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16 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Chapter 5 Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework This chapter details how to apply the fundamental steps of the sustainability performance measurement framework. This guidebook discusses the application of the framework through the following steps: Step 1 â Understanding sustainability, Step 2 â Developing transportation sustainability goals, Step 3 â Developing objectives, Step 4 â Developing performance measures, Step 5 â Implementing performance measures, and Step 6 â Refining the framework and applying feedback. Chapters 6 and 7 of this guide introduce the compendium of objectives and performance measures and a sustainability checklistâresources for further applying and reviewing the SPM framework. STEP 1 â UNDERSTANDING SUSTAINABILITY Understanding what sustainability means is the first step in being able to apply the framework for sustainability. This framework defines a set of general, inclusive principles of sustainability that become the foundation for all subsequent decisions (Figure 1). The four sustainability principles are 1. Preserving and enhancing environmental and ecological systems, 2. Fostering community health and vitality, Successful implementation of the sustainability performance measurement framework requires an agency to consider the overall context in terms of the type and scale of performance measurement application.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 17 3. Promoting economic development and prosperity, and 4. Ensuring equity between and among population groups and over generations. Developing a Definition of Sustainability Sometimes a definition or statement on sustainability is taken as the starting point for an agency to apply sustainability through goals and performance measures. While defining sustainability is a valuable exercise, it does not form the basis for the application of this guidebookâs SPM framework, which is instead rooted in the sustainability principles. Consider defining sustainability as a supporting component in this framework. See Appendix A for more guidance on how to define sustainability for your agency. STEP 2 â DEVELOPING TRANSPORTATION SUSTAINABILITY GOALS To address and promote the four sustainability principles, 11 key goals have been defined for transportation agencies (Table 1). While the principles are general and are not transportation specific, these goals: â¢ Can relate the principles of sustainability to the transportation sector; â¢ Can be adapted, expanded, or customized, and can help your agency align its programs with sustainability principles; â¢ Can be revised to better align with your agencyâs current or existing goals or your agencyâs particular mission; and â¢ Can frame your collaborative work with other agencies (transportation and non- transportation related). By focusing on common goals, you and your agency partners decide how to leverage each otherâs work through joint projects and shared expertise. Explore how to share resources and potentially save money by matching funds or collaborating on common activities. Defining Sustainability Goals First, define your sustainability goals. The four fundamental sustainability principles provide guidance. A set of goals that cover these principles ensures that you have considered all aspects of sustainability. This framework and the compendium can be easily used in focused areas (e.g., the environmental aspect) if your agency chooses. Incorporating all the principles helps agencies fully understand the impacts and benefits of sustainability. The process that you take for defining and/or confirming your agencyâs sustainability goals will depend on whether your agency has established and adopted goals or is in the process of defining, redefining, or adopting a set of goals. Working with Established Goals Next, line your agency goals up with the four sustainability principles. You may find that all goals are relevant to one or more principles, or it may be that some are not relevant to any of the
18 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies principles. To assess if you need to add or revise your goals, determine if your agency addresses all of the principles within its current goals. Once you have organized your goals by principle, use this organization to relate them to the example goals in Table 1. There is no requirement that the example goals match yours, but linking them will help identify where additional goals could help round out your sustainability program. These goals will be directly supported by your measures, so it is critical that you select goals that reflect your agencyâs overall mission and relationship to sustainability in order to build a solid framework. Defining New Goals The 11 goals in the framework can serve as guidance as your agency selects and refines a set of sustainability goals. They can be edited and revised to any extent that creates a version that best fits your agency. You can also review the goals that other agencies have developed to get ideas; some agencies have chosen to use an even broader set of goal categories (e.g., public health, location efficiency) than are covered by the 11 goals in this framework. If you are in the process of identifying goals through a long-range transportation plan or other agency-wide document, these goals may become part of a larger set. They can also stand on their own as a set of sustainability goals. Case Study Summary: New York State Department of Transportation The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), as part of the development of their GreenLITES sustainability effort, uses a set of six principles (similar to the goals as defined in this framework) to organize the context of sustainability: 1. Protect and enhance the environment; 2. Conserve energy and natural resources; 3. Preserve or enhance the historic, scenic, and aesthetic project setting characteristics; 4. Encourage public involvement in the transportation planning process; 5. Integrate smart growth and other sound land-use practices; and 6. Encourage new and innovative approaches to sustainable design and how facilities are operated and maintained.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 19 Table 1. Recommended transportation sustainability goals. Sustainability Goal Definition 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 systemâs 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 systemâs 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.
