Incorporating Bio-Physical Sciences into a Decision Support Tool for Sustainable Urban Planning
Deciding upon optimum planning actions in terms of sustainable urban planning involves the consideration of multiple environmental and socio-economic criteria. The transformation of natural landscapes to urban areas affects energy and material fluxes. An important aspect of the urban environment is the urban metabolism, and changes in such metabolism need to be considered for sustainable planning decisions. A spatial Decision Support System (DSS) prototyped within the European FP7-funded project BRIDGE (sustainaBle uRban plannIng Decision support accountinG for urban mEtabolism), enables accounting for the urban metabolism of planning actions, by exploiting the current knowledge and technology of biophysical sciences. The main aim of the BRIDGE project was to bridge the knowledge and communication gap between urban planners and environmental scientists and to illustrate the advantages of considering detailed environmental information in urban planning processes. The developed DSS prototype integrates biophysical observations and simulation techniques with socio-economic aspects in five European cities, selected as case studies for the pilot application of the tool. This paper describes the design and implementation of the BRIDGE DSS prototype, illustrates some examples of use, and highlights the need for further research and development in the field.