Sustainable consumption in urban developments
CSIRO researchers are modelling the links between human behaviour, urban developments and carbon emissions.
3 August 2009 | Updated 14 October 2011
If we are to adapt to changing urban climates, we need to reduce our use of resources, including energy and water.
Understanding the links between resource use, carbon emissions and urban development is crucial to making these changes.
By studying lifestyle preferences, and social and economic responses, researchers in CSIRO's Climate Adaptation Flagship hope to identify the factors driving early adaptation.
Taking a computational approach, this new field of research will help designers build better urban environments.
View a short clip about the our sustainable consumption 'what if' software tool.
Modelling urban consumption
Researchers in the project will take a social ecology approach to understanding human behaviour, urban developments and carbon footprints.
They will develop 'multi-agent' models to simulate complex city systems, which incorporate urban design principles that encourage sustainable behaviours, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and are suited to the changing climate.
This systematic approach, adapted from the field of computational sociology, will be used to model and simulate the links between human activity at various scales: individuals, social groups, and urban developments.
A three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment developed through this process will enable 'what if' analyses on a range of urban consumption choices and the impact of those choices on changing greenhouse gas emissions under different climate change scenarios.
The project will develop 'multi-agent' models to simulate complex city systems.
Visually displaying the complex interactions and feedback loops between these factors will encourage:
more sustainable consumption patterns
sustainable urban development scenarios
better understanding of climate change impacts.
Scenarios developed through empirical social research and participatory techniques will be modelled and simulated in the 3D virtual environment.
Researchers will test the interactions between consumption and lifestyle, urban development and climate change impacts, and assessing the potential impact of environment and development policies.
Key questions posed include:
what are the impacts of recycling more, switching to public transport, or using alternative energy?
how are urban development and human behaviour linked?
how do sustainable urban development, transport choices, urban density, and mixed land use change human behaviour and greenhouse gas emissions?
how will lasting climate change affect human behaviour?
The project will begin with a feasibility study to identify the interrelationships between sustainable consumption and climate adapted urban development.
Researchers will model those relationships and develop a 3D virtual environment to support better decision making.
Read more about CSIRO's work in Sustainable cities and coasts.