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Bigger Than Us

#189 Anthony Kane, President & CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure

Anthony Kane is President and CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure in Washington, DC where he oversees the organization’s overall operations and leads the development of the Envision framework for sustainable infrastructure. He is also a commissioner on the Washington DC Commission on Climate Change and Resiliency. Anthony was formerly a research director at the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a research associate with the Materials, Processes, and Systems Group at Harvard University, and an instructor at the Boston Architectural College. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture summa cum laude from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design Studies from Harvard University. Anthony is a co-author of Ceramic Material Systems in Architecture and Interior Design and a contributing author of Infrastructure Sustainability and Design.

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Bigger Than Us #189

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Host Raj Daniels 00:45

Anthony, how are you doing today?

Anthony Kane 01:12

Hi, Raj. I’m doing great.

Host Raj Daniels 01:14

Anthony, welcome to the show. And I’d like to start with a question. And quite honestly, I’m sure we could spend the entire episode talking about this question. But in my research for this show, I listened to a presentation you gave. And there’s one piece of it that really stuck out to me. And honestly, it’s kept me up for a couple of days. It’s a study by Amy Edmondson who studies teams. And she said, I believe, to quote you, “homogenous teams will solve problems faster, but diverse teams will solve problems better.” Can you expand on that?

Anthony Kane 01:50

Absolutely. Well, I think it’s the idea that when you have a homogenous team, you have like-minded people. So they’ll come to a solution really quickly, because they’ll have a natural tendency to agree with one another, to be thinking along the same ways, to implement the same procedures and ways of solving the problem. And they’ll probably arrive at a solution, whereas a heterogeneous team will represent a diverse range of perspectives will offer different methods, different ideas. There will need to be some debate and discussion it will take longer.

But ultimately, the solution will be richer, more beneficial, have higher value, as a result of going through that more in depth process and having that diverse range of perspectives.

Host Raj Daniels 02:36

So let’s wax and wane philosophically for a moment. And the reason it’s kept me up for a couple of days since I heard you say that is because over the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve been on this journey, this drive towards efficiency, which in my mind comes under the “will solve problems faster, but not necessarily better.” What are your views on that?

Anthony Kane 02:59

I absolutely agree. And it’s something that we see in the infrastructure industry as well, for a lot of very good reasons. Things have become centralized, prescribed, regulated, all in a way directing towards the single-problem, single-solution, homogenous approach to doing things. And what we’re realizing now is that in the name of sustainability, we need to think broader, and we need to think how infrastructure can solve multiple problems simultaneously. And recognizing how some of the regulations and strictures around how we do projects are limiting our ability to come up with more creative solutions, limiting our ability to bring in more diverse perspectives and ultimately come up with better answers.

Host Raj Daniels 03:43

So how do we unwind this race towards efficiency and perhaps get people aligned with this idea of bringing in diverse teams?

Anthony Kane 03:53

Well, it’s really central to the whole concept of sustainability and when we talk about sustainable infrastructure because sustainability requires us to think of so many different factors — environmental, social, economic factors. It requires us to look at the entire lifecycle of the project. It requires us to look at all of the different stakeholders and people in the community who could be impacted by that project. So by virtue of taking a sustainability approach to the project, you’re already initiating a process that’s going to open the doors for a diverse team, a diverse range of perspectives and a wider range of possible solutions.

Host Raj Daniels 04:32

Now, you mentioned sustainability a couple of times. Can you give us a brief overview of the Institute for Sustainable infrastructure and your role in the organization?

Anthony Kane 04:41

Absolutely. The Institute for Sustainable infrastructure was created 12 years ago now through a collaboration of three major professional associations: the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Public Works Association, and the American Council of Engineering Companies, and they recognize the need that just as there are rating systems and sustainability tools for buildings and architecture, there needed to be a customized tool and approach for infrastructure. And so that is really the mission of ISI, we look for opportunities within the industry, where consensus or a shared approach to problem solving or sustainability would be more efficient or more effective. We try to be the hub as a nonprofit to bring the industry together to develop those resources and tools.

