Check Out the Triple Bottom Line Tool!
March 28, 2014

The triple bottom line (TBL) concept originated in the business sector as a way to capture important investment value that is not reflected in conventional balance sheets. The concept – also referred to as people, planet, profit – aims to better account for environmental, social, and economic value of investment so that resources are more efficiently and effectively employed.

In economic development, traditional measures such as jobs created and dollars leveraged are important, but do not provide a complete view of investment impact. Triple bottom line economic development considers a broader array of economic, environmental, and social factors. We define triple bottom line economic development as programs, policies, or activities that create or retain jobs and wealth in ways that contribute to individual and community well-being over time. This type of economic development is distinct from economic growth, which may or may not promote community goals such as quality of life, access and opportunity, environmental stewardship, and fiscal health.

It is important to note that economic, environmental, and social dimensions of the triple bottom line are interrelated. For example, investments in green building may result in energy cost savings (economic), increased building value (economic), higher occupant satisfaction and productivity (economic and social), and lower natural resource and human health impacts (environmental, social, and economic). Ideally, a triple bottom line approach can provide a way to consider these connections and configure investments for strong performance.

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