Cheryl Horn, Sustainable Development or Just Plain Development? An Analysis of Sustainability Indicators for Chattanooga Tennessee
Faculty Chair: Dr. John Tucker
The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding area has undergone a notable transformation in recent decades. Many of these changes have been used to promote the city as an environmentally friendly place to live, and the phrase sustainable development is frequently used to describe local growth and planning. However, no comprehensive analysis has been undertaken to determine whether Chattanooga is truly headed toward becoming a sustainable community in terms of environmental, social, and economic considerations. Based on the concept of sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations and others, and on sustainability studies conducted in four other cities, a set of thirty indicators was developed by which to evaluate the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County. Ten indicators were selected for each major area of concern: environment, society, and economy. These indicators were then assessed according to city and county data sets to determine the overall trends in sustainability. While the city has seen substantial improvement in several environmental areas, including improved air and water quality since the 1970’s, much of this improvement is largely due to federally-adopted laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Many environmental, social, and economic indicators suggested that Chattanooga is still embracing many unsustainable practices, particularly in the areas of transportation and air quality, environmental justice, wealth distribution, and leadership.