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Special Issue "Sustainable Urban Development"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Steffen Lehmann (Website)

Sustainable Cities Research Theme Leader, Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCi), The University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 2DJ, United Kingdom
Fax: +61 8 9266 2711
Interests: green urbanism; climate change impact; high-performance architecture; energy-efficient cities

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

At the start of the 21st century, humanity is a predominantly urban species. This special issue is about the future of cities and how urbanisation will develop when based on principles of sustainability. It explores the underlying dimensions of the transformation of existing cities and the design of low carbon green precincts and their urban systems. The view of the papers presented in this special issue are holistic and take questions of social sustainability into account. The aim is to define a new agenda of change for sustainable urban development that can be transferred and replicated in other cities: urban solutions and success stories (case studies) to ensure we are all aware of the possibilities towards 'the urban future we want'.

Prof. Dr. Steffen Lehmann
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • High-performance low carbon precincts
  • Integration of low carbon technologies into social/behavioural context
  • Complex urban systems
  • Resilient communities and sustainable consumption
  • Urban microclimates

Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial A New Urban Agenda: Introduction to the Special Issue on “Sustainable Urban Development”
Sustainability 2015, 7(8), 10000-10006; doi:10.3390/su70810000
Received: 20 July 2015 / Revised: 21 July 2015 / Accepted: 21 July 2015 / Published: 24 July 2015
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Abstract
Since the start of the 21st century, humanity has been a predominantly urban species. This Special Issue is about the future of cities and how urbanization will develop when based on principles of sustainability. It explores the underlying dimensions of the transformation [...] Read more.
Since the start of the 21st century, humanity has been a predominantly urban species. This Special Issue is about the future of cities and how urbanization will develop when based on principles of sustainability. It explores the underlying dimensions of the transformation of existing cities and the design of low carbon green precincts and their urban systems. The view of the papers presented in this Special Issue is holistic and takes questions of social sustainability into account. This editorial highlights the contents and methodologies of 13 selected papers, while presenting diverse issues in strategies, concepts and policies for sustainable urban development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Open AccessArticle The New Global Urban Realm: Complex, Connected, Diffuse, and Diverse Social-Ecological Systems
Sustainability 2015, 7(5), 5211-5240; doi:10.3390/su7055211
Received: 12 January 2015 / Revised: 7 April 2015 / Accepted: 10 April 2015 / Published: 28 April 2015
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (920 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urbanization continues to be a transformative process globally, affecting ecosystem integrity and the health and well being of people around the world. Although cities tend to be centers for both the production and consumption of goods and services that degrade natural environments, [...] Read more.
Urbanization continues to be a transformative process globally, affecting ecosystem integrity and the health and well being of people around the world. Although cities tend to be centers for both the production and consumption of goods and services that degrade natural environments, there is also evidence that urban ecosystems can play a positive role in sustainability efforts. Despite the fact that most of the urbanization is now occurring in the developing countries of the Global South, much of what we know about urban ecosystems has been developed from studying cities in the United States and across Europe. We propose a conceptual framework to broaden the development of urban ecological research and its application to sustainability. Our framework describes four key contemporary urban features that should be accounted for in any attempt to build a unified theory of cities that contributes to urban sustainability efforts. We evaluated a range of examples from cities around the world, highlighting how urban areas are complex, connected, diffuse and diverse and what these interconnected features mean for the study of urban ecosystems and sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Ecological Footprints and Lifestyle Archetypes: Exploring Dimensions of Consumption and the Transformation Needed to Achieve Urban Sustainability
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 4747-4763; doi:10.3390/su7044747
Received: 20 December 2014 / Revised: 15 March 2015 / Accepted: 8 April 2015 / Published: 21 April 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (695 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The global urban transition increasingly positions cities as important influencers in determining sustainability outcomes. Urban sustainability literature tends to focus on the built environment as a solution space for reducing energy and materials demand; however, equally important is the consumption characteristics of [...] Read more.
The global urban transition increasingly positions cities as important influencers in determining sustainability outcomes. Urban sustainability literature tends to focus on the built environment as a solution space for reducing energy and materials demand; however, equally important is the consumption characteristics of the people who occupy the city. While size of dwelling and motor vehicle ownership are partially influenced by urban form, they are also influenced by cultural and socio-economic characteristics. Dietary choices and purchases of consumable goods are almost entirely driven by the latter. Using international field data that document urban ways of living, I develop lifestyle archetypes coupled with ecological footprint analysis to develop consumption benchmarks in the domains of: food, buildings, consumables, transportation, and water that correspond to various levels of demand on nature’s services. I also explore the dimensions of transformation that would be needed in each of these domains for the per capita consumption patterns of urban dwellers to achieve ecological sustainability. The dimensions of transformation needed commensurate with ecological carrying capacity include: a 73% reduction in household energy use, a 96% reduction in motor vehicle ownership, a 78% reduction in per capita vehicle kilometres travelled, and a 79% reduction in air kilometres travelled. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Setting Priorities for Urban Forest Planning. A Comprehensive Response to Ecological and Social Needs for the Metropolitan Area of Rome (Italy)
