University of Illinois at Chicago
CyberSEES_UM_revision submitted 10202018.docx (614.08 kB)

Sustainability Assessment of Universities as Small-Scale Urban Systems: A Comparative Analysis Using Fisher Information and Data Envelopment Analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-22, 00:00 authored by Ning Ai, Marc Kjerland, Cynthia Klein-Banai, Thomas L. Theis
This study aims to identify and implement appropriate techniques for a sustainability assessment, which corresponds to the optimal balance between efficiency and resilience. Strategies are discussed to fill two important gaps: (1) applicable methods for identifying and analyzing multiple variables for a “metabolic” assessment of urban systems over time; and (2) empirical data that can characterize multiple sub-components (e.g., environmental, financial, and institutional) of an urban system, especially at a refined geographic scale where data challenges are significant. With a specific focus on data integration, two methods, Fisher Information (FI) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA), were chosen for this study. Data analyses were implemented in an urban university, which provides valuable opportunities for enhancing our understanding of this type of urban system and enabling data-driven studies of neighborhood sustainability. Based on the strengths and weakness of FI and DEA identified in the empirical study, it is concluded that these two methods can be valuable yet complementary methods for an integrated system analysis.


The authors appreciate the support they received from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant CyberSEES Type II: Data Integration for Urban Metabolism (No. CISE-1331800). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. The authors would also like to acknowledge the constructive comments from Dr. Heriberto Cabezas and the research assistance from Sydney Blankers and Junjun Zheng.


Publisher Statement

NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Cleaner Production. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Cleaner Production, [212, (2019)] DOI:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.205


Ai, N., Kjerland, M., Klein-Banai, C., & Theis, T. L. (2019). Sustainability assessment of universities as small-scale urban systems: A comparative analysis using Fisher Information and Data Envelopment Analysis. Journal of Cleaner Production, 212, 1357-1367. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.205




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