path for a sustainable future

Elements of Sustainable Development

Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Implementing a more sustainable approach to development requires an understanding of the complex interrelationships between development patterns and the environment, economy and society.

Element Reports

The Sustainable Development Plan has established nine topic areas of interest (i.e., Elements) derived from the direction provided by the public, the results of the scenario model, and recognized best practices relating to land use development. Each Element was explored in detail to help inform a range of stakeholders and potential users on the relationship between these topic areas and our community vision and planning goals.

Select the icons below to explore each of the nine Elements of Sustainable Development in more detail and access each of the Element Reports. New information, benchmarking data, best practices and links will continue to be added on the Element pages as the living Sustainable Development Plan evolves.

Transportation & Land Use

The Transportation & Land Use element evaluates relationships between the provision of transportation infrastructure and land use development patterns and discusses alternatives such as mass transit and Complete Streets.

Buildings & Neighborhoods

The Buildings & Neighborhoods element examines urban form, sustainable development patterns and development regulations, while also providing a discussion on Smart Growth principles and alternatives to traditional zoning regulations.

Rural Communities & Open Space

The Rural Communities & Open Space element examines the impact of development in rural areas where agriculture, scenic vistas and natural resources are highly valued by Onondaga County residents.

Government Finance

The Government Finance element explores how current development patterns in Onondaga County affect the ability of local governments to pay for and provide the high quality of life expected by their residents.

Water Resources

The Water Resources element considers how the provision of water and wastewater infrastructure and service affects development patterns and how the resulting development patterns impact the quality of our water.

Intermunicipal Planning

The Intermunicipal Planning element identifies the various levels of planning that occur in Onondaga County and examines the current extent of intermunicipal cooperation between municipalities and government agencies.


The Energy element examines the impact of current development trends on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and explores the viability of various renewable energy sources in Onondaga County.


The Economy element examines the impact that local government structure has on the regional economy and evaluates the role that quality of life plays in attracting and retaining businesses and employees.

Livability & Society

The Livability & Society element examines the relationships between development patterns, quality of life, and social equity in Onondaga County.


A document containing all of the individual Element Reports can be found here (this document is large)