UTSA Architecture Researchers Study Sustainability in San Antonio Neighborhoods

A team of researchers and students led by Associate Professor Hazem Rashed-Ali at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Architecture has partnered with the City of San Antonio’s Office of Environmental Policy to study sustainability throughout San Antonio. Their Neighborhood Sustainability Index offers a baseline comparison of key performance indicators outlined in the SA 2020 and Mission Verde plans.

Rashed-Ali and his team collected existing GIS data from a variety of city agencies and other organizations in San Antonio to develop the Neighborhood Sustainability Index. They studied 29 sustainability indicators for each of 275 neighborhoods in San Antonio then pared down those indicators into seven sustainability indices: environmental impact, transportation choices, housing equity, supporting existing communities, valuing communities, economic competitiveness and leveraging federal investments. Finally, they used the indices to develop the master Neighborhood Sustainability Index.

The development of this Neighborhood Sustainability Index will help planners, policy makers and other stakeholders evaluate the long-term environmental impacts of their decisions. Using the data, these different stakeholder groups can compare available planning alternatives, select optimum ones, develop new alternatives to address issues identified in the analysis and generally make more informed planning decisions.

Preliminary analysis of the study results showed an apparent correlation between the proximity of the zone to the down town area and its average Neighborhood Sustainability Index score. The maximum overall score was achieved by the Downtown neighborhood, followed by some of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding downtown, while the lowest scores were achieved by the lower density neighborhoods at the northern edge of the city. Detailed project results can be found on: http://sa-neighborhoodsustainability.org

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program and the City of San Antonio’s Office of Environmental Policy and conducted in partnership with the City of San Antonio Planning Department, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio Water System, the San Antonio River Authority, the San Antonio Bexar – County Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Bexar County Appraisal District.