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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.



Research to establish a baseline, measure change and impact 


Jim Blackburn, Professor of the Practice, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Stephen Klineberg, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Kinder Institute, Rice University
Ellory Matzner, Student, Rice University


/uploadedImages/Shell_Center/Research/jamesblackburn01.jpg           Klineberg S sm          /uploadedImages/Shell_Center/Research/Ellory Matzner n w.jpg 


Project Background

The need for sustainable development indicators was first identified in 2004, when Shell Center for Sustainability (SCS) held the Houston Sustainability Scenarios Project bringing together 70 individuals representing Houston’s government, NGO’s, businesses, and academic community to build scenarios for Houston. As a result, they identified needed research to define a sustainable development baseline and to measure progress in the region. 

In 2009, SCS issued a call for proposals to develop a plan that identified sustainable development indicators for the Houston region. The project kicked off in 2010 with a class taught by environmental attorney Jim Blackburn and sociology professor Dr. Stephen Klineberg. The result provided a report with 25 proposed measures following the SCS focus to view sustainable development through the economic, environmental and social lens. 

In the next phase, SCS will proceed by initiating measurements to define Houston’s baseline, and to continue to collect information that will present a picture of Houston’s evolving condition. This work will be carried out by a dedicated SCS fellow who will develop the long-term and ongoing plan for this effort. 

The SCS fellow will work with faculty advisors close to the project in the areas of environmental policy, social, economic, and environmental impact. The SCS fellow will analyze the data and develop publications on sustainable development in Houston. This upcoming phase of the project is projected to begin in Summer 2011. 





 MCSust report cover thmb 

Measuring City Sustainability: Project Houston, March 2011.   

(To turn the report, open with Adobe Acrobat. Go to View, select Rotate View and click Clockwise. If printing this report, please note it prints on tabloid paper, 11x17) 












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