Rice Unconventional Wisdom
Energy & Environmental Systems Institute

Rice Sustainability District Inititative

"Sustainability" was first defined in 1987 as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Creating environmentally healthy, vibrant and sustainable cities will require coordinated efforts by government and business leaders, resource managers, community organizations and individual citizens. It's a a pressing global concern -- more than half of the world's population lives in metropolitan areas, and trends indicate that this will only increase.  Houston itself has experienced extraordinary growth over the past two decades, and the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2050 it will be among four urban areas in the US to attain the status of "mega city", encompassing a total population in excess of 10 million people. 



EESI - Sustain1

 EESI - Sustain3 A Sustainability District represents a designated, boundaried community or area that allows for the discrete analysis of resource inputs, waste outputs, and the infrastructure within the district that transports or converts the inputs to outputs.

Rice University's Sustainability District Initiative focuses on all three variables in establishing methodologies to create measurable, comprehensive solutions for communities and businesses while educating and training the next generation of green leaders.
 Successfully completely this process will make financing energy efficiencies, carbon management technologies and other conservation measures attainable.

What  We Measure


  • Electrical Energy: Renewable Sources vs. Fossil
  • Water: Potability and Processing
  • Fuel:  Biofuels vs. Conventional Fuels
  • Food: Locally Sourced vs. Globally Supplied 


  • Transporation
  • Potable Water Networks
  • Sewer Networks
  • Electric Grids
  • Information Technologies


  • Air Emissions - GHGs, Carbon, Other Gases
  • Sewage - Contaminated Water and Solid Waste
  • Municipal Wase - Residential and Commerical Wastes

    Click here for Rice Sustainability Discussion Document
















EESI - Sustain2


" A 'sustainable city' is organised to
enable its citizens to meet their own needs
and to enhance their well-being
without damaging the natural world
or endangering the living conditions of
other people, now or in the future."
(Girardet 1999)