The City of Tacoma was named one of the most polluted urban environments in North America in the early 80s. Since then, the city has striven to clean up its environment and provide a model for sustainable living. As a result of this progressive environmental posture it was recently designated the first city to be named a “Lifecycle Community” by the Institute for Environmental Research and Education. As part of this designation the city is adopting Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) practices as a decision-making tool to help the city ensure that its investment decisions lead to a more sustainable environment.
The city’s Environmental Service Utilities (ESU) strives to continue this tradition of leadership. In order to incorporate LCA practices into its decision-making for capital projects and programs, a tool is needed to evaluate projects. ESU invites solutions to develop a Sustainable Return on Investment tool that can be used to evaluate and select the most sustainable solutions to the city's infrastructure needs. Return of investment will not simply be calculated in economic terms but across the four domains of ecology, economics, community and accountability. The tool will provide a method of combining data into a score or figurative outcome that can be used to evaluate the degree to which a project supports and promotes sustainability.
The objectives of the Sustainable Return on Investment tool are to: