A comparative analysis of community sustainable development indicators with application to Baltimore County, Maryland


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Towson University. Environmental Science and Studies Program

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The concept of sustainability has some commonly understood definitions, but no single precise definition is used by all interested parties. Regardless, the three core components or pillars of sustainability include the environment, society, and economy. Some U.S. communities have developed indices, groupings of indicators, to measure and disseminate information about their overall sustainable development. However, there has been little coordination to ensure that valuable indicators are being used. This thesis evaluated sustainability indices in five U.S. communities, and identified the one considered most helpful (Santa Monica, CA), and the one least helpful (Minneapolis, MN). Relevant data from Baltimore County, Maryland were collected and applied to these two indices. The collected data revealed that indicators could be improved to better reflect sustainable development. Finally, productive directions for Baltimore County were outlined, should the county decide to utilize a sustainability index.