MARS: Metaframework for Assessing Ratings of Sustainability for Buildings and Infrastructure

Dean Papajohn, Chris Brinker, Mounir El Asmar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Many sustainability rating systems have been developed to assess the sustainable development of the built environment. Most rating systems rely on indicators to measure specific project features. However, there is no widely accepted framework to help evaluate sustainability rating systems. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by developing a metaframework for assessing ratings of sustainability (MARS). Instead of assessing specific projects, MARS provides a high-level view by analyzing the sustainability rating systems themselves. A literature review highlights relevant theories, concepts, and processes used in frameworks of sustainable rating systems. A content analysis of 95 peer-reviewed publications from multiple disciplines identified 19 key criteria. These 19 criteria were organized into a metaframework that can be used to assess, improve, and compare existing rating systems, and may also serve as a basis to create new rating systems in the future. A MARS scorecard is presented and its application explained and pilot tested with a standard infrastructure rating system called Envision. Future research will use MARS to more fully evaluate existing rating systems such as Envision, Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment and Award Scheme (CEEQUAL), Infrastructure Sustainability Rating Scheme, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04016026
JournalJournal of Management in Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Assessment frameworks
  • Indicators
  • Infrastructure
  • Performance measurement
  • Rating systems
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Engineering(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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