20 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Mapping Goals to Sustainability Principles The sample goals in Table 1 reflect general sustainability principles as they apply to the transportation sector. All of your goals that form part of the final agency goal set should relate to at least one principle of sustainability. Often, a goal will support more than one principle. Yet no one goal in itself is sufficient to achieve sustainabilityâit takes multiple goals, pursued in concert, to promote sustainability. When a final set of goals is defined, itâs important to cross- check the package of goals to ensure that all of the principles are well addressed. In doing so, take care not to force-fit the goals to make them map to the principles. A balanced goal set, however, achieves comprehensive coverage of the basic principles of sustainability. Addressing Equity Equity takes special consideration; as discussed in Chapter 2 and illustrated in Figure 1, it is an overarching consideration for the principles of sustainability. Even if a goal successfully supports one or more of the first three sustainability principles (environmental, community health and vitality, economic prosperity), it could still have a negative impact on equity. For example, the economic and environmental benefits of a program could be distributed inequitably across wealthier and lower-income communities or have a negative effect on certain areas. In approaches that are not sustainable, these equity impacts are sometimes neglected for economic and environmental gain. To avoid this pitfall, each goal should be examined in terms of potential equity and distributional impacts. Your agency may already address these issues in terms of environmental justice requirements. This assessment should examine these factors of Case Study Summary: Oregon Department of Transportation The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has created a sustainability plan that is organized around seven focus areas. These focus areas are similar to the goals developed for this project: 1. Health and safety, 2. Social responsibility/workforce well-being and development, 3. Environmental stewardship, 4. Land use and infrastructure, 5. Energy/fuel use and climate change, 6. Material resource flows, and 7. Economic health. Within each of these seven focus areas, ODOT has developed goals, indicators, strategies, and actions. For more information, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/SUS/sustainability_plans.shtml#Sustainability_Plan__Volumes _I__II__III_.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 21 equity, and they should be looked at in intragenerational (i.e., present-day) and intergenerational (i.e., future) contexts of â¢ Income, â¢ Age, â¢ Race and ethnicity, â¢ Disabled/handicapped populations, â¢ Gender, and â¢ Geography (spatial). STEP 3 â DEVELOPING OBJECTIVES These objectives provide specific actions to meet each of your agencyâs established goals. Chapter 6 includes a compendium of objectives and performance measures. Table 2 shows how the objectives are organized into focus areas. The focus areas represent generic transportation agency functions that cover the range of activities associated with their core business. While these focus areas may not completely align with the structure of your organization, they will help point you toward activities that are similar to those in your organization. If your agency has used the 11 goals in the framework as guidelines, many of the objectives listed in the compendium may be relevant or a good place to start. If your goals are quite different from those in the framework, the objectives in the compendium may provide examples of tone and level of specificity. Using these focus areas, consider how your goals affect all agency activities and how objectives and measures may vary in the context of different agency activities. For example, many of the measures and objectives can be used in the context of both construction and maintenance. By thinking these things through, you may find it efficient to use one measure in multiple focus areas. The objectives you set may be different for different stages of your agencyâs work or for different units of your organization. For example, the objectives for the planning process differ from those for construction.
