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Introduction To Measuring Progress

The well-being of a community or nation can be measured in many ways. Traditional measurements often analyze a single issue by itself, such as the number of new jobs in a particular community.

But such an approach is one-dimensional, and does not reveal the quality of those jobs or their impact on the local economy. More meaningful than simply new jobs, measuring the number of children living in poverty indicates the relationship of social health to local economic performance.

New measurements called "Indicators of Sustainability" are designed to provide information for understanding and enhancing the relationships between the economic, energy use, environmental, and social elements inherent in long-term sustainability.

Indicators serve as valuable tools for profiling local energy consumption patterns as a sustainability benchmark. Communities such as Santa Monica, Chicago, and Jacksonville are using indicators to gather and evaluate information on both current energy use and future alternatives for the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors. This information is vital in planning for and managing the energy resources that will support sustainable development.