Integrated sustainability decision-making framework

Michael Paul Cole, University of Texas at El Paso


The Integrated Sustainability Decision-Making Framework (ISDMF) is an 'ideal case' framework developed at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) from 2012 to present to provide the most comprehensive and concise sustainability strategy and decision-making template available. Sustainable decision-making improves community Quality of Life, but is often beyond the reach of the majority. A framework that is most approachable, actionable, and adoptable can accelerate convergence on and continued operation of a sustainable solution. Research confirms that published frameworks continuously emerge, and are infinite in number. Iterations benefit from prior work, and contribution occurs when an 'ideal case' is envisioned, best case examples are compared, logic gaps are resolved based on the incubated the 'ideal case', and improvement is proven in practice. The ISDMF is a 'checklist', presented as a process view, to better enable effective and efficient sustainability decision-making. Prior work demonstrates that the ISDMF closely aligns with the most respected framework offerings, and expands actionability while streamlining structure to simultaneously increase approachability and adoptability. The current referenced 'best case' is the Sustainability Framework designed by the National Academies (NASF) for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) use. Results confirm ISDMF form and content alignment with the NASF, yet the ISDMF expands established sustainability decision-making strategy and development in two fundamental areas: (1) choreographed behavioral and economic theories, and (2) integration of Diffusion of Innovation theory. Value of these theoretical 'integrations' is demonstrated heuristically via community case studies and comparisons for a resource and innovation. Electricity, assumed an indicator of community prosperity (Smalley 2005), is selected as the resource, and is evaluated for residential grid-tied photovoltaic technology as a community innovation decision point toward sustainability. The major U.S. cities of Portland, Phoenix, and El Paso are objectively assessed. Results confirm ISDMF additions support two electricity sustainability best practices, namely (1) cooperative action through data transparency, and (2) inclusion of adoption monitoring. These ISDMF results, if implemented in each test case, can foster decision and action legitimacy, and thereby enable more rapid community participation to accelerate electricity sustainability where feasible.

Subject Area

Communication|Mechanical engineering|Environmental engineering

Recommended Citation

Cole, Michael Paul, "Integrated sustainability decision-making framework" (2014). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3682454.