An integrated approach to designing healthy cities: Local-area Envisioning and Sustainability scoring System

The health and sustainability of our cities have been put at risk due to challenges like climate change, increasing social inequity, increasing urban population and resource consumption. There is an urgent need to strategise to defend against these challenges to secure our communities against the loss of life, investment and heritage.

HASSELL has designed an integrated urban sustainability assessment framework: Local-area Envisioning and Sustainability Scoring System (LESS) to address this need. LESS allows monitoring, mapping and measuring indicators from all domains relevant to urban sustainability, viz environment, socio-economic, infrastructure and governance. LESS helps answer the following questions instrumental in preparing strategies for the sustained health of cities.

_ What is happening to the urban environment and why?
_ What are the consequences for the environment/humanity?
_ What is being done and how effective is it?
_ What actions could be taken for a healthier and sustainable future?

LESS is spatially enabled, acknowledging the links between environmental and human phenomena. It allows objective assessment of the chosen indicators, and takes into account the priorities and aspirations of the community in the process. This assessment is used to arrive at a unified-weighted index (on a scale of -5 to +5) to indicate the state of health of not only the aspect assessed but also for an entire domain or all domains combined.

The framework is used to: diagnose the nature, extent and location of strengths and weaknesses; establish a consensus among stakeholders on the most critical environmental problems in a city; and prioritise targets for future development. This helps formulate urban strategies and plans to improve urban health and sustainability. This paper presents an up-to-date theoretical-operational overview of LESS describing its structure, and implementation. A case-study is included to illustrate the concepts used in, and results obtained from the use of LESS. 

Dr Arvind Varshney, Spatial Technologies Leader, HASSELL 

Healthy Cities:4th Making Cities Liveable Conference
Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th July  2011
Venue: The Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa NOOSA, Queensland

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