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This week, the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) is sparking discussion amongst scientists, researchers and experts from around the world on a pressing issue for the state of Maryland: how to ensure a more sustainable future for the Baltimore-Washington area. The task is an arduous one, in that it requires the convergence of a variety of complex models in environmental science, demographics, climate change, transportation, energy and economics. It also requires a careful examination and understanding of where human activity and environmental issues intersect.

In 2014, the NCSG launched the PRESTO project (Plan for Regional Sustainability Tomorrow) to examine these relationships firsthand and develop a cutting-edge suite of integrated social and environmental models to better explore issues of sustainability in the region. This week’s three-day workshop in Annapolis is the first of three that will examine PRESTO’s progress, utilizing the input of experts who have seen success in other parts of the world and that have knowledge of how to bring the many complex models to replicate regionally appropriate responses. PRESTO is funded by the Town Creek Foundation. The workshop is being hosted by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC).

“We’ve received interest from agencies at the federal, state and local levels in learning how these linkages influence the sustainability of the region,” said Gerrit Knaap, Director of the NCSG and lead investigator in PRESTO. “Through PRESTO we are using a highly developed set of data and analytic tools to integrate these models. Done correctly, the result will be a sustainability strategy that can shape policy in the region and foster a more sustainable future.”

Learn more about PRESTO here.