The Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness Index (SNHI): A metric for assessing a community's sustainability and potential influence on happiness

Scott Cloutier, Jenna Jambeck, Norman Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper describes the development of the Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness Index (SNHI): a tool to assess and compare how well individual cities, towns, neighborhoods and communities embrace sustainable practices and how these practices translate to opportunities for residents to pursue happiness. The SNHI is grounded in findings from primary literature and previous research suggesting associations between aspects of sustainable development and higher levels of self-reported happiness. Nine subsystems of community development were selected for the generation of the SNHI: water management, energy management, urban design, food management, business & economic development, waste management, buildings & infrastructure, transportation and community governance. SNHI scores were generated for sixteen US cities with data compiled from the Green City Index (2011) and the SustainLane US City Rankings (2007). A method was then developed to generate the Sustainable Neighborhoods for Happiness Distribution (SNHD) to plot future SNHI scores for comparison. The SNHI scoring methodology was then applied by collecting data for Athens, Georgia and Ithaca, New York. Our results suggest that San Francisco has the highest SNHI, while Detroit has the lowest and that Athens is just below and Ithaca just above the mean SNHI on the SNHD. The SNHI can serve as a unique tool for decision makers, community stakeholders, engineers, developers, architects, planners and researchers to assess the relative status of any neighborhood or community, with respect to development and happiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-152
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume40
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Happiness
  • Index
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable Neighborhoods
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Decision Sciences(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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