Sustainability Decision Tool

The Sustainability Decision Tool was designed by Ben Ewing and Rose Zdybel, while graduate students at UMass Amherst under the supervision of Professor Erin Baker.  The tool is designed to help people make decisions regarding energy usage, considering financial, environmental, and health-related concerns.

The tool is an excel spreadsheet and can be found here:

Decision tools – spreadsheet
Decision Tool spreadsheet May 11, 2010 release

Instructions for Energy Tool (please send comments to Rose Zdybel (

Papers describing the Tool can be found here:


Development of Green Building Decision Support Tool

A discussion of  a collaborative process for developing a decision tool to support decisions around investment in green energy technologies.  Our tool was developed specifically for the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, a local environmental education organization, and the development process began as an undergraduate student service learning project. Building on the student projects, we developed an Excel-based tool that allows users to select various combinations of technologies and instantly see the financial and environmental impacts of their choice.  Given our initial parameters and the preferences of the Hitchcock Center staff, the optimal configuration included installing a biomass heating system but avoiding investment in other green technologies, yielding an annualized preference-adjusted cost of $5,814.   Sensitivity analysis indicated that the overall cost is most sensitive to the discount rate, the marginal cost of damages due to carbon emissions, the amount of electricity used at the center, and the price of electricity.  We calculated the Expected Value of Perfect Information and found that the  most valuable information was  on the cost of maintaining a biomass heating system.

Sustainability Indicators

Values, Metrics, & Indicators

  • Values are the things we care about, the things that should be taken into account when evaluating alternatives. For example, in many decision situations people care about costs.
  • An objective indicates a direction in which we strive to do better. For example, one objective may be to minimize costs.
  • A fundamental objective or value is something we care about for its own sake – it is an end, not a means.
  • A means objective is something that will help us achieve our fundamental objective.
  • A metric is how we measure an objective. For example, costs may be measured in discounted dollars or annual dollars.


Latest Local report on Indicators, by Sandhya Sundararagavan
[as a link]
Sustainability Indicators 2010 report

Active Indicators Display (shows relationship between indicators)

Sustainability Indicators papers and presentations

View the following information on:

Sustainability Indicator Projects: Profiles & Findings

Indicator Matrix Product Location Chart

Selecting Indicators