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Glossary H-1 Appendix H Glossary Biogeophysical Sustainability â Biogeophysical sustainability is the maintenance and/or improvement of the integrity of the life-support systems on Earth. Earthâs Life Support Systems â Natural systems that support life on Earth; the atmosphere, the waters, the soils; ecosystems that provide essential services, such as food, energy, waste decomposition, and pollination of plants. Eco-Efficiency â World Business Council for Sustainable Development describes eco-efficiency as a management strategy of doing more with less (Schmidheiny and the Business Council for Sustainable Development, 1992). In practice, eco-efficiency is achieved through the pursuit of three core objectives: increasing product or service value, optimizing the use of resources, and reducing environmental impact. Eco-efficiency is only a relative measure, seen by some as a necessary but not sufficient condition for achieving sustainability, since in some cases absolute reductions in some environmental pressures are needed. Ecological Economics â Ecological economics is a transdisciplinary field of study that combines economics and technology with ecology. It studies the relationships between ecosystems and economic systems, encompassing both biological and cultural change. Ecological Modernization â Ecological modernization refers to the transformation or adaption of industrial systems to reduce their environmental impacts. The concept focuses on material and energy productivity gains through actions such as product and process innovations, supply chain management improvements, and the replacement of hazardous chemicals with nontoxic substitutes. Equity/Equitable Distribution Among Population Groups â Equity concerns the distribution of access to facilities (e.g., jobs and leisure), benefits from investment decisions, and exposure to the negative externalities generated by transport. Equitable policies are those that both promote social progress and lead to a narrowing of the gap between groups that have the best and worst of current conditions. Progressive policies close the gap between the true marginal social cost of journeys and the prices paid by travelers. Human Needs (Basic) â Basic human needs can be grouped into four general areas that can be used to consider the motivation, functioning, and well-being of humans. These areas are (1) safety, security, and sustenance; (2) competence, efficacy, and self-esteem; (3) autonomy and authenticity; and (4) connectedness. The satisfiers to these needs are defined by economic, social, and political systems. Thus, they differ across cultures and change over time. Impact (Cost/Benefit) â The effect or consequence of something. Impact is the effects (desirable or undesirable) of some activity or influence on entities of human concern. Impact is often seen as the terminal point of a causal chain, following intermediate steps such as pressure on and change in the state of a system or entity. For example, a disturbance (pressure) on a traffic flow may change the average speed (state), leading to time losses (impact). Impacts are therefore the ultimate concern for policy or project assessment. Impacts can be positive or negative. Impacts are sometimes aggregated into categories depending on the domain in which they occur (e.g., environmental impacts, economics impacts) or on their value to human society (costs or benefits).
H-2 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies In dicators â Indicator s a re measurable entitie s o r v ar iables that can be used to evaluate progres s toward achievement of a goa l o r objective. While ofte n u se d i nterchangeably with âpe rform ance measures,â indicator s t ypically provide an idea of genera l d irectio n o f p er form ance, wi thout th e introductio n o f s pecific units or benchmarks . In dustrial Ecology â I ndustrial ecology is th e s tu dy of mate ri al an d e nerg y u se s a nd flow s i n products , p ro cesses, an d i ndustria l s ystems . I t f oc us es on ways to re duc e n egativ e e nvironmenta l impacts fro m i ndustr ial activity usin g t echnique s s uc h a s life-cycl e a nalysis. Liv ability â Liva bility captu re s t he de gr ee to whic h i ntegrate d t ra nspor t a nd land -u se planning initiatives contribut e t o c ommunitie s w ith high en vi ronmental quality , w hich pr omot e w alking , cycling, and public trans por t u se and easy acces s t o l ocal amenities. Man agement of Reso ur ces â M anagemen t o f r esour ces re fe rs to th e p rudent us e o f non re newabl e re sources that ar e c urrently used as input s t o t he tr anspor t s yste m ( e. g. , c onstructio n m ater ials an d fu els) . T he genera l d ir ectio n o f c hange is to us e f ew er nonrenewable re sources an d t o u se them at ra te s n o g reater than that at whic h t hey can be re pl aced . Natura l C apita l â Natu ra l capita l i s t he st oc k o f a ll environmenta l a nd natura l r esour ce assets . I t consists of thre e m ain categor ie s: (1 ) non re newabl e r esour ces , ( 2) re newabl e r esour ces , a nd (3 ) the capacity of natu ra l s ystems to abso rb emissions and pollutant s f ro m h um an activity . Pe rf ormanc e M easure s â P erformance measures ar e quantifiabl e i ndicator s o f p erfo rm ance that can be used to evaluate prog re ss toward achievement of a goa l o r objective. While of te n u se d interchangeably with âindicator ,â perfo rm ance me asur es generally denot e t he presence of speci fi c quantificatio n m echanisms, units , a nd implie d t ar ge ts /benchmark s. Quality of Li fe â Quality of lif e a t t he commun ity leve l o r i ndi vi dua l l evel encompasse s a spect s that go beyond basic human need s f or su rviv al âf or example, health , c om fort an d c onvenience, sa fe ty , s ecur ity , a nd quality of community an d s oc ia l i nteractions . I ndicator s f or quality of lif e a re highl y c ontex t s pecifi c a nd ar e t ypically define d b y a si gnifican t c ommuni ty engagement exer cise . Steady-State Econ om y â A st eady- st ate econom y i s one wher e t he th roughput s o f a ll ra w material s a nd wastes ar e k ep t t o l evel s w ithin th e r egener ativ e a nd assimilative capacity of th e ecosystem . W ithin th e s teady-state economy, tech no logy, knowledge , t he distribu tio n o f i ncome, an d t he allocatio n o f r esour ces ar e f luid . S ince a f ix ed amount of re sources will yiel d a constant flow of goods an d s er vices (a ll else bein g e qual) , t echnological progres s i s one wa y i n w hich more (o r m or e h ighl y v alued) goods an d s er vices ca n b e p roduced . St ro ng Sus tainability â St rong sust ainability mean s a ssu min g t ha t e nvironmenta l r esour ces an d syst ems, or th e â natural capita l, â cannot be re placed by ar ti fi cial syst em s a nd re sources , o r â man- made capital, â w ithout detriment to sust ainability . T o e nsur e s ustainable development, it is neces sa ry to preserve th e n at ur al capita l a nd theref or e t o m easur e i t i n n atur al ra ther than economic units . Sus tainability â S ustainability emphasizes th e n eed to balance human need s w ith consideratio n o f th e n atur al enviro nm en t a nd equity issues , i n bot h a presen t ( intragenerational) an d f utur e (int er generational) context. Su st ainability is genera lly discusse d i n t er ms of thre e d imens ions : economic , e nvironmental, an d s ocia l ( equi ty). Th e d is tinctio n b etween sust ainability an d
Glossary H-3 sust ainabl e d evelopmen t i s u sua lly made by considerin g s ustainability to be an idealized en d s tate an d s ustainable developmen t a s t he proces s o f m ov in g t owar d i t. Sus tainabl e D evelopmen t â S ustainable development can be viewed as a p ro ces s o f w orking toward achievement of sust ainability , w ith a p ar tic ular fo cu s o n h um an needs. Tr aditionally , i t i s define d a s developmen t t hat meet s t he need s o f t he presen t w ithout compromising the ability of futu re generations to meet thei r o wn needs. Weak Sus tainability â Weak sust ainability mean s a ssu min g t ha t m an -m ade capita l ( machines , technology, etc. ) i n p rinc iple can re place natura l c ap ita l w he n t he latte r i s c onsumed or depleted , provide d t he form er is able to produc e a n e quivalent economic valu e t o s ociety ove r t im e. Accordin g t o t hi s a ssu mption, it is not th e n atur al res ources or syst em s p er se that matte r f or sust ainabl e d evelopment, but th e w el fa re they ar e a bl e t o p roduc e f or soci ety.