Host Raj Daniels 05:27

And how do you bring the industry together?

Anthony Kane 05:29

So we have a large and long history of engaging with AEC firms, as well as infrastructure owners, which is often local government here in the United States. We also partner with other organizations around the world: we have a partnership with the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, as well as FEMCIC — the Mexican Federation of Civil Engineers — and a partnership in Italy with the Italian construction certification organization, ICMQ. So we really represent a broad tent that can bring together the consultants, the owners, academics, and environmental scientists, and come up with those solutions and look for opportunities for how we can communicate better.

Host Raj Daniels 06:09

Now, what has changed? Why have you seen these organizations come to you to work with your organization?

Anthony Kane 06:16

Well, it’s been interesting, because we really see sustainability, especially in the US, led from the bottom up as kind of a grassroots effort. You may remember, in 2016, when the United States pulled out of the Paris Agreement, it was cities that stood up, hundreds of cities across the United States that said they would still adhere to the Paris Agreement. And I think there’s a recognition, my personal belief, is that infrastructure is such a locally significant issue. And when you talk about how infrastructure impacts our environment, our communities, our economy, it’s so critical to our communities and to cities and towns. And so cities are standing up and saying that for the good of our community, this is something that we really value and what we want to focus on.

Host Raj Daniels 06:59

Now I know as part of your organization, you have the Envision sustainability framework. Can you break that down for us?

Anthony Kane 07:07

Absolutely. So Envision is a way for us to understand what is otherwise an incredibly complex challenge. So infrastructure is incredibly complicated. Sustainability is incredibly complicated. And so when we start asking, “What does sustainable infrastructure mean,” we need a tool like Envision to give us a consistent framework for analyzing what are the different factors that should come into play. How do we weight them differently? How do we think of the different options of sustainability across the spectrum of sustainability indicators, and to really give us a consistent measuring stick. There’s a great Peter Drucker, quote, “We can’t manage what we can’t measure.” And before Envision, we didn’t have a way of measuring the sustainability of infrastructure. So with Envision, we have an opportunity to create a systemic change, not just in the sustainability of an individual project, but in our entire industry in terms of education, training, policy regulations. And so that’s really the value of Envision.

Host Raj Daniels 08:08

Now, I know resiliency is part of sustainability. What is resilience theory? And how is it relevant today?

Anthony Kane 08:15

Well, the greatest definition I heard of resilience is that resilience is sustainability over time, which I really love. So, sustainability, we think of these three circles of society, economy and environment. And we tried to target something in the middle that’s going to benefit all three of those. But we have to recognize that society, the environment, the economy, they’re always changing. They’re adapting, they’re evolving. Our you know, our populations are aging, the environment is changing, our economy is growing and shrinking. So when we talk about sustainability in the long run, and we talk about what is the sustainable solution, resilience is that critical fourth dimension of time, that we can recognize these circles are changing and moving and the target is changing and moving. So if we really want to have a sustainable, resilient solution, we have to think about what the world is going to be like across the entire life of our project.

Host Raj Daniels 09:08

Now, going back to the Envision framework, something else I heard you say on another interview, was how we’ve been taught to solve problems in a linear way. And after looking at the Envision framework, I noticed that you bring in three separate sets of stakeholders. Can you work walk us through that?

Anthony Kane 09:28

Sure. So you’re right, we do have a way. Our conventional way of looking at complicated problems is to break it down into small pieces and to solve each piece individually, right. That’s how we’re kind of taught, at least in the Western world. That’s how we’re taught to problem solve. And that’s part of what we see in our infrastructure governance systems, right? We have water infrastructure, we have energy infrastructure, and they’re totally separate, and they don’t interact with one another.

Whereas we know in the real world water, water and energy are closely interrelated, but our systems aren’t set up for that. So I think by encouraging a broader engagement with stakeholders and different levels of stakeholder engagement, we can start to get to what we call multi-benefit projects. So not just one problem, one solution. But if we’re going to invest this massive amount of money into an infrastructure project, how can it solve as many challenges as it possibly can? How can it benefit a community in as many ways as it possibly can?