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 3958-3976; doi:10.3390/su7043958
Received: 21 January 2015 / Revised: 19 March 2015 / Accepted: 31 March 2015 / Published: 3 April 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (9130 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban forests represent key elements of green infrastructure and provide essential ecosystem services in both the ecological and social spheres. Therefore, forestation planning plays a decisive role in the sustainable development strategies of metropolitan areas and addresses the challenge of maintaining biodiversity [...] Read more.
Urban forests represent key elements of green infrastructure and provide essential ecosystem services in both the ecological and social spheres. Therefore, forestation planning plays a decisive role in the sustainable development strategies of metropolitan areas and addresses the challenge of maintaining biodiversity while improving human health and well-being. The aim of this work is to present a methodological approach that can be used to identify priorities in urban forest planning and can provide comprehensive responses to ecological and social needs in any metropolitan context. The approach, which is based on interdisciplinary principles of landscape ecology, ecosystem geography and dynamic plant sociology, has been adopted in the Municipality of Rome (Italy). The first step entails defining an ecological framework for forestation plans by means of the ecological land classification and assessment of landscape conservation status. The second step entails setting forestation priorities according to both ecological and social criteria. The application of the method proved to effectively select limited areas requiring intervention within an extensive metropolitan area. Furthermore, it provided responses to sustainability issues such as long-term maintenance of restored habitats, landscape perspective of planning, greening of urban agriculture, improvement in urban resilience, and cost-effective improvement in ecosystem services provision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle An Ecology for Cities: A Transformational Nexus of Design and Ecology to Advance Climate Change Resilience and Urban Sustainability
Sustainability 2015, 7(4), 3774-3791; doi:10.3390/su7043774
Received: 18 December 2014 / Revised: 12 March 2015 / Accepted: 23 March 2015 / Published: 31 March 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1814 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cities around the world are facing an ever-increasing variety of challenges that seem to make more sustainable urban futures elusive. Many of these challenges are being driven by, and exacerbated by, increases in urban populations and climate change. Novel solutions are needed [...] Read more.
Cities around the world are facing an ever-increasing variety of challenges that seem to make more sustainable urban futures elusive. Many of these challenges are being driven by, and exacerbated by, increases in urban populations and climate change. Novel solutions are needed today if our cities are to have any hope of more sustainable and resilient futures. Because most of the environmental impacts of any project are manifest at the point of design, we posit that this is where a real difference in urban development can be made. To this end, we present a transformative model that merges urban design and ecology into an inclusive, creative, knowledge-to-action process. This design-ecology nexus—an ecology for cities—will redefine both the process and its products. In this paper we: (1) summarize the relationships among design, infrastructure, and urban development, emphasizing the importance of joining the three to achieve urban climate resilience and enhance sustainability; (2) discuss how urban ecology can move from an ecology of cities to an ecology for cities based on a knowledge-to-action agenda; (3) detail our model for a transformational urban design-ecology nexus, and; (4) demonstrate the efficacy of our model with several case studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Transition Thinking Incorporated: Towards a New Discussion Framework on Sustainable Urban Projects
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 3269-3289; doi:10.3390/su7033269
Received: 19 December 2014 / Revised: 5 March 2015 / Accepted: 5 March 2015 / Published: 18 March 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (698 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Today, cities worldwide are engaged in urban projects and activities in a concerted drive towards sustainable development. However, the concept of “sustainable urban projects” is inherently normative, subjective and ambiguous. Furthermore, the popularity of sustainable urban initiatives does not guarantee that increased [...] Read more.
Today, cities worldwide are engaged in urban projects and activities in a concerted drive towards sustainable development. However, the concept of “sustainable urban projects” is inherently normative, subjective and ambiguous. Furthermore, the popularity of sustainable urban initiatives does not guarantee that increased pressure on dominant unsustainable urban systems will occur. In this article, we argue that strong urban debates on these initiatives and on urban sustainability are required to facilitate and stimulate urban systems towards a more socially just and environmentally sustainable future. When we say “urban debates” we mean substantive talks and detailed discussions about the type of cities we want to live in and about a shared understanding of sustainable urban projects and how they affect urban systems. We aim to contribute to that objective by developing a discussion framework on sustainable urban projects that frames sustainable development as a challenge that concentrates on both ecological and social concerns and that avoids a sole reliance on technology fixes. But above all, we also incorporate insights and findings from transition thinking to focus on radical changes or transformations of urban systems and to acknowledge the importance of so-called “niches”. In this article we describe the fundamentals, the surplus value and the utility of the framework. The article contains empirical material from a pilot-study in Ghent, Belgium. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Lost in Transition or Geared for the S-Curve? An Analysis of Flemish Transition Trajectories with a Focus on Energy Use and Buildings
