Best planning and implementation toolbox

Sustainable Development Principles:

Purpose of Tool:
Sustainability incorporates three interdependent areas of concern: environmental preservation, economic viability, and social justice. A sustainable development includes measures to preserve, rather than harm, its ecological base; ensure, rather than undermine, long-term economic benefits; and advance, rather than hinder, fairness, equity and diversity.

Benefits of Using Tool:
Sustainable development provides a framework under which communities can use resources effectively, create efficient infrastructure, protect and enhance quality of life, and create new businesses to strengthen their economies. Sustainable development helps to create healthy communities that can last through multiple generations.

Steps Involved to Use Tool:
This tool is implemented by using strategies and planning policies that protect natural resources, save energy, enhance quality of life, create housing choices, and improve municipal finances by taking into consideration location, design, and long-term costs of growth. The following are strategies used to implement sustainable development:

  • Agricultural preservation
  • Brownfield redevelopment
  • Business Improvement Districts
  • District improvement financing
  • Inclusionary zoning
  • Infill development
  • Low impact development
  • Open space residential design
  • Traditional Neighborhood Development
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Urban growth boundary
  • Wastewater alternatives
  • Water resource management

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:
    Sustainable development cannot be achieved with one technique alone, but requires a mix of techniques packaged to achieve local goals. Local governments have the greatest influence on where and how growth occurs; therefore, achieving sustainable development requires the appropriate supporting local government regulations and ordinances.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    In order to implement a strategy for sustainable development, a community and its citizens must be supportive of the goal of sustainability. In addition to community efforts, the adoption of new green technology is an important element in the development of sustainable communities. Although these technologies are often more expensive up front, the benefits are realized in the long run.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The Commonwealth has developed a Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit that contains model bylaws for many smart growth/smart energy techniques.  Contact:

    The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
    Sustainable Development Program

  • Santa Monica, California: The City has adopted a Sustainable City Plan that provides a blueprint for the city’s current environmental, economic and social needs without compromising the ability for future generations to do the same. The Plan has concrete goals and targets for tracking the City’s progress.  Contact:

    Office of Sustainability and the Environment
    200 Santa Monica Pier
    Santa Monica, CA 90401

  • Sarasota, Florida: The City has implemented a sustainable development vision process in response to urban growth and sprawl, environmental deterioration, and traffic and water problems.  Contact:

    City of Sarasota
    Environmental and Sustainability Coordinator 

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Indicators, identified by the community, are used to measure performance of sustainable development.
    Santa Monica, CA has successfully developed indicators to help determine the condition of a system, or the impact of a program, policy, or action. When tracked over time, these indicators can identify the progress towards sustainability and provide the City with useful information to assist with decision-making. Two (2) types of indicators are tracked as part of the Sustainable City Plan. System level indicators measure the state, condition or pressures on a community-wide basis for each goal area. Program level indicators measure the performance or effectiveness of specific programs, policies, or actions taken by the City government or other stakeholders. Indicator examples include vehicle miles traveled, percentage of land preserved as open space, soil erosion, impervious surface, days in the past year with air quality index (AQI) in the good range or electricity consumption generated from renewable and nonrenewable sources.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • “Measuring the Air Quality and Transportation Impacts of Infill Development”. 2007. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit Smart Growth / Smart Energy
  • Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington Sustainable Development
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Sarasota, Florida. See list of example projects in addition to their website: 
  • “2007 Center for Sustainable Communities Awards Program”. National Association of Counties for Sustainable Communities.
  • “Santa Monica Sustainable City Plan”. 2006. The Office of Sustainability and the Environment.
  • “Education for Sustainable Development Toolkit”. 2002. Energy, Environment and Resources Center, University of Tennessee