Prospects for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow – Previous

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Project Overview

Read Our Latest Report - Engaging the Future: Baltimore-Washington 2040

The multi-year goal for this project is to develop, disseminate, and promote the implementation of a sustainable development strategy for the Baltimore-Washington region.  Well known examples of similar efforts include privately financed and promoted plans such as the Burnham plan for Chicago, the Wallace-McHarg plan for the Valleys, and the series of plans for greater metropolitan New York prepared by the Regional Planning Association. These plans or strategies were not prepared for or adopted by any public agency but were highly influential for decades after they were released.

Our first-year goal for the project is to stimulate a science-based conversation about sustainability in this region and to develop one or more baseline scenarios.  We will stimulate the dialog by considering the key driving forces that will shape the future of the region and by deploying a highly developed set of data and analytic tools to develop baseline scenarios.

Scenario Planning

The PRESTO project utilizes the latest methods in scenario planning in order to develop strategies for a more sustainable Baltimore Washington Region. With support of the Scientific Advisory Committee, the project team examined major outside driving forces that will impact the sustainability of the region, including the price of energy, the rate of technological development, and the level of government intervention in land use policies. These driving forces combine in four divergent scenarios for the future of the Baltimore Washington Region. By examining a range of possible futures, the research team will be able to determine which policies are robust in all potential futures for advancing sustainability outcome in the region.

Integrated Modeling

To examine the impacts of the PRESTO scenario, NCSG has developed a unique integrated modeling suite that connects economic, land use, and transportation drivers to environmental and equity outcomes. At the core of the modeling suite are the Maryland Statewide Transportation Model (MSTM) and Simple Integrated Land Use Orchestrator (SILO). These models simulate the feedback between the use of the transportation network and household location decisions. The results from these models feed into the Mobile Emissions Model (MEM) and Building Emissions Model (BEM) it order to determine the energy requirements, CO2 emissions, and local pollution impacts. Finally the results from SILO are translated into land cover changes by the Chesapeake Bay Land Change Model (CBLCM).

In the next phase of model integration, the team will connect Integrated Transport and Health Impact Modelling Tool (ITHIM) to the transportation and emissions model to understand the health impacts of transportation. Additionally, the CBLCM will be connected to the Chesepeake Bay Model in order to determine the impact of land cover changes on the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.


The Town Creek Foundation

The Town Creek Foundation was established in 1981 by Edmund “Ted” Stanley, a retired printing industry executive. They support research and stakeholder engagement processes to develop strategies for confronting Maryland’s most important environmental challenges. They fund organizing and advocacy campaigns to build public support for stronger environmental policies and support administrative advocacy and litigation to reduce pollution and hold polluters accountable. Through all of this they are helping to build a bigger, stronger, and more diverse base of environmentally engaged Marylanders.

In the Fall of 2010 the Town Creek Foundation Board of Trustees decided to ‘sunset’ the foundation over a ten year period. With particular respect to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and transitioning Maryland to a low carbon economy, they believe that the urgency of the challenges and the promise of the opportunities is such as to warrant a full commitment. Accordingly, the Town Creek Foundation chose to invest in the Plan for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow in order to create a vision of sustainability as an organizational legacy.


The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) brings together the science of the natural world with the science of human behavior and decision-making to find solutions to complex environmental problems. We convene science teams to work on broad issues of national and international relevance, such as water resources management, land management, agriculture, species protection, among other areas of study. By supporting interdisciplinary science teams and researchers with diverse skills, data, and perspectives, SESYNC seeks to lead in-depth research and scholarship that will inform decisions and accelerate scientific discovery. SESYNC is funded by an award to the University of Maryland from the National Science Foundation. Learn more about SESYNC.


Outside Partners

Raleigh Hood
Dr. Hood began his research career as a biological oceanographer when he was an undergraduate at the University of Washington, studying harmful algae blooms in Puget Sound, Washington State.  He has since conducted research in coastal and open ocean environments all over the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and both the east and west coasts of North America.  Presently his research is focused primarily on using models to simulate and predict biogeochemical and ecological variability in marine environments.

Peter Bishop
Facilitator and Former Director of the University of Houston Graduate Program in Foresight
Dr. Bishop is a retired Associate Professor of Strategic Foresight and Director of the graduate program in Foresight at the University of Houston. He also facilitates groups in developing scenarios, visions, and strategic plans for the future. Dr. Bishop is a founding Board member of the Association of Professional Futurists and President of his own firm, Strategic Foresight and Development, that offers training and facilitation to businesses and government agencies.

Tim Welch
Assistant Director, Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development, Georgia Tech
Dr. Welch is an Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology. An expert in the field of transportation & land use policy, planning & forecasting and freight, he holds graduate degrees in law and urban planning. Welch is widely published, with a recent focus on issues related to transportation behavior, connectivity, equity and environment. Tim received his PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of Maryland.

Peter Claggett
Research Geographer, Chesapeake Bay Program: US Geological Survey
Peter is a Research Geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Eastern Geographic Science Center and has worked at the Chesapeake Bay Program Office (CBPO) since 2002. Peter leads the Land Data Team at the CBPO which conducts research on land change characterization, analysis, and modeling in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.  Peter led the development of the Chesapeake Bay Land Change Model and urban land use data for use in the Phase 5.x watershed models.

The Scientific Advisory Committee

The Scientific Advisory Committee meets every two to three months on order to advise the direction of the PRESTO project. The committee includes technical experts in watersheds, energy, demographics, transportation, economics, and neighborhood development. The members of the committee inform the teams understanding of the forces driving the region, the enhancement of NCSG models for the purpose of measuring sustainability, and the crafting of future scenarios.

Antonia Busalacchi
Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland

Arjun Mukhijani
President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Christine Conn
Director, Strategic Land Planning at Office for a Sustainable Future with Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Don Boesch
Professor of Marine Science and President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Jeffrey F. Werling
Executive Director, INFORUM

John Papagni
Program Officer, Division of Neighborhood Revitalization, DHCD

Kevin Lucas
Division Director of Policy, Planning & Analysis, Maryland Energy Administration

Margaret A. Palmer
Professor of Entomology, University of Maryland and Director, National Socio-environmental

Mark Goldstein
Demographic and Socioeconomic Projections Unit, MDP

Marty Baker
Manager of Community Planning, Maryland Department of Transportation

Mary Kendell
Program Officer, Division of Neighborhood Revitalization, DHCD

Paul Desjardin
Director of Department of Community Planning and Services (CPS), WashCOG

Seema Iyer
Associate Director, Jacob France Institute

Ted Cochin
Environmental Protection Specialist, Smart Growth Program, EPA

Todd Lang
Director, Transportation Division, Baltimore Metropolitan Council


Team Leads

Gerrit Knaap, Executive Director, NCSG
Uri Avin, Research Professor, NCSG

Additional Team Members

Frederick Ducca, Senior Research Scientist, NCSG
Sevgi Erdogen, Faculty Research Associate, NCSG
Daniel Engelberg, Faculty Research Assistant, NCSG

Presto Reports