It’s important to assess your sustainability status to:
- Establish a baseline so you know what is currently happening
- Help set priorities, goals and projects
- Determine and share how much you’ve improved
Indicators and Metrics
Indicators are relevant issues that relate to an organization’s sustainability and enable you to perform the assessment. They should accurately reflect the presence or absence of that dimension. Indicators need to be carefully selected so that just a few will reflect sustainability status. If there are too many they become impossible to reasonably track. Lagging Indicators give signals after the fact, and show progress. Most indicators are lagging. Leading Indicators give an indication of what’s coming; for example, whether specific programs are in place that will lead to sustainability. Metrics are the specific measurable quantity that’s monitored to determine how the indicator is performing.
Characteristics of a good indicator:
- Consistency and Reliability
- Cost Effectiveness
- Available data
For more information about indicators go to:
Sustainability Assessment Tools
An assessment tool includes a set of indicators and performance levels for each. The ultimate performance level should be full sustainability, or even beyond that to restorative. While this may not always be achievable today it is important to recognize what the goal must be.
Some assessment tools to consider include:
Ecological Footprint: An Ecological Footprint is the amount of biologically productive land and water area an individual, a city, a country, a region, or all of humanity uses to produce the resources it consumes and to absorb the waste it generates with today’s technology and resource management practices. To learn more see Global Footprint Network.
STARS : ASHEE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) has developed a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
HealthySEAT: EPA’s HealthySEAT (Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool) is not a full sustainability tool, but it does have a detailed list of environmental, safety and health-related issues specific to school districts. It is a fully customizable and easy to use software program designed to help school districts evaluate and manage ALL of their environmental, safety and health issues. It is free and available for download.
SCORE: SCORE (Sustainability Competency & Opportunity Rating and Evaluation) assesses the degree to which you've incorporated sustainability into your business practices, using 3 performance levels. It is not specifically designed for schools but could be helpful.