An Empirical Test of the Relationship between Sustainability and Urban Form Based on Indicator Comparisons using Sustainlane Sustainable City Rankings
Sustainable development is one of the greatest challenges to urban planning in the 21st century. Current patterns of urban development, called byspecially sprawl, and human activity have led to environmental degradation and created a serious threat to continued human existence and sustainability of life on earth. The United States, concerns over consequences of urban sprawl have led to increased advocacy for more compact and traditional urban development. The compact city is now widely accepted as the most effective solution to sustainable urban form. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between sustainability and urban form. In order to achieve the aims of this study, 50 cities in the United States are analyzed and compared with the 2008 sustainable city rankings from the organization SustainLane, using four categories of urban form indicators: densities, mode of commute to work, mean travel time to work & traffic congestion cost, and planning & land use. This research is based on the hypothesis that a sustainable city has a compact city form. According to the SustainLane 2008 US sustainable city ranking high ranked cities were considered more sustainable cities and low ranked cities were regarded as less sustainable cities. Using SPSS’s correlation analysis tool, I studied the relationship between overall city ranking and four categories of urban form the indicators. The overall finding of the analysis of the relationship between each indicator and urban form yields mixed results. The result of this research found that that sustainable city and urban form has several correlations; densities, mode of commute to work, and planning and land use have a strong positive correlation with sustainable city; however, mean travel time to work and traffic congestion cost have a negative correlation with SustainLane’s sustainable city ranking. These results mean that sustainable cities which were high ranked cities in the SustainLane 2008 US sustainable city ranking have a high density, sustainable mode of commute to work, and strong planning and land use. Particularly, when a mixed land use, centeredness, and street connectivity were combined, the planning and land use category of indicators shows stronger correlation with sustainability. According to this result, these findings suggest that when the planning and land use indicators are combined synergistically compact urban form can be an indicator of a more sustainable city.
Kim, Bo Ah (2009). An Empirical Test of the Relationship between Sustainability and Urban Form Based on Indicator Comparisons using Sustainlane Sustainable City Rankings. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from