The need for sustainable development of the urban environment presents the research community with a number of challenges and opportunities. A considerable volume of research has been undertaken into the constituent parts of this complex problem and a number of tool kits and methodologies have been developed to enable and encourage the application of specific aspects of research in practice. However, there is limited evidence of the holistic integration of the body of knowledge arising from the research within real-life decision-making practices. In this paper we present an overview of the existing body of knowledge relating to sustainable development of the urban environment and propose a generic framework for its integration within current practices. This framework recognises the need to: understand social, economic, and environmental issues; understand the decision-making processes; provide a means of measurement, assessment, or valuation of the issues; provide analytical methods for the comparative assessment of complex data to enable an evaluation of strategies and design options and to communicate effectively throughout the process with a wide range of stakeholders. The components of a novel sustainability assessment, visualisation and enhancement (SAVE) framework, developed by the authors to ‘operationalise’ the body of knowledge are presented and justified. These include: decision-mapping methods to identify points of intervention; indicator identification and measurement approaches; appropriate mathematical and analytical tools and an interactive simulation and visualisation platform which integrates and communicates complex multivariate information to diverse stakeholder groups. We report on the application of the SAVE framework to a major urban development project and reflect on its current and potential impact on the development. Conclusions are also drawn about its general applicability.
- Decision analysis