About the Houston Sustainability Indicators 

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The Houston Sustainability Indicators project (HSI) was developed for the Shell Center for Sustainability (SCS) to assist with the characterization of sustainable development in Houston. After several consultation workshops with experts and advisors representing several agencies in Houston, a Final Indicator Set was identified and reported. The sustainable development indicators in the program were defined and measured based on a review of best management practices; expert and advisory consultation; and identification of the ‘Big Issues’ representing the aspirations and values of Houstonians. Three standard reports will be produced on a rolling basis along with theme based studies and publications. The rolling basis is expected to capture progress towards sustainability in Houston based on updated data, policies and programs. The three standard reports are as follows:

City of Houston level Reporting

Council District level Reporting

Super Neighborhood level Reporting



The framework used to structure the Houston Sustainability Indicators program is the Theme – Sub-Theme Framework. The Category Framework is also utilized to ensure balance between the pillars of sustainability. The Theme – Sub-Theme Framework was selected since the City of Houston has no formally identified goals and visions, however through review of published media and in expert discussions around development services in Houston, it was possible to identify a list of themes that would represent the ‘Big Ideas’ that Houstonians care about.

The Indicators 

Twenty-four sustainable development indicators were chosen for this program. The indicators measure development using the municipal boundary of the City of Houston. Indicators were selected to equally address the three pillars of sustainability (Social, Economic, and Environmental Development). Data was collected for the years 1990, 2000, and 2010. Projections were calculated for some indicators to 2015, 2020, 2030, and 2040.

Note: There are a few indicator variations between the city level reports and the district and super neighborhoods reports since some of the indicators in the former report are not applicable to a district or neighborhood type comparison. An example of this is that for the indicator Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions, data was not found at the district or neighborhood level.

HSI Experts


In 2004, SCS conducted a Scenarios for Houston's Future planning workshop. The event was attended by 70 key thinkers and the need for sustainability indicators was first established. Initial work by professors Wil Uecker and Dr. Gary Morris steered the way to identify measures for air quality and greenspace. In 2010, SCS awarded Jim Blackburn the initial task to identify sustainable development measures for Houston. He produced the first report, Measuring City Sustainability: Project Houston, in 2011. That same year, Dr. David "Lester King" Abraham is assigned the task of advancing the sustainable development indicators project for Houston producing the first report in 2012, Houston Sustainability Indicators Report.