Indicators Help Craft Tools for Sustainable Places

Indicators Help Craft Tools for Sustainable Places

The Indicators Project is a partner in the Sustainable Places Project, a region-wide effort to help Central Texas communities align their planning and investment choices with their community values to create healthy and sustainable activity centers. As the five-county region adds 60,000 new residents each year, we need to create and maintain livable places and provide housing, jobs, and transportation options that are feasible, affordable and desirable for individual communities and for all of Central Texas.

The SPP involves a consortium of more than 20 local and regional partners, led by the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG). Some of the key partners include the five counties of Central Texas (Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, Williamson); the cities of Austin, Round Rock, and San Marcos; the University of Texas and Austin Community College; the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), Capital Metro, and CARTS; and the demonstration-site cities of Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto, and Lockhart.

The SPP is funded by a $3.7 million grant from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is working with other federal departments in what’s known as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Central Texas competed against more than 200 regions across the country to receive this funding, which was awarded in 2010.

The SPP has two main components:

  • Development of an analytic tool, is a web-based technology that allows communities to understand the impacts of different development patterns and scenarios, including the impact on municipal budgets, capital investments, and tax base, as well as a range of other indicators calibrated for Central Texas and its communities. The tool is being developed by a team of planners and consultants, led by the University of Texas at Austin. At the end of the SPP, the tool will be customized for Central Texas and available for all communities in the region to use. The web-based, open-source tool will be primarily designed for use by planning professionals but will also be accessible to the broader public.
  • Development of plans and strategies for successful activity centers at  demonstration sites in Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart. The SPP is also using these areas to beta-test the analytic tool and calibrate it for Central Texas conditions; the tool has already been “demonstrated” in the public planning process for the four smaller SPP cities.

The Indicators Project has provided support for both components of the SPP, including the development of the analytic tool and of scenario indicators for the demonstration sites, along with public engagement in the demonstration site cities. Learn more about the SPP at


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