Host Raj Daniels 10:26

Now, it could be just me or reading between the lines. But it sounds like what you’re saying is moving from being isolated, siloed, and individualistic to becoming more collective. Am I hearing you correctly?

Anthony Kane 10:41

In a way, yes. I think our infrastructure governance has suffered from being siloed. And of course, when it was started, there were many reasons for doing it, health and safety reasons. But now we’re at a different point in time and with different technology available to us. And it’s possible for infrastructure, as I mentioned, to provide multiple benefits to our communities. But it just can sometimes be a challenge working through the existing frameworks and regulations.

Host Raj Daniels 11:07

Now let’s talk specifically about equity. How can we make infrastructure more equitable?

Anthony Kane 11:13

Absolutely. And this is one where I don’t know that there’s a single silver bullet. But where you start is with that stakeholder engagement, you need to understand the community that you’re serving — the history, the culture there. And to, again, ask for this project that is being developed, who is going to benefit from this project, and who may be hindered or in some way negatively impacted by the project. And we need to always be striving to balance those and to question our own biases around where we assign the negative impacts of a project, and ultimately, to provide services to all of our communities in the best possible way, starting with those who are historically underserved.

Host Raj Daniels 11:56

Now, this sounds really good in theory. You must have encountered some challenges or push backs. What are some of the questions or pushback you’ve received on this journey?

Anthony Kane 12:05

Well, it’s interesting, I think. On one hand, it’s not necessarily a pushback, but there isan inertia to the way we do things. And for many, again, good reasons, the infrastructure industry is risk-averse. These are things that have the potential to cause serious harm to people. So they are very focused on safety, on consistency. And that means there is a really high threshold to change the way that we do things. So if we’ve been doing something before, and it’s safe, and it’s healthy, and people are okay, we want to keep doing it that way. And sustainability is about saying we need to do things differently. So that is a pretty big threshold to get over initially.

And then on the other side, I think the engineering community is recognizing that it has historically attracted technically-minded people, scientific people who look at infrastructure as a technical challenge, right. And we’re bringing this element to say, yes, it is a technical challenge that requires all of this intense, hard engineering, but ultimately, the purpose of the infrastructure is to serve a community.

So we also need to have a social element in everything that we do. And I sometimes joke — and I can’t take credit for this, because I heard it at a conference — but you’ll talk to an engineer about a water infrastructure project. And they’ll say, “Oh, it’s a 52 inch diameter, with so many hundreds of feet per minute flow.” Whereas somebody else might say, “This is going to serve a community of 300 people, and it’s going to ensure that their neighborhood doesn’t get flooded.” So I think we just have to change our mindset a little bit and focus on the social benefits of what the infrastructure is doing.

Host Raj Daniels 13:42

So when you encounter the inertia, it sounds like it’s almost a change management problem. How do you encourage that change to happen?

Anthony Kane 13:50

It is exactly a change management challenge. I wish I had a silver bullet, it tends to come as kind of both a bottom-up, top-down approach. So usually, we try to find organizations where there is a sustainability champion who is willing to work for change within. They usually need a senior person within the organization to give them some leeway. And then we begin with pilot projects, help them see that this isn’t overturning everything. This is an introduction of new techniques and ways of doing things that are gonna improve projects, ultimately going to result in better value of what they do. And so it’s baby steps. You can’t ask someone to change everything overnight, especially in this industry. But we’ve had a lot of success. I tell people, once you start using Envision, you’re going to want to keep using Envision, and that’s what we see.

Host Raj Daniels 14:44

So can you walk us through some of the steps of Envision?

Anthony Kane 14:47

Sure. So really, it’s a set of 64 sustainability indicators that run the full gamut of against sustainability impacts and the value there. Besides the consistent measurement, which I already mentioned, is it gives project teams that reason to have a conversation. So maybe talking about the inertia again. Why should they do something different? Well, Envision asks them, “Wow have you thought about this challenge? What are you going to do to address this issue?” And in order to answer that question, they might have to talk to somebody. They might have to engage the contractor or the consultant. Or they might have to go look at their policies and wonder, “Why do our policies prohibit us from doing something?”

