Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact UsRisk Management Sustainable Technology

Sustainability-Based Decision Making


Ongoing sustainability projects have produced a variety of tools and decision approaches that focus on sustainability metrics and indicators, or chemical processes. However, work is needed to systematically support decisions, development, and management options in emerging fields of interest.

Environmental Issue or Problem

Sustainability requires meeting the needs of the present population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. To manage the environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainability, decision makers will have to make decisions under highly complex and uncertain conditions. Models, methods, frameworks, and guidance for sustainability-based decision making are needed.

Research Approach

Sustainability researchers work on transdisciplinary EPA teams to develop models, methods, frameworks, and guidance. To support sustainability-based decision making, sustainability researchers will apply key decision theory and decision analysis methods to develop enhanced mechanisms for the assessment, development, and management of products, processes, and systems. As a part of broader efforts to study and support sustainable communities, researchers created a database of sustainability indicators and guidance on the selection and use of the indicators. Researchers will create a web-based tool to help communities identify appropriate sustainability and performance indicators and indices that match their priorities. The sustainability-based, decision-making research also relates to work on nanotechnology, supply chains, chemical processes, water resources, and life cycle perspective research.

Models, Methods and Databases

Additional decision-support tools from sustainability researchers are already available:

    • TEST – Toxicity Estimation Software Tool
    • PARIS III – Program for Assisting the Replacement of Industrial Solvents
    • WAR – Waste Reduction Algorithm
    • CAPE-OPEN – Computer-Aided Process Engineering, Metal Finishing Facility Pollution Prevention Tool
    • LCAccess – Life Cycle Assessment
    • TRACI – Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts
    • DOSII - Database of Sustainability Indicators and Indices

Selected Publications

A Framework for Sustainability Indicators at EPA (PDF) (59 pp, 2 MB) (EPA/600/R-12/687) October 2012

Guidance to Facilitate Decisions for Sustainable Nanotechnology (PDF) (75 pp, 1.08 MB) (EPA/600/R-11/107) September 2011


Tarsha Eason
Database of Sustainability Indicators and Indices


Risk Management Research: Air & Climate Change Research | Water Research | Ecosystems Restoration Research | Land Research | Technology Research: Sustainable Technology | Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETV) | Technology Assessments

Jump to main content.