Tool Development

The Center develops analytical tools that facilitate better understanding and incorporation of sustainability principles.  These methodological procedures are based on benchmarked and peer-reviewed datasets establishing economic and environmental impacts, including greenhouse gases, criteria air pollutants, toxic releases, and employment.  Our tools provide an organized and hierarchical method to guide decision-making and can be tailored for many scales, from individual buildings to county, state, or national levels.  In addition, we use a combination of GIS, input/output analyses of the U.S. economy, and life cycle data to address the balance of air, water, energy, food, and materials.  Economic impact is demonstrated in the form of regional boundaries and the flow of currency between these boundaries.

Lenses for a Maximum Potential Future

The Lenses for a Maximum Potential Future are protocols for our goal of creating a more sustainable present and future.  They may be used independently or combined for different conceptual views, and may reflect cultural and regional distinctions and serve as a framework on which other lenses should be added as the field of sustainable design continues to advance.


Prototyping is an essential process for research and advancing replicable models and methods. ProtoScope is a means of organizing how prototypes are conceived. Beginning at a global (“protoMetric”) scale, ProtoScope identifies databases, patterns, partners, and site information to effect a full-scope prototype design process.

Visible Green

Sharing information is key to creating a green world. Visible Green is a visualization protocol which exposes articulated (“visible”) green and promotes subversive (“invisible”) green. Visible Green functions at three scales--person, home and community--and through four primary techniques--discovery (through feedback), interpretation (using codification), attraction (via design), and participation.


EcoBalance is a design and planning tool which seeks equilibrium between the human and natural environments by identifying and quantifying key life support systems (Air, Water, Food, Energy and Materials) and Life Cycle Principles (Source, Process, Use and Re- Source). EcoBalance recognizes that a circular economy as well aslife cycle behavior is critical to green design.


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