Resource: Sustainability Indicators in Minnesota and Beyond
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Title: Sustainability Indicators in Minnesota and Beyond
Resource type: Indicators
Topics: Communities, Individual Choices
Keywords: green plan, comprehensive plan, comp plan, green city, sustainable city indicators
Audience: All
Region: Twin Cities
Summary: Detail on Minneapolis's indicators and other resources.
Content: On April 29, 2005 the Minneapolis City Council made three significant decisions that elevated the role of sustainability in directing city policy and operations beyond what exists for any other Minnesota city:

* 23 sustainability indicators were adopted to guide annual city department work plans and annual reports.

* Goal Six of the City's eight goals was amended to read: "Preserve and enhance our environmental, economic, and social realms to promote a sustainable Minneapolis."

* The Minneapolis (Comprehensive) Plan was amended to add the principles of sustainability as a factor in City decision-making. (Details begin on p. 408 of the Official Council Proceedings at

These three decisions culminated work begun in April 2003 when the City Council directed city staff to work with a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Minneapolis Sustainability Roundtable, a public group convened by Ken Meter of Crossroads Resource Center, author of a groundbreaking neighborhood sustainability indicators guidebook ( and of the Fifty-Year Vision and Indicators for a Sustainable Minneapolis ( which formed the basis for the suite of sustainability indicators adopted by Minneapolis.

Below are the sustainability indicators Minneapolis first adopted. See for the city's sustainability annual reports.

1. CO2 Emissions

2. # of Newly Planted & Total Boulevard Trees

3. Acres/% of Permeable Surface

4. Renewable Energy Use

5. Downtown Transportation Mode Split

6. Transportation Mode: Miles of New Bicycle Lanes/Paths

7. Airport Noise & Impacts

8. Water Quality of City Lakes, Streams, Mississippi River

9. Combined Sewer Overflow

10. Brownfield Sites

11. # of Affordable Housing Units

12. # of Workers Earning a Livable Wage

13. Infant Mortality Rate

14. Teen Birth Rate

15. % of Population at a Healthy Weight

16. % of Children 9 to 36 Months Old Receiving Blood Lead Testing.

17. Incidences of Asthma Reported to Emergency Rooms

18. % of Homeless in Minneapolis / # of People Using Housing Shelters

19. Incidence Rates per 100,000 of Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HIV

20. Minneapolis Public School Graduation Rate

21. Number of Homicides % Trend Breakout by Type

22. Number of Block Clubs

23. # / % Public High Schoolers Participating in Visual & Performing Arts

On March 31, 2006 the Minneapolis City Council approved a revised listing of Indicators and their related targets. View the updated version of the Indicators and Targets Chart at and also see additional indicators at

To see how Minneapolis ranks on a sustainability scale with other US cities (#10 in 2006), see SustainLane's web site at or

Also in Minnesota, see
* Imagine Red Wing Green: Red Wing Community Sustainability Report at Prepared in 2008, 59 indidators are presented and initial data gathered. See to access the report directly.
* Framework for Measuring Sustainable Regional Development for the Twin Cities Region, prepared for The McKnight Foundation
by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies in January 2010:
* Minnesota Compass, which tracks and analyzes trends in areas that affect the quality of life statewide and in Minnesota's counties and regions:
* Minnesota Milestones, which uses 60 progress indicators to determine whether the state is achieving 19 publicly determined goals grouped in the categories People, Community and Democracy, Economy and Environment:
* Accountability Minnesota (tracks state agency performance indicators):

For annother example of a city sustainability plan and indicators, first created in the mid-1990s, that has resulted in a measurable decrease in the municipal ecological footprint, see the City of Santa Monica, CA web page at Also see the Orange County, California Community Indicators report at

Another set of indicators begun in the 1990s is The Sierra Business Council's Sierra Nevada Wealth Index, a regional scorecard to help business leaders and policy makers understand and track the assets that sustain the Sierra Nevada region in California and Nevada. The Index describes social, natural and financial capital - which is the foundation of the Sierra Nevada's economy - and thereby provides an integrated understanding of the region's wealth. See

In 2007 Marin County, California adopted a comprehensive plan and indicators based in sustainability See the plan at and a creative visual presentation of the sustainability indicators at

Other excellent resources cities can use to create sustainability indicators:
* the EPA Green Communities site at
* Sustainable Measures at
* The Community Indicators Consortium's project database, which includes detailed information about community indicator projects around the world:
* The Certified Audubon Sustainable Community program at, which for a fee helps communities develop a quantitative, community based long-term plan.
* The Global City Indicators Program, which provides an established set of city indicators with a globally standardized methodology:

Suggested by: Philipp Muessig
Added: 05/16/05
Updated: 08/30/12