22 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Table 2. Transportation focus areas for objectives and performance measures. Focus Area Objective/Performance Measure 1. Planning Planning activities include the development of long-range plans, strategies, and frameworks intended to improve one or more functional areas of the transportation system (or the entire system). Documentation resulting from planning activities may highlight a general or categorical set of problems, outline a general program of projects or activities calculated to effect change over time, and provide an estimate of the resources required; it rarely will delve into specific project parameters. Examples may include regional transportation plans, master plans, strategic highway safety plans, and long-range thematic studies or plans. Transportation planning has strong links to land- use planning and comprehensive planning, which could be taken into consideration where possible. 2. Programming Programming is the process of determining which set of projects will be funded and the timing of that investment. These decisions are based on the policies, strategies, and other plans identified in the planning focus area. Funding availability must be considered for this process, and it may include a project prioritization tool and often requires broad input from throughout an agency and its partners. Example outcomes may include transportation improvement programs and unified planning work programs. 3. Project development Project development involves defining the specific attributes of the projects selected during the programming area, including alternatives analysis, engineering, design, specifications, environmental and regulatory analysis, and required mitigation. Example outcomes may include alternatives analysis, environmental impact assessments, and project designs. 4. Construction Construction involves building new transportation facilities, the addition or removal of ramps or flyovers, the addition or removal of lanes, and the addition or demolition of bridges, tunnels, or other integrated infrastructure. 5. Maintenance Maintenance activities are broad ranging and include routine and preventive maintenance. Significant maintenance and improvement activities such as paving/repaving and major infrastructure improvements such as re-decking are also included. 6. System operations Operations include all active or passive nonconstruction activities or systems dedicated to sustaining or improving the functionality of the transportation network. System operations include network monitoring, signalization and signage, traffic/driver information systems, tolling and managed lanes, speed control and enforcement, parking management, turning and merging permissions and restrictions, incident management, public transportation routing and management, and the management of integrated transportation and non-transportation infrastructure. STEP 4 â DEVELOPING PERFORMANCE MEASURES Your performance measures serve to assess your agencyâs progress toward each objective and provide the ongoing data to help your agency further improve performance. The measures should directly support the objectives, and building them out from your selected objectives is essential. However, your agency will have a greater chance of successful implementation if you build on the measures that you are currently tracking and using. In general, the performance measures can be classified as outcome, output, and process measures, as defined in the following. â¢ Outcome measures provide information on the achievement of broad goals such as transportation sustainability goals. These measure the result or impact of a program, policy, infrastructure decision, and so forth.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 23 â¢ Output me asures re late to re su lts or change s i n t er ms of th e t ra nsportatio n s yste m a nd its functioning. Th es e m easur e a p roduc t o r c oncrete it em that re su lts fr om a p ro cess action. â¢ Process measures relate to inputs or products related to a transportation agencyâs activities. These measure components of an agency practice that are deemed to support the related goal or objective. Table 3 shows examples of outcome, output, and process measures that support the same sustainability goal. Table 3. Example of outcome, output, and process measures. Goal: Reduce waste generated by transportation-related activity Measure Example Outcome Change in the amount of waste generated by type, weight, or volume Output Change in the percentage of operational activities with a recycling plan or waste diversion goal Process An asset management system exists While it might be easier for your agency to track process measures (since they relate most directly to actions taken by your agency), it is important to include output and outcome measures in order to truly address the goals of sustainability in terms of the transportation system performance and community level impacts. In ventor y E xisting Measures 1. Gather a lis t o f a ll perfo rm ance measures cu rre ntly in use acr os s t he agency (inc lude data sources , m ethod of tracking, fre quenc y o f r ep or tin g, etc. ). 2. Ma tc h t hese measures with your established objectives (a nd by pr oxy, goals). Case Study Summary: Florida Department of Transportation Florida DOT has not officially created a sustainability plan, but the concept and principles are interwoven throughout many agency and partner agency activities. Performance measures play a significant role in all of these programs and documents. The departmentâs overarching approach to sustainability is embodied within the Florida Transportation Plan, the Strategic Intermodal System, mandates on the MPOs, recent regional visioning exercises, the agencyâs Efficient Transportation Decision Making process, and a 2007 executive order calling for the creation of a Florida Governmental Carbon Scorecard to track and report the reduction of greenhouse gases. 3. Id entif y a reas wher e t here ar e m easur es lacking. Measures can be lackin g t o s uppor t principles, goals , o r f ocus ar eas . T hey can also be in adequate to suppor t t he applicatio n( s)