So envision can be that catalyst for having that extra conversation, thinking about that innovative solution, getting the team together, that heterogeneous team and being more innovative, and the number one feedback that we get from those using Envision is that besides the sustainability outcomes, it ultimately is a better project management tool because of the way it forces those interactions.

Host Raj Daniels 15:51

So that was going to be my next question regarding the tool itself. How does a company engage or adopt Envision?

Anthony Kane 15:57

Well, the great thing is, if you go to ISI’s website,, we are a 501c3 nonprofit. So you can download the entire Envision manual for free. There’s no cost. So anyone can go and start using Envision. It’s a great way to get started. I call it kicking the tires, right? Look it over. And I would challenge anyone that there isn’t something in Envision that they could find value in, that could help them on the work that they’re doing. So I think that’s definitely the first step, is to just check it out and download the manual.

Host Raj Daniels 16:28

And then is there a consultative approach to from the organization?

Anthony Kane 16:32

Yes. So for those who have adopted Envision, oftentimes, what we’ll see on the organization side is they’ll build internal policies around training. We do have an Envision sustainability professional credential program. So they’ll train internal staff, they’ll also build into their RFP and contracts with consultant engineering companies, how to use Envision on projects. And so then those companies will have trained professionals on staff. And they’ll work together, it will be a collaborative process.

Host Raj Daniels 16:59

Now, if you were to take a really broad brush approach, or maybe a wild guess, from an infrastructure perspective, where do you think we are on that journey from traditional infrastructure to everyone thinking about sustainable infrastructure?

Anthony Kane 17:13

I think we’re still in early days. I think there’s a long way to go. We certainly have leaders, especially in many of our cities, and I would say it’s not just the big cities that we might think of; certainly, New York, Los Angeles. But there are also many medium and small-sized cities and communities around the US and Canada and other countries that are also recognizing that sustainability is important to them, as well. But I would say we’re still early enough where it’s not the norm in most places.

Host Raj Daniels 17:44

And what are some of the questions you get from cities or organizations regarding sustainable infrastructure?

Anthony Kane 17:50

The number one question is around cost. There is a perception that sustainability costs more, and I do everything I can to really challenge that. My background is in architecture. And when the Americans with Disabilities Act was released, and we had to design buildings to be more accessible. it was the same argument, “Oh, this is going to add cost.” But then we just changed the way that we designed buildings, and no one today would think that accessible buildings are more expensive. That’s just how we do it. And I think it’s the same with sustainability.

Oftentimes, we’re so averse to changing the way that we do things that we hold these sustainability features back as kind of add-ons. And what that means is we’re really designing a conventional project, and then deciding at the end, whether we want to slap some solar panels on it, or add a few sustainability features. And that, of course, will result in added costs. But that’s not really what sustainability is about. When you incorporate sustainability principles from the beginning, from the conceptual phase of the project, you can incorporate sustainability without increasing the cost of the project, just by making the project itself more sustainable.

Host Raj Daniels 18:58

Now, I learned a term last year: value engineering. Would you care to explain what that term is? Because it surprised me.

Anthony Kane 19:08

Well, you is basically the example of what I just gave. Value engineering is, you can design a project and then at the end, we look at how do we cut costs by taking bits and pieces off of it. It’s all the leftover pieces of IKEA equipment that you get after assembling something. And I had a great advice from professor when I was in school, which said if there is something that you think is really critical to a project, embed it so deeply into the project that no one can value-engineer it out. Right. And so I think that’s my point about sustainability. Sustainability should just be in embedded into a project into the very thinking of the project from the very beginning. It should not just be some features that we slap on at the end that are easily value engineered out because we can just cut those off.

Host Raj Daniels 19:59

That’s the context which I had heard it, is that you’ll see a building get designed, it’ll have all these beautiful sustainable features. And then as the project moves along, slowly, but surely, they’ll start to be removed because the attention goes towards cost.

