Urban metabolism and resource optimisation in the urban fabric: The BRIDGE methodology
Like any living system, urban communities consume material and energy inputs, process them into usable forms, and eliminate the wastes from the process. This can be seen as "metabolism" of industry, commerce, municipal operations and households. Understanding the pattern of these energy and material flows through a community's economy provides a systemic reading of the present situation for goal and objective setting and development of indicators for sustainability. At present, planning policies often reflect the logic of the market. They would better reflect a vision of urban development, in which environmental and social considerations are fully embedded in spatial planning policies at all steps of the policy cycle from problem identification and policy design through to the implementation and expost evaluation stages. Therefore, the widespread inclusion of sustainability objectives in urban planning from regional to site level is necessary, providing the opportunity for the incorporation of bio-physical sciences knowledge into the planning process on a routine basis. To this end, the project BRIDGE (sustainaBle uRban plannIng Decision support accountinG for urban mEtabolism) aims at bridging the gap between bio-physical sciences and urban planners and at illustrating the advantages of accounting for environmental issues on a routine basis in design decisions. BRIDGE will provide the means to quantitative estimate the various components of the urban metabolism (observation of physical flows and modelling), the means for quantitative estimate their impacts (socio-economic and environmental impact assessments and indicators), as well as the means for resource optimisation in urban fabric (support the decision making in urban planning). BRIDGE focuses on the interrelation between energy and material flows and urban structure. The methodology and the conceptual design of the BRIDGE Decision Support System are presented in this study.