Ecological urban dynamics and spatial modeling

Brian Deal, Donald F. Fournier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the current literature includes discussions relating to the sustainability of the built human community, planning professions have focused their attention on continued technological solutions to environmental problems. These interventions attempt to stabilize the problem at hand through further technological infusion increasing the gap between the origination of the problem and ecologically sound solutions. Ecological sustainability, however, involves the identification of ecologically sound alternatives to current practices. In the urban ecosystem this means the identification of the processes of urban change. New theory, tools, and methods of research in ecological systems promise to improve our understanding of the dynamics of change in urban environments. We now have access to a variety of sophisticated computational and theoretical tools for characterizing urban systems at a conceptual level, and for visualizing and understanding these characterizations. A multi-disciplinary, systems modeling approach, using geographic information systems (GIS) and dynamic computer modeling techniques allows researchers and professionals to address urban dynamics in greater detail at a greater variety of scales and interfaces. This paper focuses on an integrated, ecological and engineering approach to modeling urban dynamics. A spatially explicit computer model is developed to visually examine the dynamic spread of human development across a watershed in the metro Chicago area. The technique allows for the evaluation of environmental and energy related impacts caused by urban growth and development. Results of the model are used to develop scenarios that support policy level changes aimed at softening the ecological strain of human development patterns and increasing resource efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9.59-9.70
JournalProceedings ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecological urban dynamics and spatial modeling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this