The Implications Of Sustainable Development For Happy Neighborhoods

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A potential solution to some of our major societal challenges is to develop sustainably, while setting human happiness as the ultimate objective. This dissertation investigates relationships between community development and self-reported happiness and suggests potential associations between the two. A Sustainable Neighborhoods Index (SNI) is developed in response to calls for a measure of happiness for our cities. The SNI is a tool to assess and compare how well individual cities, towns, neighborhoods and communities embrace sustainable practices. The hope is that these practices, in turn, create opportunities for their residents to pursue happiness. Furthermore, a Sustainable Neighborhoods Distribution (SND) is created; representing a distribution of 50,000 community scenarios based on measurements of sustainability for assessment and comparison of communities. The SNI was applied to two cities (Ithaca, NY and Athens, GA) and to nineteen coastal cities. Cities such as Portland, San Francisco and Seattle score well, while cities like Virginia Beach and Detroit score poorly on the SNI. Finally, a "HappyCentric" framework and the acronym "PERSPECTIVE" are outlined with the intention of guiding the planning, retrofit and design of future communities to move toward sustainability and greater opportunity for happiness. This dissertation puts happiness into the realm of community development and sets happiness as the ultimate outcome, now and into the future. All humans relate to a desire to be happy and those communities that set sustainability and happiness as ultimate objectives could attract and sustain future generations of residents, while improving the life of current residents. Cities are the future of our civilization and they must be developed in a way that contributes to a lasting relationship with the natural and social environment. Developing our communities with the intention of providing residents with the greatest opportunities for happiness may be the key to a sustainable future.

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Sustainable Development; Happy Neighborhoods; Happiness


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Union Local


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Scott, Norman Roy

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Wells, Nancy M.
Lewis, Mark E.
Jambeck, Jenna

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Agricultural and Biological Engineering

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Ph. D., Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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