The Sustainability Matrix

Land use patterns

Transportation systems

Building design

Landscape design & management

Infrastructure systems

Regional & urban food systems

Regional & urban food systems

Community social services & facilities

Employment, businesses & investment

Air & climate emissions

Energy supply systems

Water management

Materials & waste management

Food supply

Social capacity & basic needs supply

Economic opportunity & sufficiency 

By exploring the issues for each cell in the matrix and identifying optimum strategic responses in the context of the unique issues of any project, any community or project can create a customized and pragmatic assessment and response plan to achieve sustainability objectives.

Mark became critical of the over-simplistic social, economic and environmental 3-legged stool and how was being applied by many organizations.  His training and experience in the challenging details of urban planning and design drove him to create a new framework that was more applicable to cities.

The first innovation Mark created in this field in the mid 1990s was the Sustainability Matrix, while working at the City of Vancouver.  Mark brought his education in urban systems and design to the discussion on global sustainability issues and observed immediately that there were some core issues that were the cause of “unsustainability” globally, but that effective responses to them were complex, interacting with every aspect of cities and the economy.

The Sustainability Matrix has the core sustainability issues on one axis (a deeper evaluation beyond social, economic and environmental) and the specific areas where we can take action in an urban setting on the other axis.

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