Systems Modeling for Sustainability

Coastal housesIEc is assisting EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) on a series of Triple Value Simulation (3VS) modeling initiatives. These models apply “systems thinking” to complex, multi-faceted, regional environmental problems, assessing each problem as part of a larger system and examining how the entire system responds to policy interventions. The goal of each initiative is to understand how the system can be managed to improve the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the geographic region examined.

Each modeling effort begins with stakeholder outreach designed to foster a common understanding of the problem, its causes, and the potential benefits and costs of alternate actions to address the 3vsproblem. Once scoping is complete, the 3VS simulations are structured using systems dynamics modeling approaches. These models are developed in software that allows the analyst to construct a detailed map of interactions in the system. The analyst can then incorporate baseline data trends for key indicators and quantitatively assess causal relationships, feedback loops, and dynamic behaviors of the systems. Simulations are performed over a specified timeframe so that users can see the long-run implications of policy interventions.

Recent 3VS projects that have transitioned from the scoping to the model development stage include modeling of nutrient management in Narragansett Bay (RI), Suffolk County (NY), and Cape Cod (MA); simulation of the impacts of land development on the Delmarva Peninsula in the mid-Atlantic region; and analysis of transportation planning options in Durham (NC).

View Factsheet Client U.S. Environmental Protection Agency