Methodology: Project Plan Step 4


Your Project Plan is based on the work stakeholders undertook in the Sustainability Audit. Your Project Plan will identify the specific improvement projects related to People, Planet, Profit$ that you will initially undertake. Four major tasks are involved in developing the Project Plan.

  • A)Select Action Categories
  • B)For each Action Category select one or more related Indicators
  • C)Calculate the Baseline Score for each indicator
  • D)Set the Improvement Goals


A common first step in developing your sustainable community project plan is to identify an initial set of action items that you feel are important to your community.

The Sustainable $olution$ Community Planning Framework provides stake holders with a representative set of potential categories and sub-categories which can help you organize your initial plan.

Each  category or sub-category can be customized to a community by selecting the indicator or indicators that most accurately reflects the community’s unique circumstances.


Community A may select Renewable Energy as an action category and select Increase # of solar powered homes as an indicator.

Community B may select Renewable Energy as an action category and select Increase # of public buildings powered by geo-thermal  as an indicator.


Indicators serve as both a “lens” to focus on relevant data and as the basis for setting quantifiable goals/metrics to monitor, evaluate, and report progress.

Stakeholders are responsible for selecting high quality indicators that are:
* Predictive
* Easily Understood
* Measurable with accessible data

As a general rule each Action Category and Sub Category will require stakeholders to select one or more customized indicators.

Below are EXAMPLES of indicators selected by stakeholders for their community.
 Asthma cases/rate
 Organic food availability
 Violent crime rate
 Voter turnout
 Community Services and Resources
 % Impervious surfaces and % Tree Cover
 Public Transportation
 % of park land in 5X crime zones
 Density of development: People per square mile
 Existence of Green Building Code/Ordinance
 % of local economy that is captured locally
 % of family owned businesses
 Poverty rate
 Existence of job training (esp. green jobs)

TIP-Once you have selected indicators you may find it helpful to develop a visual aid by placing indicators as they relate to either People, Planet, or Profit$ as illustrated by the following image.

TIP-  As you review, discuss and fine tune your indicators you may find the ‘Four As Tool” helpful. Below is an example of applying the tool to the Public Transportation indicator presented in the earlier example.

Four “A’s” Planning & Evaluation Tool Applied to Public Transportation

  • Availability

–     E.g. Buses, trains, commuter rail, Zip Car

  • Awareness

–     E.g. larger/more visible signs

  • Accessibility

–     Proximity to residents

–     Handicap accessible

  • Attractiveness

–     Appearance: Cleanliness, comfort

–     Economical: cost, travel time

The Four As Tool can generally be applied to most, if not all indicators, and can assist community planners to customize indicators to reflect community concerns.

Once you have selected your initial set of indicators the next step is to calculate the “baseline score” a measurement of the status quo or present state for each indicator.
Example Indicator and Baseline Score-% of waste recycled (Indicator) is currently 47% (Baseline Score)

Tip-Reports by public agencies and municipal budgets are excellent sources of local data that can provide baseline scores

TIP The Indicator must have a Baseline Score…remember you can’t improve what you can’t measure…the baseline score provides an essential basis for setting improvement goals

For each Indicator you must set a numerical goal on which you base your Action Plan
Example: Goal-Increase % of waste recycled from 47% to 75% in three years.

Below is a Sample Worksheet that provides examples of capturing the information, Columns 1-6, that form the foundation of your Project Plan. The final step, developing Action plans, is described in STEP 5


TIP-Its not uncommon for a draft Project Plan to contain a number of desirable projects that may have to be prioritized to determine which ones should be implemented first. One helpful way to prioritize projects is to evaluate each project with respect to Desirability, Feasibility, Viability. The image below can assist you to prioritize projects for inclusion in the Action Plan.

Desirability-determine which projects are most important to the community

Feasibility-assess each project as follows:

*Technical-is the project doable with existing technology?

* Organizational-do you have the expertise/capacity to implement a complex project?

* Political-does the political will exist to make the decisions needed to implement a project?

* Cultural-is a proposed project or course of action compatible with the community’s cultural norms?

Viability-can the community finance a project AND/OR is the cost/benefit ratio of a project favorable enough to justify financing?

Your Project Plan identifies WHAT you want to do by identifying the projects you will undertake and the Goals you intend to achieve. Your Action Plan will identify the WHO, WHERE, WHEN AND HOW your projects will be implemented to meet their goals.