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Defining Sustainability for Your Agency A-1 Appendix A Defining Sustainability for Your Agency Here we propose a generally applicable approach to defining sustainability that transportation agencies can easily implement. The approach is shown graphically in Figure A-1, followed by a description of the individual steps and an example of how the guidance can be used to develop a definition of sustainability. The approach can also be used for entities within an agency (such as a district, department, or division) to define sustainability as it relates to them. Figure A-1. Steps to develop a sustainability definition. Step 1 Review Sustainability Principles Any definition of sustainability should be grounded in the basic principles of sustainability, which have been defined in this research as shown in the following. Sustainability entails meeting human needs for the present and future while: · Preserving and restoring environmental and ecological systems, · Fostering community health and vitality, · Promoting economic development and prosperity, and · Ensuring equity between and among population groups and over generations.
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A-2 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies While working all aspects of sustainability into a single definition may sometimes be difficult, it is recommended that elements from all four principles be reflected in the definition. In this first step, agencies should review and understand the basic principles of sustainability as a starting point to developing a definition. Step 2 Consider the Context The context in which sustainability is being considered is important in setting boundaries and context for the definition being developed. These considerations include · Function, · Scope, and · Stakeholders. Step 3 Identify Goal-Related Keywords/Phrases Table A-1 shows the 11 goals for sustainability in transportation defined as part of the framework. These goals help define a set of keywords (also shown in Table A-1) that agencies can select from and incorporate based on their specific context, concerns, and priorities. The list of possible keywords is not meant to be exhaustive but to provide an idea of issues that agencies may want to highlight in their definitions.
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Defining Sustainability for Your Agency A-3 Table A-1. Transportation sustainability goals and keywords/phrases. Transportation Sustainability Goals 1. Safety Provide a safe transportation system for users and the general public. 2. Basic accessibility Provide a transportation system that offers accessibility that allows people to fulfill at least their basic needs. 3. Equity/equal mobility Provide options that allow affordable and equitable transportation opportunities for all sections of society. 4. System efficiency Ensure that the transportation system's functionality and efficiency are maintained and enhanced. 5. Security Ensure that the transportation system is secure from, ready for, and resilient to threats from all hazards. 6. Prosperity Ensure that the transportation system's development and operation support economic development and prosperity. 7. Economic viability Ensure the economic feasibility of transportation investments over time. 8. Ecosystems Protect and enhance environmental and ecological systems while developing and operating transportation systems. 9. Waste generation Reduce waste generated by transportation-related activities. 10. Resource consumption Reduce the use of nonrenewable resources and promote the use of renewable replacements. 11. Emissions and air quality Reduce transportation-related emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Goal-Related Keywords/Phrases · Safety · Affordability · Accessibility · Choices · Options/equity · Health · Efficiency · Trade · Security · Environmental sensitivity · Support for economic development · Efficient use of resources · Feasibility · Use of renewable resources · Reduce emissions Step 4 Develop Sustainability Definition Developing a definition of sustainability involves putting the elements identified in Steps 1 through 3 together into a statement that encapsulates the agency's understanding of what sustainability is and the agency's intent in applying concepts of sustainability. Example of Developing a Sustainability Definition Agency Y is a small MPO serving an area of 60,000 people, focused mostly on multimodal transportation planning. Step 1 Agency Y reviewed the principles of sustainability to develop an understanding of the subject.
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A-4 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Step 2 Agency staff identified the following issues of relevance: (1) small urban area, (2) bus, bike, pedestrian facilities in addition to motor vehicles, (3) focus on planning, (4) include local stakeholders. Step 3 The following were identified as goal-related keywords to be incorporated into the definition: accessibility, economic development, and the environment. Step 4 The agency staff developed the following definition/statement: "The Y area MPO pursues sustainability by providing a multimodal transportation system for all citizens while working with local and regional stakeholders to promote accessibility for all, to support economic development, and to protect the environment for current and future generations." Another example, for a design division within a hypothetical DOT, can be as follows: "The design division supports DOT Z in moving toward sustainability by incorporating safety, economic feasibility, and environmental considerations into our work as we design long-lasting and quality projects."