SDG Observatory

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.


Sustainable Cities and Communities Globally

Currently, over half of the world’s population lives in urbanized areas. However, cities account for 70% of carbon emissions and 60% of resource use across the world. With high levels of economic development, construction, and infrastructure services, cities can contribute huge amounts of pollution and destroy natural land.

Past the environmental impact of cities, many social inequalities are also often represented in cities. When analyzing cities, we also must contemplate where waste is disposed of, the quality of schools in different regions of the city, and who is forced out of their homes due to gentrification. In building Sustainable Cities and Communities, we must find a way to develop transportation infrastructure, house everyone in a safe and sanitary living environment, and provide essential services —all in a sustainable way.


Sustainable Cities and Communities Locally

Located in the DFW [Dallas / Fort Worth] metroplex, the University of Texas at Dallas’s location in Richardson, Texas provides us with unique opportunity to contribute to SDG 11 [Sustainable Development Goal 11] . To ensure every student is successful, we must build a sustainable community with housing, transportation, waste disposal, and other essential services options. However, in being so close to Dallas, UT Dallas also finds ways to extend our impact to urban areas outside our campus.



Academic Courses

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 15: Life on Land
Students attending a lecture.

Photo Source: UTD News Center

In our coursework, UT Dallas offers numerous opportunities for students to learn about urban planning, policy, and building sustainable communities. Taught by Dr. John McCaskill, PA 3382 Sustainable Communities focused on the interconnectedness of natural and man-made systems, as well as the impact our actions can have on those systems. The projects in these classes count for roughly 30% of the grade, where 3-6 students work together for 3-4 weeks. In Urban Planning and Policy, students explore substantive areas and concepts in the field of urban and regional planning, as well as current urban planning policy issues and debate. Topics include forces that have historically guided US urbanization, land use, growth management, transportation and traffic congestion, economic development, housing and community development, environmental planning, and governmental contexts.


Institute for Urban Policy Research

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Directed by Timothy Bray, the Institute for Urban Policy Research is a research center headquartered at the University of Texas at Dallas’s School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences (EPPS [School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences] ). The mission of this institute is to improve decision making in the critical areas that influence economic growth and the distribution of income and wealth in regional and sub-regional economies. The center aims to integrate the tools and theories of economics and decision science with those from psychology, sociology, public health, and other social sciences in order to better understand the dynamic and spatial structure of the Metroplex. The institute helps Dallas-area businesses, governments and nonprofits identify opportunities for investments, volunteer activities, philanthropic giving and public policies that positively affect the economic condition of neighborhoods and the region. It provides an institution where bankers, investors, real estate brokers, policy makers, students and community leaders can go to seek answers to questions that directly impact local economic development.

Read more about the Institute’s work.


DART Station Coming to UTD Campus

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

September 19, 2020 marked the beginning of construction for the UT Dallas station on the new DART Silver Line. The DART, or Dallas Area Rapid Transit System, is a 93-mile light rail that connects areas across the metroplex. The line is expected to be operational in 2026 and will connect UTD students to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The new DART station will open at Northside. In our pursuit of expanding sustainable transportation options, the DART will provide an affordable and accessible option for many UTD community members. Currently, UTD offers free DART Transit Passes for students upon request. Staff and faculty also have access to discounted DART Transit passes.


Emissions Inventory and Disclosure

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 13: Climate Action
The Student Services Building, a certified LEED Platinum building on the UT Dallas campus.

For submission of our 2023 AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education report, UT Dallas conducted a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Student Eco Reps were a critical part of collecting and analyzing the data for the report. From the performance year of 2018 to 2023, UTD reported a 19% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions output, compared to a 0% reduction from the baseline year of 2017 to 2018. The Office of Sustainability hopes that this inventory will serve as a baseline and motivator for future emissions action.

View full data from the emissions inventory on our AASHE report.


Commute Modal Split & Support for Sustainable Transportation

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
A Comet Cab.

Photo Source: UTD News Center

In a survey conducted for our 2023 AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education report, the Office of Sustainability found that 57.3% of students and 16.1% of employees use more sustainable commuting options as their primary means of transport. To further support sustainable transportation on campus, the University of Texas at Dallas has introduced several initiatives. UT Dallas has partnered with Zipcar to bring self-service, on-demand car sharing to the campus. The University Zipcar fleet includes a variety of vehicles which have reserved parking spaces at several locations on-campus. Special membership rates are provided to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the community. UT Dallas also has eight Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations located on-campus. The stations are open to campus users and the public. In partnership with Blink, UT Dallas is identified on a map that illustrates all locations where there is a charging station. To encourage students to live closer to campus, UT Dallas Comet Discounts includes local apartment housing. Many apartments located near UTD offer discounts on rent, fees, and/or deposits for UTD students. To get around campus, Comet Cabs provide free on-campus transportation for students, staff, and faculty. Comet Cruisers are a free shuttle bus system that serves UT Dallas and the surrounding community. This shuttle does not require a pass or identification from passengers. Our support for sustainable transportation also includes promotion of bicycling and a new DART station to be introduced in 2026.


Bicycle Friendly University

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

In January of 2021, the University of Texas at Dallas was awarded a Bronze Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) Certification, awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. To collect data for our application to BFU, the Office of Sustainability led a committee of stakeholders on campus, including Parking & Transportation, the Police Department, and University Housing. To promote bicycling, UTD has increased secure and convenient bike rack locations throughout campus. Additionally, UT Dallas now provides commuter shower passes for faculty and staff that commute via a form of active transportation. UT Dallas also offers extensive education surrounding bicycle safety and bike theft prevention. The Bronze BFU Certification has also motivated several projects for bicycling on campus including bike maintenance clinics and educational group rides.


Goals / Future Work

  • Promotion of new DART station coming to campus
  • Increased promotion & education around bicycling on campus


Learn More

  • Take the online courses regarding Gender Equality from SDG Academy
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website