Anthony Kane 20:15

Exactly. And that’s another value of Envision. I often say that people act differently when they know there’s a test at the end. And by committing to the use of Envision, which has a third party verification and award program, it holds people to those commitments. You’ve said, “We’re going to pursue this, we’re going to use this system, we’re going to get an award.” And it’s not just a nice-to-have anymore. It’s a commitment that you’ve made. But I totally agree with you, it is very easy. And that’s again, why sustainability needs to be embedded. When you think about it, the very principles of sustainability are about doing more with less. Being more efficient. And so sustainable projects by their nature should be more economically efficient, as well, in the long run.

Host Raj Daniels 21:01

Now, we’re going to get to our crux of our conversation, which is the why. I believe you’ve been with the Institute for about seven, maybe eight years. What drove you to get involved with sustainable infrastructure? What’s your why, what continues to drive you?

Anthony Kane 21:16

Well, I think like most people, I would love to be at the end of my life and think that I made a difference for the positive. And earlier in my career, I was a researcher at Harvard University. And you really could not imagine a more enjoyable job for a geek like me than doing university research. And I was kind of the jack of all trades, who would hop around to different research projects. I mean, it was like Disneyland. But because of the nature of university research, it was often academic, or it was a study that might get put on the shelf. And when I started working on Envision, and working with ISI, even before I joined ISI, I saw Envision and I thought this could really make a difference in the world. And if I spend my career making that happen, it will be a career I could be proud of.

Host Raj Daniels 22:06

Where does the drive to make a difference come from?

Anthony Kane 22:11

That might be deeper. My degrees are in architecture. So from a very young age, I always wanted to build things, right. And maybe that’s where it comes from. You want to leave the world with something that will last outlast you, at least, for sure. And I just made a mental switch that I could build something or help build something that doesn’t have to be physical. It can be something like Envision or something like an organization like ISI, and that really is what drives me now.

Host Raj Daniels 22:41

But building something beyond you is great. But where does this equitable piece come from?

Anthony Kane 22:46

Oh, that’s just being a good person. I think, yeah, it is a really good question. But when you see equity in the world, the issues of equity, I don’t know how you cannot feel compelled to do something about it. Infrastructure especially, not always intentionally but sometimes intentionally, infrastructure has been the cause of very serious harm to communities, and to people and the exclusion of people. And I think more than just not doing that anymore, there is a moral obligation for us to correct those injustices and to do, as I said earlier, to first serve the underserved.

Host Raj Daniels 23:28

Not quite Howard Roark, huh?

Anthony Kane 23:32

No, I would probably not paint myself with that brush.

Host Raj Daniels 23:36

For those of you listening, it’s the protagonist from The Fountainhead. So you’ve been on this journey, let’s say eight years. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about yourself on your journey?

Anthony Kane 23:47

Well, I think, as I mentioned, that my initial desire to build things, to build physical things that would last, could be fulfilled in helping other people build things. Maybe the antithesis of the Howard Roark comment. I don’t need to be the heroic architect builder of things, I can help other people do the amazing work that they do, and just help them do it better. And that is a very fulfilling role, in a way, and there are many professions that do similar. But I have found that to be incredibly rewarding.

Host Raj Daniels 24:22

Now, I’m gonna go to my notes here for a moment here. I think I heard you say on another interview, the success or failure of nearly three quarters of the Sustainable Development Goals depend on infrastructure.

Anthony Kane 24:36

Yes, that is correct. When we look at a sustainable world — and there are sustainability impacts every aspect of everything that we do — but when you really look at the underlying impacts, infrastructure will be at the core of almost all of them. And infrastructure is at the core of solving almost all of the 21st century challenges that we are aware of: climate change, equity and social justice, as we mentioned, economic recovery, public health, it’s infrastructure. It’s not only infrastructure, but infrastructure is at the center.

Host Raj Daniels 25:10

So if that’s the case, how can we get, collectively speaking, more people to pay attention to things like the infrastructure bill?

