file under: Environment, Green Design, North America, Sustainability, United States, Water

Snow Creek Restoration Receives Platinum Award From ISI

November 15, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—The Snow Creek stream environment zone restoration in North Lake Tahoe, Placer County, Calif., has earned Envision’s™ Platinum award—the highest level attainable in the Envision rating system. Snow Creek is the second project to receive an Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision rating.

Placer County Department of Public Works and CDM Smith, which provided project planning and design services, will accept the award from ISI executive director Bill Bertera at an award presentation in spring 2014. “This project exceeded expectations with sustainable features that accommodate community needs, goals, economic viability, plans and environmental issues,” said Bill Bertera, ISI executive director. “It scored highly for its restoration of a brownfield site, historic wetlands, and the stream environment zone by removing fill and debris and reestablishing vegetation and wildlife habitat. A paved multi-use trail link, low impact design stormwater improvements, and interpretive way-finding signage were also included, providing multiple community benefits in a mixed land use area,” Bertera said.

According to Suzanne Wilkins, CDM Smith project planner and Envision Sustainability Professional, “the Envision rating categories helped guide the project team in providing quality of life and natural world benefits, while also reducing risks to the new stormwater infrastructure and trails.

“Envision served as an excellent resource for the project team in focusing on sustainable principles and practices important to Placer County and project stakeholders,” according to Tom Pedersen, CDM Smith senior vice president and director of sustainability. 

Placer County’s project was evaluated using the Envision project assessment, which was verified by a third party reviewer. “Project design components, such as using a recycled rail car for a bike trail bridge over sensitive areas and reuse of many materials onsite, helped the project attain the Envision Platinum award level,” said Kansas McGahan, Placer County senior engineer and project manager. 

  • Quality of life:  The project will improve community mobility with the construction of a walking/biking trail that connects to existing trails and reduces dependency on car travel while restoring views and local character.
  • Leadership: During the design process, programs established stakeholder identification, engagement and involvement in project decision making. Design integrates several infrastructure networks, including the North Lake Tahoe trail system and local stormwater systems. 
  • Resource allocation: Construction of the project minimizes water use and protects water resources. Willow trees planted near the natural stormwater channel will provide shade for water temperature control, and the project will reduce sediments within stormwater, allowing more water to reach Snow Creek. Reducing sediments and unwanted phosphorus and nitrogen will improve Lake Tahoe’s water quality.
  • Natural world: The Snow Creek project scored highest in the natural world credit category because it protects wetlands and surface water, which buffers, enhances and restores wetlands and other water bodies. The project protects floodplain functions, and native plants including yarrow, mountain sagebrush and silver lupine have been selected to eliminate pesticide and fertilizer use—preventing surface and groundwater contamination, and controlling invasive species. 
  • Climate and risk: Snow Creek’s environmental zone restoration was designed to prepare for short-term hazards to increase resilience and long-term recovery prospects from natural and man-made short-term hazards, including wildfire, flooding, soil erosion and drought.

The Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system is a comprehensive planning and design guide that helps infrastructure owners and designers meet sustainability goals and address projects’ life-cycle economic, social and economic aspects. This holistic tool can be used to guide decisions about investment of scarce resources and to address community and environmental priorities on all types of civil infrastructure. 

About CDM Smith:
CDM Smith provides lasting and integrated solutions in water, environment, transportation, energy and facilities to public and private clients worldwide. As a full-service consulting, engineering, construction, and operations firm, we deliver exceptional client service, quality results and enduring value across the entire project life cycle. Visit us at

About ISI Envision™:
Envision™ is the product of a joint collaboration between ISI, which was founded by three national engineering associations: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and American Public Works Association (APWA), and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Information on all of ISI and Envision™ can be found on the ISI website:

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