Valuing sustainable neighbourhoods

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The Neighbourhood Sustainability Framework is a tool which can demonstrate that some neighbourhoods provide better environments than others.  The question the Neighbourhoods team then asked was: Could it be used to prove in monetary terms the value case for planning and developing sustainable neighbourhoods?

The team assigned dollar values to the measures of neighbourhood sustainability used in the Resident Self-Report Tool.  They used two sets of data:

  1. The data generated by the National Neighbourhood Survey
  2. Existing costs and monetised benefits data found in a wide range of existing research, commentary and information.

What they found

Although the data was fragmentary, the results suggested that high density, mixed neighbourhoods show higher dollar sustainability values than low density, non-mixed use neighbourhoods.

Type of neighbourhood

$ sustainability value per dwelling

High density, mixed use


Medium density, mixed use


Medium density, non mixed use


Low density, mixed use


Low density, non mixed use


There is a broad alignment between value and prevailing planning views of the relationship between built environments, neighbourhoods and sustainability. Cities that are able to achieve a positive dollar sustainability value across the city are all cities that have inner city high and medium density areas. Where the city system is dominated by low density, non-mixed use neighbourhoods, the overall sustainability value of the city’s neighbourhood built environment tends to generate net costs rather than net benefits.

  • 31-Jul-2009 (Report NH3112/2)

    Valuing Sustainable Neighbourhoods (PDF 607KB)

    Kay Saville-Smith, Moira Dwyer, Julie Warren

    This report uses Beacon's Neighbourhood Sustainability Framework and data from Beacon's National Survey of Neighbourhoods to value the opportunities presented by the data collected by the National Survey of people's neighbourhood experiences and neighbourhood characteristics.