Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Scholarship Type

Faculty Scholarship

Publication Date



As the world rapidly urbanizes, there is much focus on achieving sustainability outcomes within cities. Accomplishing this goal requires not only envisioning sustainable cities and implementing strategies, but it also demands assessing progress towards sustainable urban development. Despite a growing literature on sustainability assessment, there is room to further understand the application of sustainability assessment in urban contexts. This paper presents a systematic review of urban sustainability assessment literature to (1) identify the most common methods used for urban sustainability assessment, (2) identify the most common framings for urban sustainability assessment, and (3) identify the most common categories for organizing indicators that measure urban sustainability. This research finds that urban sustainability assessment in general lacks a unifying framing and that it could be better aligned with common sustainability principles. The paper provides recommendations for future urban sustainability assessment research, including the employment of mixed-methods research among other strategies. In closing, this research offers a generic framework around which to structure urban sustainability assessment and within which to assign indicators for measuring progress towards sustainable urban development.


Open access publication of this article was supported by the Furman University Libraries Open Access Fund.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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