Measuring Sustainability

TCI's Sustainable Communities work involves exploring ways to measure the environmental and economic benefits of state-level sustainable communities efforts. By working together as a region, TCI is helping to leverage state resources and and foster sharing of states' experiences with sustainable transportation policies by providing standardized tools to measure outcomes in the same way.

Through this work, a set of measures is being developed to serve as a resource for participating TCI states' efforts to track benefits and outcomes of state sustainable community efforts. A background paper summarizes the efforts to develop sustainable communities metrics.

Participants have identified 11 preliminary categories of measures, and are currently working with stakeholders to further develop and refine individual metrics and indicators within these categories. Several states are working with TCI to explore how these metrics and indicators can be integrated into their existing programs and policies.

The potential measurement categories are intended to support TCI’s Sustainable Communities principles, and also to provide a variety of different types of indicators and measures. Following a review of these potential measures, recommendations will be developed regarding priorities and strategies for their application.  

Measures of TCI Core Goals:

  1. Fuel (and energy) consumed in the transportation sector
  2. Greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

Measures of progress towards Sustainable Communities strategies (promoting clean transportation options and compact development)

  1. Travel by different modes
  2. Proportion of development occurring inside/outside previously developed areas and/or areas designated for growth

Measures of agency actions promoting Sustainable Communities

  1. Transportation and infrastructure investment that supports each mode, that supports preservation of the existing transportation infrastructure instead of developing new capacity, and that is located in within already developed areas
  2. Benefits of infrastructure investment that supports sustainable transportation
  3. Acres of agricultural or natural lands protected

Measures of additional benefits from Sustainable Communities policies

  1. Proportion of jobs/housing near public transit
  2. Combined housing and transportation costs as a proportion of median income
  3. Proximity to amenities (e.g., shopping, health care, fresh food, recreation, etc.)
  4. Health impacts (including avoided health impacts) of transportation emissions