Science Inventory

Regional Sustainability: The San Luis Basin Metrics Project

Citation:

HOPTON, M. Regional Sustainability: The San Luis Basin Metrics Project. Presented at The San Luis Basin Metrics Project, Portland, OR, October 27 - 29, 2009.

Impact/Purpose:

To inform the public

Description:

There are a number of established, scientifically supported metrics of sustainability. Many of the metrics are data intensive and require extensive effort to collect data and compute. Moreover, individual metrics may not capture all aspects of a system that are relevant to sustainability. A pilot project was initiated to create an approach to measure, monitor, and maintain prosperity and environmental quality of a regional system. The goal was to produce a straightforward, inexpensive methodology that is simple to use and interpret. Because sustainability is a multidimensional concept, we assembled a research group that consisted of a multidisciplinary team and identified the major components of an environmental system. We selected metrics to capture the multidimensionality of sustainability in environmental systems and included: 1) emergy to capture the quality-normalized flow of energy through the system; 2) ecological footprint to capture the impact of humans on the system; 3) green net regional product to estimate human prosperity and well-being within the system; and 4) Fisher information to capture the dynamic order of the system. We were able to compute metrics for a test geographic region using existing data sets. Our results indicate this regional system is moving away from sustainability as each metric reveals a similar trend. However, the findings support the idea that characterization of sustainability requires a multidisciplinary approach and they demonstrate the need to measure multiple aspects of an environmental system.

URLs/Downloads:

FOREST SERVICE SUSTAINABLE OPERATIONS SUMMIT. PORTLAND, OREGON    Exit

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 10/29/2009
Record Last Revised: 11/20/2009
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 215024

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY

SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY DIVISION

SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENTS BRANCH