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Creating Sustainable Communities Through Smart Decisions
CDM Smith’s Neysadurai Centre for Integrated Urban Solutions
More than ever before, communities are facing the challenge of increasing their resilience and sustainability while managing the interconnected functions of urban systems. Connecting experts around the world through its base in Singapore, CDM Smith’s Neysadurai Centre for Integrated Urban Solutions is helping clients get the most out of limited funding while addressing competing demands, properly valuing natural resources, protecting ecosystems and improving infrastructure.
Every decision a community makes affects the vital interests of different stakeholders.
“Every decision a community makes affects the vital interests of different stakeholders,” notes Enrique Lopez Calva, technical director of the Neysadurai Centre. “We help clients move the decision-making process from a constraining view of competing demands to a broader conversation of interconnectedness and integration.”
Key to the innovative approaches the Neysadurai Centre is applying for clients are urban systems analytics—a suite of advanced simulation, data visualization and decision management tools for urban systems modeling. “The modeling tools developed at the centre simulate the performance of a city’s water, energy, transportation, urban form and natural environment sectors,” explains Dwayne Myers, CDM Smith project manager. The simulation tracks the relationships among these sectors and the impacts related to land and water resources, greenhouse gas emissions and finances. This modeling process then allows decision makers to look at different options, incorporating both traditional and green technologies, as well as strategies that provide the greatest benefit to the community.
Urban systems analytics answers a set of high-level planning and design questions.
The modeling process is highly adaptable. It can be applied when retrofitting an existing urban area or when designing a new community or program. “In Chicago, Illinois (USA), we are part of a flagship project to revitalize a historic public housing community. We will be using our urban systems modeling process for visualization and assessment of a development master plan,” says Shirley Zhang, CDM Smith systems modeler. Redevelopment of the complex—incorporating rehabilitation, renovation and new construction—will include a mix of public and private rental and ownership housing units, as well as community institutions. Planning for the LEED® Neighborhood Development-rated community also includes extensive stakeholder involvement.
In Singapore, as part of a unique collaboration with Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB), the urban systems modeling process is integral to the planning and development of a new eco-town, creating a multi-benefit, sustainable urban environment. The model is helping HDB to simulate and test the performance of a new city’s multiple sectors.
The urban systems modeling process is equally applicable to simulation of individual sector strategies. For a major campus expansion at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, the modeling process is helping the university plan for energy security and reliability while achieving greenhouse gas abatement targets by embedding sustainable energy options into future operations and decision-making scenarios.
Creating Resilient Communities
The Neysadurai Centre’s modeling process helps communities and institutions plan today while managing the unknown future. “In addition to planned change, the model’s simulation capabilities are particularly valuable in the face of uncertain future conditions,” notes Myers. “For example, we can look at the impacts a community might experience with changing climate conditions.”
“I believe the power of the Neysadurai Centre’s integrated planning services lies in our ability to bring together CDM Smith's cross-discipline expertise, apply simulation technologies and model design solutions in a virtual laboratory before investments are made,” observes Lopez Calva. “By creating collaborative, stakeholder-focused platforms, we enable our clients to align goals and outcomes with implementation strategies that create economically vibrant, environmentally responsible and sustainable communities.”