Integrated assessment across building and urban scales: A review and proposal for a more holistic, multi-scale, system-of-systems approach

Chenyang Bi and John C.Little

Department of Energy, Office of Science, Earth & Environmental Systems Modeling Program Acknowledged Support: No, other Non-DOE EESM source of support


Humanity is facing major societal challenges that are complex and systemic in the nature of their drivers, interactions, and impacts. Because buildings and cities play a substantial role in these societal challenges, we need reliable approaches that can be used to assess their resilience and sustainability. Given that building and urban systems are usually tightly coupled, we critically review nine building-scale assessment frameworks and seven urban-scale assessment frameworks, ranking them from high to low in terms of the causality among component systems. We identify four major knowledge gaps that, to varying degrees, span the entire range of assessment frameworks: (1) causality among component systems and their subsystems is limited; (2) sustainability and resilience are too narrowly defined; (3) social systems are inadequately addressed; and (4) building- and urban-scale assessments are poorly connected. To address these limitations, we briefly introduce several closely-related fields of research including integrated assessment and modeling, social-ecological systems research, land systems science, socio-environmental systems modeling, modeling of human behavior, multi-scale modeling, and multi-fidelity modeling. Building on these rapidly emerging research domains, we conclude by proposing a more holistic, multi-scale, system-of-systems approach that connects across building and urban scales using several common systems.

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