Prospects for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow (PRESTO)



The Center, with the support of the Town Creek Foundation, has developed PRESTO, a futures testing framework to inform Maryland’s citizens, advocacy groups, and decision-makers about the major forces that will affect the region’s development over the next 25 years. By examining these forces and combining them into scenarios, PRESTO provides a picture of their potential impact, individually and in combination.

Smarter Roads, Smarter Cars, Smarter Growth?


Can our region maintain its dynamic economy and quality of life if the future promises inexorable traffic gridlock? We address the gridlock part of this question by creating scenarios of possible futures that address congestion in various ways. The prospect of autonomous vehicles sharply differentiates these scenarios. We assess policies that do very little, that add new tolled roads, or that assume smarter growth patterns. We analyze their impacts on population location, travel patterns, transit ridership, and greenhouse gases. We develop policy recommendations that are generally robust or that are contingent on specific outcomes. You’ll find that some of these options differ from ones currently being considered.

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Engaging the future: Baltimore - Washington 2040


Numerous forces will disrupt our future in the region. At the least, changes in technology and energy costs and in how we address these ensure some  unpredictability. One way to plan for uncertainty is to create plausible future scenarios and assess their impacts. PRESTO creates four distinct scenarios for the Baltimore-Washington region, each very different than a simple continuation of current trends, policies and forces. PRESTO’s interconnected models test the impact of these scenarios on a range of quality of life factors. None of these impacts are inevitable. But identifying them can spur strategies and policies that produce a more resilient and sustainable future for the region.

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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.

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