GreeningUSA 12 Traits© of Sustainable Communities

Communities of all sizes, whether cities, towns, counties, or villages all are in a constant state of activity in three areas: environmental, economic and social. All three areas impact each other and ultimately determine whether the community is thriving, barely surviving, or declining. For better or for worse, the people in existing communities have been, and will continue to make, decisions that affect the long term and short term strength of all three of these areas. In order to nurture and sustain the overall quality of life and long term viability of a community, citizens and leaders need to make informed decisions, establish positions and set policies that are not only sustainable, but allow for positive environmental, economic, and social outcomes


With the above as a basis, GreeningUSA, has identified “The 12 Traits© of Sustainability Communities” as a guide for any existing community to use to help establish positions and policy statements. The traits are listed below for reference.

Trait 1 – Governmental Leadership in Sustainability by executives, staff, and legislators

Trait 2 – Local Economic Resilience with a diversified economic base 

Trait 3 – Sustainable Land Use Planning and Natural Resource Preservation that is integrated, balanced, and diversified

Trait 4 – Sustainable Transportation & Mobility Systems with numerous options. 

Trait 5 – Water Related Infrastructure Systems addressing long and short term quantity and quality of water

Trait 6 – Green Buildings and Housing that are environmentally and energy responsive

Trait 7 – Energy from Non-Fossil Fuels with localized and de-centralized sources

Trait 8 – Waste Material Management that is holistic and value based

Trait 9 – Local Culture, Art and Entertainment that is well rounded and inclusive

Trait 10 – Quality Public Education that also teaches sustainability

Trait 11 – Public Health and Safety based on clean, safe, healthy, places

Trait 12 – Community Engagement and participation by citizens


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