Tools for evaluating the sustainability of urban design: A review

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The present policy objective of sustainable urban development has created the need for methods of ex ante evaluation of local area development projects that assess the contribution of alternative solutions to the general sustainability goals. For this reason, we have seen the evolution of building energy assessment methods into sustainable neighbourhood assessment methods that are more integrative and contextual to accommodate the complexities of the urban scale. This article identifies and reviews a selection of sustainable urban development evaluation tools that are applicable to the early stages of urban design projects, to provide a clearer picture of the state of play to those needing to use such tools and those wanting to develop new ones. The review follows an analytical framework covering the format, structure, content and output of the tools, based on the recommendations of planning evaluation theory and the requirements of urban design practice. Since no single tool stands out from the review, the choice is not simple and there is scope both to further improve existing tools and develop new ones. The paper concludes proposing a strategy for the development of robust and compatible sustainable urban development evaluation methods based on four goals: collaboration, compatibility, customisation and combination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-325
Number of pages15
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Urban Studies


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