Anthony Kane 25:18

Absolutely. And this is a soapbox that I have been on for a long time. And coming from a different profession and being introduced to infrastructure and engineering, I’m a passionate convert, we have been taught almost to not see the infrastructure around us and certainly to not appreciate it. And I joke that for so many decades, we have told engineers to hide infrastructure, to put it at the periphery. And engineers are so good at their jobs, that they’ve hidden it, and we just don’t see it anymore.

So I think what I really love and a trend that I’m seeing more in these multi-benefit projects, is we’re bringing infrastructure back into communities, and by layering these extra values onto the projects, making infrastructure part of the community again. One example just because I know that’s a little vague. There’s a water treatment facility near me and Alexandria, Virginia, that used Envision, and it’s in the middle of a densely urban area where there are limited parks. So they sunk the storage tanks for this wastewater treatment facility. And they built a regulation soccer field on top of it. And so now, children and families from the community come to the wastewater treatment facility for picnics, to play sports, to engage. And I mean, can you imagine that the wastewater treatment facility is your destination location?

That’s where you want to go and hang out, is the wastewater treatment facility. And we see this across the board in other types of projects. But bringing infrastructure back into our communities, making it visible again, and having it be valuable to stakeholders and community members is so important.

Host Raj Daniels 26:59

You know, it’s interesting you say that, and your comment about engineers being great at their jobs and being able to hide it. I think the idea of making infrastructure, quote unquote, “usable and attractive.” I’ve seen a few different projects around the world, somewhere in Europe, I think they’ve built a ski slope on top of a power generation facility. And I believe that they’re in China too. But I like the idea of bringing people to a place where almost you co-locate a leisure activity with infrastructure.

Anthony Kane 27:28

Exactly. And it’s possible. And it speaks to my earlier point of how often we didn’t do that because of the inertia that, “Okay, the wastewater treatment facility, we’re going to put a barbed wire fence around it, we’re going to tell people to be out. It’s dangerous, or it’s not good.” But there are ways to still be safe to still protect the facility, while also providing space for the community as well.

Host Raj Daniels 27:52

And I think this goes back to your earlier point about bringing diverse opinions to the table.

Anthony Kane 27:58

Absolutely. There’s a great example in Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, which was an underserved community that really lacked park space. And the community wanted a park, but there wasn’t funding for that. So a project that was using Envision saw that there was funding for stormwater management infrastructure. And so they decided to build an integrated, constructed wetland, to help manage stormwater and flooding. But was challenging was because of the history of inequity in that community. The community heard storm, wastewater stormwater treatment facility that was going to be in their neighborhood, and they fought it.

And it took a lot of time on the part of the owners and the engineers to work with the community and to help them understand that while the function of this was going to be stormwater management, what they were going to get was a beautiful park with a pond and a wetland. And they were going to get what they wanted. And underneath it all the infrastructure was going to be helping manage stormwater and flooding. But that history of inequity was a barrier, and extra effort had to be put in to overcome that and reassure the community.

Host Raj Daniels 29:08

So magic wand, if you had a magic wand, and you could perhaps help shape the messaging around infrastructure. What are some ideas you have?

Anthony Kane 29:17

Well, I think in a way, we have to counteract what we often call nimbyism, right, the “not in my backyard.” There’s a perception that all infrastructure is bad, and that nobody wants it. And I think with the examples that I gave, of the constructed wetland, of the wastewater treatment facility with the integrated soccer field, we can make infrastructure desirable again to communities. We can make it something that you want to have in your backyard, that people are excited to hear is coming in. And that will also help solve the significant shortage of funding that we have always had for infrastructure, notwithstanding the current infrastructure bill. Infrastructure. has been dramatically underfunded for decades. And that’s going to take a lot of work for us to get to correct that.

Host Raj Daniels 30:08

To add to what you’re saying, I kind of, if I had a magic wand, wish they would teach, let’s call it Infrastructure 101 in high school. Because to your point, I mean, we use it every single day, we engage in it on a regular basis, but we don’t know where it comes from, where it begins, we know nothing about it.