24 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies that your agency has chosen as the purpose of your sustainable performance measurement program. Depending on your agency resources, this may be as far as you get. But when/if you are ready to select additional measures, the following should build on the areas that are lacking (as described previously). Select Additional Measures The measures listed in the compendium (Chapter 6) can provide examples your agency may want to consider. The selection and implementation of measures can be an additive process. Your agency may have a higher rate of success if only a few measures are added at a time. While there is no ideal number of performance measures, the total number of performance measures your agency selects should be kept to a manageable level. The following is a list of things to consider when selecting measures: 1. How will you calculate the measure? 2. What data are needed? What other measures can benefit from the data? 3. Where will you get the data? (Note: It is best to begin with data your agency has on hand or can access without further collection activities. Once the process of using data to calculate measures is underway, your agency can begin to consider additional data sources and collection.) 4. How many departments/agencies will benefit from the use of the measure? 5. Who will be in charge of tracking and reporting the data? STEP 5 â IMPLEMENTING PERFORMANCE MEASURES Application of Performance Measures The real value of performance measures comes when they are integrated and implemented to support the daily activities of your agency. Applications of performance measures include â¢ Description â Understand aspects of agency business or actions in terms of current status and trends. Determine at what level its programs, facilities, and services are performing through measures of relevance. â¢ Evaluation â Introduce a value judgment with respect to current performance and trends. Involve the use of targets, benchmarks, or trends. Help agencies identify what is wrong, the causes of a particular problem, and how it can be remedied. â¢ Accountability â Identify performance for which an agency or unit is responsible, specifically poor performance in a key area that needs to be improved. Identify agency units that need to improve to meet performance target levels. â¢ Decision support â Help evaluate, compare, prioritize, and select among alternatives and options in terms of sustainability considerations. Determine whether to proceed with a proposed action or to select among alternatives.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 25 â¢ Communication â Communicate to internal and external stakeholders through indices, numbers, tables, graphs, scorecards, and other display tools such as dashboards. Most frequently used methods show conditions, comparisons, trends, and adherence to targets, goals, and objectives. As shown in Figure 3, these applications of performance measures are interrelated. Some applications derive logically from one another. (For example, evaluation can be viewed as an extension of description; similarly, accountability or decision support follows logically from an evaluation exercise.) Communication, on the other hand, is more an overarching application that is implied in the use of other applications, but is also an application in itself. Figure 3. Relationship between application types. Your agencyâs purpose for use of the measures should be a consideration in previous steps of the framework application. However, it is at this step that the logistics of how your agency will collect and report the data are determined and then put into practice.
26 A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies Steps to Successful Implementation Your implementation process depends on the applications that your agency picks. The following steps provide the groundwork for successful implementation and integration. Depending on the number of measures, who is involved, and the application outcomes, these steps can be done per measure, per focus area, or per goal. 1. Determine appropriate scale (e.g., by department, agency). 2. Determine appropriate applications (if more than one) for each measure, goal, or focus area. 3. Establish a reporting system and schedule with roles and responsibility for data collection, analysis, and reporting. Will this be included in an existing annual reporting process, or will your agency establish a new sustainability dashboard of some kind? 4. Your agency can set benchmarks and targets at the level of goals, objectives, or measures. However, in the SPM framework, these benchmarks and targets need to be tracked at the level of performance measures. For example, if an agency sets a target of zero waste, this would need to be tracked for a set of measures that relate to the individual waste-generating activities.
Using the Sustainability Performance Measurement Framework 27 STEP 6 â REFINING THE FRAMEWORK AND APPLYING FEEDBACK Applying the framework described in this chapter is not a linear, one-off process. Instead, it requires constant feedback and refinements to ensure that progress toward sustainability is achieved. Chapter 7 provides a sustainability checklist for reviewing the framework, which can help your agency consider whether the goals, objectives, and measures identified comprehensively address the principles of sustainability. Other parameters relating to the design and implementation of the framework can also be evaluated to provide feedback that can be applied to refine the framework. Case Study Summary: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning The staff at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is very aware that all aspects of its work involve sustainability. In fact, the work of defining sustainability performance measures not only involved every division of the agency, but went beyond the subject areas that CMAP traditionally engages in. Because sustainability involves not sacrificing in the present the needs of future generations, the core work toward sustainability occurs in CMAPâs planning and programming division through long-range comprehensive planning efforts. CMAP has an extensive sustainability performance measurement program. For example, measures are a central element as CMAP considers major transportation projects for inclusion in its long-range transportation plan (GO TO 2040). CMAP is using a subset of 23 indicators to evaluate each projectâs sustainability. The measures are organized into the following 11 categories, with each category having between one and four measures associated with it: 1. Long-term economic development, 2. Congestion, 3. Work trip commute time, 4. Mode share, 5. Job-housing access, 6. Air quality, 7. Energy use, 8. Natural resource preservation, 9. Infill and reinvestment, 10. Peak period utilization, and 11. Facility condition (highways only). For this analysis, each measure is reported individually. The performance measures are not weighted, and the results are not converted into any type of overall score. The results of each project evaluation are presented to the sponsors and will be used to prioritize the list of projects for inclusion in the GO TO 2040 plan.