The Multi-Sector Sustainability Browser (MSSB): Planning and Developing Sustainability Initiatives Affecting Land Use

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) Research Program develops methodologies, resources, and tools to assist local and regional community planners, community members, and local decision makers in implementing sustainable policy choices for managing their resources, as they affect the built environment, the natural environment, the economy, and human health. Communities require access to information resources to assist them in implementing their sustainability projects through intelligent decisions based on scientific research. The Multi-Sector Sustainability Browser (MSSB) is designed to support sustainable decision-making for communities.
The MSSB is the first decision support tool (DST) containing links to scientific literature, news articles, and technical reports which can be used when planning and developing sustainability initiatives. The MSSB contains information on impacts including obesity, property values, commercial land use, and lakes, coastal areas, and bird species which affect human health, the economy, and the built environment and natural environment, that provides ecosystem services, from four key dimensions of sustainability: Land Use, Buildings and Infrastructure, Transportation, and Materials Management.
The MSSB is a ‘visual database’, allowing the user to investigate one or more of the four key sustainability areas, to explore the available scientific literature references, and to assess the potential impact of sustainability activities on desired decision outcomes. – A case study will be developed to demonstrate how a community with minimal expertise in planning and developing sustainable land use projects can use the MSSB to find relevant resources for land use sustainability through exploration of two questions:
1. What are best practices for land use management to support sustainability? – The MSSB provides resources in the following selected areas: Infill Development (address redevelopment or previously developed land); Urban Parks and Greenspace (address health, ecosystem, and economic impact of greenspace); Brownfield Redevelopment (address revitalization of abandoned or remediated land); Low Impact Development (address stormwater/watershed management, and green infrastructure); Transit Oriented Development (address integration of mixed use development, and transportation)
2. Are there indices of sustainable development relevant to land use? – The MSSB provides information on 13 indices that can be used to ‘measure’ sustainable land use development.
The MSSB reduces the amount of time and effort required to assess the state of sustainability science and engineering research, and its application increases efficiency in planning and development contexts.