Ecological urban dynamics: The convergence of spatial modelling and sustainability

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Planning professions have focused their attention on continued technological solutions to environmental problems despite discussions relating to the sustainability of the built human community. However, ecological sustainability involves the identification of ecologically sound alternatives to current practices, not necessarily involving technological intervention. In the urban ecosystem this means the identification of the processes of urban change. New theory, tools, and research methods in ecological systems have the potential to improve the dynamics of change in urban environments. A variety of sophisticated computational and theoretical tools exist for characterizing urban systems at a conceptual level, and for visualizing and understanding these characterizations. The theoretical underpinnings and practical application of the integrated, multi-disciplinary, ecological and engineering approach to modelling urbanland use transformation is presented. A new tool, LEAM (Land use Evolution and Impact Assessment Model), has been developed to provide researchers and professionals to address urban dynamics in greater detail at a variety of scales and interfaces. The conceptual framework of the LEAM model is provided, followed by an application of the model to a 'collar county' in the metro Chicago area. The model can visually examine the dynamic spread of human development in the county and the associated environmental impacts of the urban growth and development patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages13
Specialist publicationBuilding Research and Information
StatePublished - Sep 2001


  • Ecology
  • Environmental assessment
  • Planning
  • Simulation modelling
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Tools
  • United States
  • Urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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