Towards urban resilience through Sustainable Drainage Systems: A multi-objective optimisation problem

J Environ Manage. 2020 Dec 1;275:111173. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111173. Epub 2020 Aug 28.


The necessity of incorporating a resilience-informed approach into urban planning and its decision-making is felt now more than any time previously, particularly in low and middle income countries. In order to achieve a successful transition to sustainable, resilient and cost-effective cities, there is a growing attention given to more effective integration of nature-based solutions, such as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), with other urban components. The experience of SuDS integration with urban planning, in developed cities, has proven to be an effective strategy with a wide range of advantages and lower costs. The effective design and implementation of SuDS requires a multi-objective approach by which all four pillars of SuDS design (i.e., water quality, water quantity, amenity and biodiversity) are considered in connection to other urban, social, and economic aspects and constraints. This study develops a resilience-driven multi-objective optimisation model aiming to provide a Pareto-front of optimised solutions for effective incorporation of SuDS into (peri)urban planning, applied to a case study in Brazil. This model adopts the SuDS's two pillars of water quality and water quantity as the optimisation objectives with its level of spatial distribution as decision variables. Also, an improved quality of life index (iQoL) is developed to re-evaluate the optimal engineering solutions to encompass the amenity and biodiversity pillars of SuDS. Rain barrels, green roofs, bio-retention tanks, vegetation grass swales and permeable pavements are the suitable SuDS options identified in this study. The findings show that the most resilient solutions are costly but this does not guarantee higher iQoL values. Bio-retention tanks and grass swales play effective roles in promotion of water quality resilience but this comes with considerable increase in costs. Permeable pavements and green roofs are effective strategies when flood resilience is a priority. Rain barrel is a preferred solution due to the dominance of residential areas in the study area and the lower cost of this option.

Keywords: Green infrastructure; Multi-objective optimisation; Quality of life; Resilience; Sustainable drainage systems; Urban planning.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Cities
  • Floods
  • Quality of Life*
  • Rain*