April 3rd & 4th, 2017
Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Business School

This Zofnass Workshop is dedicated to the discussion of the Business Case for Sustainable Infrastructure. The Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure considers critical to focus on the economic benefits of sustainable infrastructure. This workshop is geared as a platform to discuss the perspective of all relevant stakeholders involved in infrastructure about the Business Case for Sustainability and better understand opportunities for collaborative action when developing and operating new projects.

Decision-makers need to identify and understand the economic benefits of sustainability. The returns on sustainable investments represent an opportunity to contribute with applied research to this knowledge area, which is currently vague to stakeholders. It is widely known that sustainable projects avoid impacts, risks, costs and negative externalities, but these are rarely measured and shared with public officials and taxpayers. Understanding the types of costs, risks, and probability of risks allows stakeholders to deliver informed project designs that anticipate and withstand or adapt to these risks, minimizing their overall vulnerability. Through the Business Case for Sustainable Infrastructure, the Zofnass Program intends to articulate, in terms of productivity gains, how sustainable infrastructure contributes to social, business, and safety resilience. Illustrating the costs and vulnerabilities to hazards avoided through sustainable projects is the necessary first step for decision-makers to identify and understand the economic benefits of sustainability.

The Zofnass Program considers crucial to follow a multidisciplinary approach that considers the perspective of all stakeholders involved in infrastructure projects on the economic benefits of sustainable infrastructure. More often than not infrastructure projects are implemented through a heavily siloed approach, wherein there is no communication among different sectors. In addition, engineering is divided from finance and investment. Disparate training and research programs exist for each sector, which do not communicate with each other. Uncoordinated efforts in turn hamper collaboration and the implementation of best practices.

The main goal of this workshop is to provide a forum for all stakeholders to give perspectives on what is the value of sustainable infrastructure for them, what are the critical changes needed, and what would be the role of academia in the development of the Business Case for Sustainable Infrastructure. Each stakeholder group brings a unique perspective on how sustainability adds financial value and facilitates competitive returns. By combining each group’s unique decision-making processes and understanding of sustainability challenges, the workshop will shed light on how sustainable projects enhance competitiveness, resilience, and facilitate long-term economic growth.



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