Water and Sewage
Green Blue
Buildings & land use
Introduction Important issues Indicators + benchmarks Cross sector links References

Indicators and Benchmarks

There are many indicators and benchmarks in use aiming at supporting sustainable land use and building. The range of selected criteria depends on the context of a project or proposed development. They should be understood as guidelines for the involved stakeholder groups to achieve a more sustainable development.

If all the existing indicators could not be detailed here, some underlying values could be put in evidence: the precautionary principle, the maintain of diversity, the aim at integrative solutions, creating a scope for innovations, living the model of fairness and solidarity, enhancing knowledge and desire, assuring quality and health, supporting region particularities and subsidiary and enhancing local identity.

It is important to remind that the European Commission initiative, "Sustainable Urban Development: a Framework for Action" highlights the need for benchmarking as a means of achieving greater effectiveness [effectiveness is sometimes equated with quantitative concepts related to the speed of delivery of particular outputs, such as decisions on planning applications or the time taken to prepare a plan (Metrex 2000:].
There is a need for standards to provide an overall picture of the city and how it functions.

Urban Indicators (UI) could represent such measures and provide quantitative and qualitative information. UI can assist in analyzing trends and impacts of policies, clarifying values and informing decisions with regard to development planning.

Performance measurement could be defined as ´evaluation of policy through a well defined set of indicators termed as performance indicators´. These indicators would measure the performance of a municipal body, which are benchmarked against preset targets. Performance can be measured over a period of time or it can be a comparative performance measurement, which may be either absolute (comparison with standards) or relative (comparing within the Urban Local Bodies).

Some of the most frequently named (and used) indicators are:
• water consumption per capita
• urban waste production per capita
• energy use
• urban green per capita
• urbanised area
• modal split of mobility

Besides Urban Indicators, used at the city scale, lot of indicators have been defined at other scales to precise sustainability criteria and measure the performance of the construction industry and the built environment. In fact, numerous actors in the building process need tools and guidelines based on indicators to improve current practices and the quality of construction.

The "Crisp" network, for instance, has gathered and is maintaining a very comprehensive set of Construction and City related Sustainability indicators. They implemented them to compare sustainability at a number of levels: individual building, large group of buildings at both urban and suburban levels, as well as for the whole urban area.

For more information about Urban indicators:

For more information about Indicators for Monitoring the EU Thematic Strategy on Sustainable Development of Urban Environment:

For more information on Construction and City related Sustainability Indicators: