Modeling Sustainability in Complex Urban Transportation Systems

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Author Name: 
Kyle Azevedo
Publication Title: 
MS Thesis, Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology
Year: 
2010

Urban transit systems have large variability in temporal and spatial resolution, and are common in
lifecycle analyses and sustainability studies. Unlike analyses with smaller scope or broader
resolution, these systems are composed of numerous interacting layers, each intricate enough to
be a complete system on its own. In addition, detailed interaction with the system environment is
often not accounted for in lifecycle studies, despite its strong potential effects on the problem
domain. To manage such complexity, this thesis suggests a methodology that focuses on
integrating existing modeling constructs in a transparent manner, and capturing structural and
functional relationships for efficient model reuse. The Systems Modeling Language (OMG
SysML™) is used to formally implement the modeling framework. To demonstrate the method, it
is applied to a large scale multi-modal transportation network. Analysis of key network
parameters such as emissions output, well-to-wheel energy use, and system capacity are
presented in a case study of the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area. Results of the case study
highlight several areas that differ from more traditional lifecycle analysis research. External
influences such as regional electricity generation are found to have extremely large effects on
environmental impact of a regional mobility system. The model is used to evaluate various future
scenarios and finds that existing policy measures for curbing energy use and emissions are
insufficient for reducing impact in a growing urban region.