Neighborhood Performance Metrics

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The Preservation Green Lab’s Neighborhood Performance Metrics project systematically assesses and compares the relative social, economic and cultural performance of neighborhoods comprised of a fine-grained mix of new and old buildings with those that are predominantly comprised of large, new buildings. Since the 1961 publication of Jane Jacobs’ seminal text, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, planners and preservationists have intuitively understood the important role that older buildings play in supporting community vitality and small business development; through our Metrics research, we are able to empirically show how right Jacobs was by using “Big Data,” maps, statistics, and in-depth neighborhood case studies. 

Combining publicly available building data from Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. with performance data from a variety of sources, Neighborhood Performance Metrics identifies neighborhoods and streets where communities’ older built fabric is boosting the strength and vitality of the city as well as places where targeted investment and attention to the older fabric could spark revitalization. 

This research is vital to decision making about the future of urban places; currently, policy makers lack an understanding of how decisions to demolish existing neighborhood fabric and encourage replacement with larger buildings can influence community outcomes. Our Metrics research can help to make the case to key decision makers that a full range of potential sustainability advantages are associated with conserving and reusing the existing building stock in older character neighborhoods - minimizing demolitions while maximizing the retention of affordable space for small, local businesses and a diversity of housing types for people with varying economic opportunity.

Results from Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. will be released in early 2014.

Learn More about Neighborhood Performance Metrics

Want to learn more about Neighborhood Performance Metrics? Please see our Neighborhood Performance Metrics Two-Page Summary.