Ecosystem guidance for the incorporation of renewable utilities in a multi-use campus network

PLoS One. 2022 May 19;17(5):e0267431. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267431. eCollection 2022.


Configuring the network connections in industrial, power, and water networks to mimic the structural patterns of ecological food webs has been shown to improve the resilience of human networks. This work investigates the ability of food web inspiration to specifically guide the incorporation of renewable energy and water sources for resilience. Feasibility is tested using the water and electricity networks of the Texas A&M University main campus, demonstrating the potential of university campus case studies as analogies for other multi-use networks, such as cities or industrial-commercial regions, due to the variety of functions met within the system boundaries. Ecological robustness, the unique and characteristic behavior of ecosystems to slightly favor redundancy over efficiency, is used to correlate the incorporation and supply-levels of solar power and rainwater collection in a realistic campus model with the overall resilience of the electricity and domestic water networks. Non-obviously, the results suggest that the ecologically-similar resilience is achieved when less than 100% of utilities come from renewable sources, indicating an important potential tradeoff between efforts to shift to 100% renewable sources and network resilience concerns.

PMID:35588134 | PMC:PMC9119446 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0267431


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