applying the
information in the adjusted benefits table from Refinement #2 to Alternatives 1 and 2 results in the
following changes to their scoring relative to permeable surface:
•	Alternative 1 (which results in a loss of permeable surface between 1 and 10 acres) originally
received a benefit score of -1. However, based on the table in Refinement #2, Alternative 1 will
now receive a benefits adjusted score of -2.
•	Alternative 2 (which results in a gain of permeable surface of between 11 and 20 acres)
originally received a benefit score of +2. However, based on the table in Refinement #2,
Alternative 2 will now receive a benefit score of +3.
Accommodating Differences in Relative Importance of Sustainability Goals and Final Benefits Scoring
The Example in Refinement #1 addressed assigning weights to each of SUD's three sustainability goals to
reflect differences in their relative importance to the community Table 2(a) below replicates the
summary benefits table provided in Step 6 in the main body of the text. The results in this table did not
reflect any refinements to the benefits analysis. Table 2(b) below captures the weighted benefits scoring
table from Refinement #1, but it now also includes the revised benefits scores for Alternatives 1 and 2
based on uncertainty, conversion to a common benefits scale, and benefits adjustment changes. The
incorporation of these changes has substantially altered the results of the analysis. Alternative 2 has
become a clear winner. Several factors have contributed to this result:

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Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making | Page 48
1.	The uncertainty of the electricity generation performance of Alternative 1 lowered its benefit
score relative to the net electricity performance criterion (from 5 to 4).
2.	Alternative l's negative impact on permeable surface was accentuated by the benefits adjusted
score (moving from a -1 to -2).
3.	Alternative 2's positive impact on permeable surface was accentuated by the benefits adjusted
score (moving from +2 to +3).
TABLE 2(a): Original (with no refinements) Benefits Scoring
Criteria
Aesthetic Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable
Surface Impact
Total Score
Alternative 1
-1
5
-1
3
Alternative 2
0
-1
2
1
TABLE 2(b): Refined Benefits Scoring
Criteria
Aesthetic
Impact
Net Electricity
Consumption
Permeable Surface
Impact
Total Score
Weight
10
5
5
Alternative 1
Raw Score x Weight
-1x10 = -10
4x5=20
-2x5 = -10
0
Alternative 2
Raw Score x Weight
0x10 = 0
-1.4x5 = - 7
3x5= 15
8

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Making the Right Choices for Your Utility:
Using Sustainability Criteria for Water Infrastructure Decision Making

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