11 Tips for Preparing Envision Documentation

Preparing to submit for Envision verification is as much of an art as a science. There are a lot of ‘moving parts’ — working with design teams and owners to gather the correct supporting documentation and crafting thorough yet succinct answers to each relevant criteria. 

Now put yourself in the shoes of a Verifier: did you know that they are typically allocated less than one hour to review each credit? For a project they know very little about? For credits that could have hundreds of pages of documentation? The time flies by! 

Since Envision is still relatively new, with only about 60 verified projects by nearly as many companies, there are many lessons still to be learned. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to both submit numerous projects for verification, and act as the Verifier for several other projects. Having sat on both sides of the table we are sharing insights on simple ways to improve Envision documentation and set the project up for a successful and efficient verification process.

11 Tips for Preparing Envision Documentation

  1. Start with the big picture. Provide a brief high-level project description in ISI’s online scorecard or in QL1.1 to familiarize the Verifier with the overall project. While your team knows the in’s and out’s of your project, a Verifier will be jumping in cold. A brief description can go a long way in sharing the bigger picture before getting into the weeds.
  2. Set some limits. Define your project boundary and components so the Verifier understands where to focus their attention. If the project is large (many components, many miles, etc.), remember to name and address relevant project components or locations in each credit. 
  3. KISS (Keep it simple submitter). Write the credit narratives using language easily understood by those outside your industry. The Verifier assigned to your project may be an engineer specializing in another field or a non-engineer from another discipline.
  4. Answer the questions that are asked. Speak directly to the credit intent, level of achievement description and relevant evaluation criteria. Incorporate key terminology and themes into your response to clearly connect how your response supports the targeted level of achievement.
  5. Connect the dots. What might be an easy connection to those involved in the project may not look that way to a Verifier who is not as familiar with the project. Clearly communicate synergies, dependencies and relationships between planning decisions and design features.
  6. Communicate all of what is needed, none of what is not. Be selective in what documentation is provided, making sure it directly addresses evaluation criteria without going overboard. Avoid including unnecessary documentation, by deleting irrelevant pages from lengthy reports. If a full report is needed to support your point, upload it as a separate file.
  7. Be consistent. Make sure document titles referenced in the credit narrative correspond with how it is referred to in the table of contents at the end of the cover sheet and in the supporting documentation, or the file name if documents are uploaded individually. Don’t leave the Verifier wondering if a wetland delineation study is the same thing as a wetland habitat report. 
  8. Be organized. If you consolidate all supporting documentation into a single PDF, make sure documents are in the order they are referenced in the narrative. Clearly identify each supporting document by labeling the first page or using page dividers. If you upload multiple documents, it is helpful to name the files so they appear in the order they are referenced in the credit narrative. 
  9. Make it easy to see what you are saying. Use highlighting, comment boxes, and arrows to help the Verifier easily find relevant information in the supporting documentation. Use the documentation to not only support the narrative, but supplement the story you are telling.
  10. A picture is worth a thousand words. Maps and photos are powerful ways to share project information. Don’t forget to outline the project boundary on maps and caption photos to provide context for the Verifier.
  11. Back up your claim. Unfortunately, a Verifier can’t just take your word that a credit is “Not Applicable” to your project. Just as you need to provide sound reasoning and documentation to earn points for any credit, you must do the same to demonstrate that a credit does not apply.