LOS ANGELES — AECOM Technology Corp., a provider of professional technical and management support services for government and commercial clients, recently presented on the use of GeoDesign for sustainable design and planning at the Esri GeoDesign Summit, held Jan. 6-7 in Redlands, Calif. GeoDesign is a design and planning method that combines the creation of design proposals with impact simulations informed by geographic contexts, which contributes to more sustainable outcomes.

During the summit, Matthew Palavido, a senior geographic information systems (GIS) specialist, Design + Planning at AECOM, and colleague Vishal Bhargava, a senior associate urban designer and land planner, gave a presentation on sustainable design and planning, and also debuted the Sustainable Systems Integration Model (SSIM) Analyst, a custom extension developed by AECOM that broadens Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop 10 software.

“A GeoDesign-based approach has multiple benefits,” Palavido said. “This approach provides the quantitative metrics required for design evaluation; enables modeling and visualization in real time; incorporates multiple systems in the design process; allows for optimal application of measures/strategies and cost efficiency; and promotes the development of high-performance land plans.”

Palavido and Bhargava also demonstrated the uses of innovative techniques for spatial urban design analysis and its integration with a comprehensive sustainability evaluation system that ties design decisions to economics, environmental, and climate change implications.

“Rather than relying purely on the intuitive judgment by reviewers, the SSIM Framework uses GIS to calculate key performance indicators (KPIs) using programmatic and spatial patterns (urban form) of the plan alternatives,” Bhargava said. “These KPIs are then presented in a rational, quantifiable, and transparent decision process.”

SSIM evaluates performance metrics for the amount of carbon emissions, density, energy use, land-use mix, projected costs, and water use. The team also presented a version of the tool that can be used to evaluate Green House Gas reduction strategies at a city-wide scale.

“By using SSIM Analyst and the SSIM framework, we are able to complete the process of gathering and evaluating performance metrics for sustainability, in the most cost-effective and efficient way,” Palavido said.

The SSIM Analyst Extension for ArcGIS was developed using VB.NET and Esri’s ArcObjects. It includes a complete suite of tools integrated within the ArcGIS Desktop platform to model, evaluate, and visualize complex spatial relationships within land use plans.

AECOM professionals have used SSIM Analyst and the SSIM framework to design numerous projects around the world including the Jurong Lake Master Plan in Singapore; a greenfield development in Australia; Fairfield Train Station Specific Plan in California; and Beitang New Town Master Sustainability Modeling Based Programming in Tianjin, China.

For more information on the GeoDesign Summit, click here.