QUALITY OF LIFE
Quality of Life addresses a project’s impact on surrounding communities, from the health and wellbeing of individuals to the wellbeing of the larger social fabric as a whole. These impacts may be physical, economic, or social. Quality of Life particularly focuses on assessing whether infrastructure projects are in line with community goals, incorporated into existing community networks, and will benefit the community long-term. For that purpose, community involvement should be sought by infrastructure owners. Community members (both users and non-users) affected by the project should be considered important stakeholders in the decision-making process (during design as well as during operations). The category is further divided into three subcategories: Purpose, Wellbeing, and Community.
It is critical to ask, “Is this the right project?” The Purpose subcategory addresses the project’s impact on functional aspects of the community such as growth, development, job creation, and the general improvement of quality of life. Positive results from infrastructure projects can include community education, outreach, knowledge creation, and worker training. Projects can teach about their specific sustainable features and processes, and of broader sustainability impacts. Displaying performance may also help facilitate positive user behavior changes.
As integral parts of the community sustainable infrastructure projects should address individual comfort, health, and mobility. Physical safety of workers and residents should be ensured and nuisances should be minimized (including light pollution, odors, noise, and vibration) during construction and operations. Attention is also given to encouraging alternative modes of transportation and incorporating the project into the larger community mobility network. Further, infrastructure owners are encouraged to ensure equal access (availability and quality) to all; exclusionary practices should be avoided.
It is important to ensure the project respects and maintains or improves its surroundings through context-sensitive design. While infrastructure is driven primarily by engineering parameters, its visual and functional impacts should be considered during design. Depending whether the project is located in a rural or urban setting this may include preserving views and natural features or incorporating into the local character of the built environment; most often a combination of both. Successful sustainable projects require a new way of thinking about how they integrate into their community.