A System Dynamics Simulation-Based Sustainability Benchmarking

Sustainability assessment is a multi-faceted, dynamic, and complex paradigm in the context of buildings with several social, economic, and environmental interactions. The building sector lacks a robust sustainability evaluation and benchmarking mechanism. Consequently, a system-thinking approach can solve these challenges due to its ability to evaluate complex systems.

Through a series of system simulations, a benchmarking scale is developed to indicate the sustainability of the building at high, medium, and low levels based on the defined criteria. Results indicate the sustainability behavior of different buildings in comparison to achievable industry benchmarks for the building type evaluated while recommending measures for improvement to achieve better sustainability.

Using system dynamics, a range of scenarios can be generated and evaluated for buildings, which are then used to develop benchmarks for their sustainability performance. Generating scenarios helps investigate the impact of various interventions taken today on future development plans. Hence, using simulation to generate a wide range of scenarios could help policymakers and project stakeholders visualize and plan building projects better.

Developing a system dynamics-based framework helps to quantify interactions as well as account for uncertainties such as changing electricity consumption with time and varying material, water, and energy usage conditions. The system dynamics framework is developed using AnyLogic software. The advantage of system dynamics simulation in sustainability assessment is that it provides a good amount of flexibility in evaluating numerous scenarios and incorporating various strategies. A Python program is designed and integrated with AnyLogic using the py-communicator plugin to make it an integrated system dynamics benchmarking framework.

The policy interventions on the chosen 18 projects and the scenario analysis enable the development of a sustainability performance benchmark scale for evaluating similar projects. It can be effectively used for standardizing and setting benchmarks for sustainability performance in the building sector.

Systems dynamics modeling framework
Systems dynamics modeling framework

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