About the Sustainability Matrix

The Sustainability Matrix is a research tool to gather literature on the sustainability of housing and communities in urban areas. The matrix has two axes; one covers Sustainability Issues, while the other covers Aspects of Housing and Communities.

Each cell in the matrix represents the relationship between a Sustainability Issue and Aspect of Housing and Communities. Relationships contain all the relevant literature.

Read the Paper

For a full explanation of the matrix read the paper presented at the Urban Sustainability and Resilience Conference

Key Concepts

Sustainability Issues

Sustainability is a broad philosophical concept with no conclusive definition; therefore, sustainability has been subdivided into 44 Sustainability Issues. The model of sustainability uses is shown in the picture below.

Sustainability Model

Sustainability model used by the matrix

Aspects of Housing and Communities

Aspect form the vertical axis of the matrix, divided into the broad areas. Resident Population covers the social-economic and demographic characteristics of the population, Dwelling Characteristics covers the properties of houses, and Built Environment covers the properties of the wider urban area.


Relationships are the interactions between each Sustainability Issue and Aspect of Housing and Communities. A relationship contains the amassed literature on that particular topic. Any one paper may appear in more than one relationship. Each cell in the matrix contains a number showing the number of papers available, and a colour representing the most common category of that relationship.


Relationships are categorised based on the level of knowledge provided by the paper. Each category has a corresponding colour.

Unrelated (Black) Aspects and Issues are proven to not be related
Self-Defined (Grey) The Aspect and Issue are the same
Quantitative Relationship (Green) Causal Relationship is well understood in the literature and can be quantified
Statistical Relationship (Blue) Relationship is understood and correlation can be shown in the literature
Qualitative Relationship (Pink) Relationship is understood qualitatively but not quantitatively
Conflicting Evidence (Orange) Literature provides conflicting evidence for the nature of the relationship
Known – Unknowns (Red) Literature provides no conclusive information on whether the issues are related
No Data (White) No available literature

References / Reference Database

To produce the matrix a reference database is stored. This database contains the basic details of the reference, title, journal etc. and any relationship information associated with that reference. The references collected and stored using their Digital Object Identifier (DOI) which allows easy retrieval of the full text.

Using the Website

Help Boxes

On the right side of many pages are grey help boxes, these contain useful information on how to use this page.

Using the Matrix for research

The purpose of the matrix is to aid research into the sustainability of housing. The matrix provides a unique way to view the published literature and identify patterns and trends. The matrix is free to use for research purposes.

Registering with the Site

To contribute new references or relationships to the matrix you must register for free. Registration is currently restricted to members of UK Universities using their .ac.uk email address.

Contributing to the matrix

Contributing to the matrix is quick and easy.

Adding a Reference

You can add references to the matrix (after logging in) by:

  1. Click on Add a Reference
  2. Paste the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) of the paper in the box, and click submit
  3. Click Yes to confirm you wish to submit the reference
  4. You will be given the option to add a Relationship

Adding a Relationship

You can add a relationship to any existing reference

  1. Either click Add a Relationship or click on the button after adding a reference
  2. Complete the form and click submit. (Note: If you will need to know the Reference ID of the reference you are adding a relationship to)