Theme III: Social/policy impact modeling

The theme focuses on the understanding of diffusion of technology and diffusion of the ecosystem concept to policy making process and their effects to the evolution of human-building ecosystems. The modeling work includes analysis of chaotic signals and complexity in the aggregated performance at the community level that enable the identification of the onset and direction of mixed species emergent behaviors within the building ecosystem, and analysis of latent function; i.e., understanding possible consequences of new technology through social pilot studies.

At the societal level, the diffusion or adoption of technologies, such as more efficient ecosystem construction or more sustainable building practices, can be usefully viewed as a social movement. The progression of a social movement is based upon citizen acceptance, national governmental policies such as the EPA-Energy Star program, non-profit organizational initiatives (USGBC), media coverage, and city and state programs (e.g., Green Sense Program- Support for home modifications). Policy makers depend in part on the evaluation of housing providers’ assessments to determine the effectiveness of programs to stimulate the movement toward more energy efficiency. With limited resources, it is important to assess the cost-benefit of each initiative. The interaction between humans and their environment is one of the factors that can influence social function in general and human behavior in particular. Every change in the environment can render changes in function followed by culture change. A portion of the function introduced by a new structure or technology is predictable, but there are always unforeseen functions. These unpredicted functions may be beneficial, or they may have consequences that can reduce the expected efficiency of new technology. Social pilot studies can provide preliminary results that can help to modify the designing process of the new technology in order to reduce consequences and increase performance.

Theme III will therefore review the status of ecosystem adoption through time and attempt to chart potential strategies for the movement. The methodology developed to identify the onset and direction of mixed species emergent behaviors from system sciences will be applied to the sustainable building ecosystem. The purpose is to better understand the onset phenomena that lead to more active approaches to policy, automation, architectural design, economics and markets, through the exploitation of active feedback loops or other kinds of dynamic manipulation.  To look for onset phenomena, very large sets of contextual data are needed.  The network activities will focus on exploring such models and data sharing methods of access to simulation environments suitable to the models. The inputs of this theme require the outputs of Theme I, and the outputs of Theme III will be used for Theme II and IV. This theme also provides a new perspective for theme V.