Anthony Kane 30:25

Absolutely, and we don’t understand how complex it is. You know, one example that I like to give is, while we’re all thinking of solar panels for a ruse, and trying to improve renewable energy, which is wonderful, our energy grid is not built to handle large amounts of decentralized, intermittent energy generation. So if we’re really looking towards the future of large amounts of renewable energy, or decentralized renewable energy, or have solar panels on people’s homes, then we need to rebuild large chunks of our energy transmission systems. And the average person doesn’t usually think of that, isn’t aware of that, I work in infrastructure every day, and it takes a professional electrical engineer to explain it to me; it’s so complicated. And so I think there’s just a lot of things that we’re not always aware of when it comes to improving our infrastructure.

Host Raj Daniels 31:19

I agree. Now, let’s jump into the future. Imagine for a moment it’s 2030. And pick a publication — Fast Company, Forbes, Wall Street Journal. We’re going to write a headline about sustainable infrastructure organization. What would you like it to read?

Anthony Kane 31:36

I would like it to read that infrastructure owners across the world, certainly across the United States, are adopting envision and committing to more sustainable infrastructure. I think that would be an ambitious goal for 2030. That commitment that every infrastructure project that we build should be sustainable.

Host Raj Daniels 31:57

Sounds like you have a lot of marketing to do.

Anthony Kane 32:01

Yes, absolutely. And, you know, it’s an interesting thing, just because of the long timelines of infrastructure projects. We can’t start soon enough because we’re already building the — when we look to the future and think of what’s the world going to be like in 2050, or 2100. There are infrastructure projects being built today, that will still be standing in 2100. So infrastructure has an incredibly long life. We’re not like other industries, where you have a one year product cycle, where next year, you can try again and make it better. We have cycles of decades, sometimes 50 or 100 years, you look at New York City or some of the older East Coast cities, there’s infrastructure that’s well over 100 years old, still standing, still operating. So we really can’t start soon enough.

Host Raj Daniels 32:47

And some of the challenges that I’ve heard from people in the city here locally is that many times, and to your point, it’s obsolete before it starts.

Anthony Kane 32:55

Yes, that is the challenge, as I mentioned, of our inertia, of wanting to continue doing things the way we’ve always done them, and failing to recognize that we need to do things differently. It’s not enough, and especially when you think of the price tag of infrastructure, and especially the $1.2 trillion that is coming down the road, that can’t be wasted on building outdated infrastructure. We need to be building the infrastructure for the next 100 years.

Host Raj Daniels 33:25

That leads nicely to my last question, which is this could be professional, personal. But if you could share some advice, words of wisdom recommendations with the audience, what would it be?

Anthony Kane 33:34

I think in my personal career, I’ve followed my heart in terms of what felt right, I think I told you the story of I was working as a researcher, and I saw Envision, and I thought this could really make a difference. And I think that same approach can be applied in so many different ways, especially on the infrastructure side.

I appreciate the many thousands of advocates that we have out there who every day are just deciding that sustainability is the right thing to do, that they need to be advocates, that they need to support it. And they’re making a difference. Again, I am only helping from the sidelines. I don’t build infrastructure, I don’t design infrastructure. I really applaud all of those people out there who every day wake up and decide they’re going to follow their heart and do what matters and what’s going to make a difference.

So I would say if you’re on the fence, do it. Focus on sustainability, take the first step, learn about it. Learn how it can impact your projects, even if you don’t work in the sustainable infrastructure industry. Write an elected official, let them know that you care about infrastructure and that you care about sustainability. That really makes all the difference in the world.

Host Raj Daniels 34:43

Anthony, I appreciate the advice and your time today. And I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Anthony Kane 34:50

Thank you so much.

Thank you for listening. If you like our show, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. And you can show your support by sharing our show with a friend or reach out to us on social media, where you’ll find us under our Nexus PMG handle. If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send me an email at, or contact me via our website, And while you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech, green tech sectors. Bigger than us is a Nexus PMG production.




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