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2415-2436; doi:10.3390/su7032415
Received: 20 December 2014 / Revised: 18 January 2015 / Accepted: 16 February 2015 / Published: 27 February 2015
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1503 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years, many cities have adopted action plans to become climate neutral in the coming decades. Hereby, a strong motivational factor has been the goal to realize a win-win situation in the long term: climate neutrality and sustainable functioning are not [...] Read more.
In recent years, many cities have adopted action plans to become climate neutral in the coming decades. Hereby, a strong motivational factor has been the goal to realize a win-win situation in the long term: climate neutrality and sustainable functioning are not only beneficial for the environment, but are equally beneficial for society and for the economy if well-integrated trajectories are adopted. Nevertheless, as actors across the fields start to implement these plans, many practical obstacles have arisen. These barriers are typical of a systemic transition: dominant practices are characterized by path dependencies, vast institutional frameworks and vested interests that are hard to break through. At the same time, relevant initiatives typically show some elements of uncertainty and a long term return, factors that make it difficult to attract financial investments. The present article addresses the state of the art for current transition experiments in the region of Flanders, Belgium, focusing on actions related to energy and buildings in cities. A brief overview of the state of affairs in several cities and provinces is presented, and some important opportunities and bottlenecks are identified. The resultant findings are tested against the framework of transition theory and related literature on the subject. Subsequently, a set of possible strategies to overcome the above mentioned barriers is formulated. These strategies focus on effectively mobilizing actors and investments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Low Carbon Urban Transitioning: From Local Experimentation to Urban Transformation?
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2437-2453; doi:10.3390/su7032437
Received: 23 December 2014 / Revised: 10 February 2015 / Accepted: 17 February 2015 / Published: 27 February 2015
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (711 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change mitigation remains a contested political and policy issue nationally in Australia. Nevertheless, Australian cities have been actively engaging with low carbon policy for well over a decade and numerous actions and programs have resulted. A question arises as to whether [...] Read more.
Climate change mitigation remains a contested political and policy issue nationally in Australia. Nevertheless, Australian cities have been actively engaging with low carbon policy for well over a decade and numerous actions and programs have resulted. A question arises as to whether such initiatives can amount to a transition; a systemic change from one dominant fossil-fuel based socio-technical regime, to another, fossil-free based socio-technical regime. In this paper, we review the critical literature on low carbon governance and socio-technical transitions and present a set of criteria by which we propose it is possible to assess the emergence of and/or progress towards low carbon urban transition. We then apply this approach to a case study. The paper presents findings from a review of low carbon initiatives in Australia with a particular focus on Melbourne, Victoria exploring the policy context in which these initiatives and responses have emerged, the typical approaches adopted and the implications for urban change and governance. We examine the roles of, and relationships between, different levels of government, climate change alliances, community/environmental organisations and other actors, and assess progress of the urban low carbon transition. In so doing, we identify significant shortcomings and policy disconnects which we argue are limiting progress towards a low carbon future in Victoria. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability Assessment of the Residential Land Use in Seven Boroughs of the Island of Montreal, Canada
Sustainability 2015, 7(3), 2454-2472; doi:10.3390/su7032454
Received: 18 December 2014 / Accepted: 16 February 2015 / Published: 27 February 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3933 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
High resource utilization in the residential sector, and the associated environmental impacts, are central issues in the growth of urban regions. Land-use urban planning is a primary instrument for the proper development of cities; an important point is the consideration of the [...] Read more.
High resource utilization in the residential sector, and the associated environmental impacts, are central issues in the growth of urban regions. Land-use urban planning is a primary instrument for the proper development of cities; an important point is the consideration of the urban form’s influence on resource utilization intensity. Emergy synthesis, an energy-based methodological approach that allows the quantification and integration of both natural and human-generated flows interacting in urban environments, was used to assess sustainability of the residential land use of seven boroughs on the Island of Montreal. Natural resources, food, water, acquired goods and services, electricity and fuels were the main flows considered in the analysis. Results suggest that income, household size and distance to downtown are the variables affecting resource utilization intensity more noticeably and that allocation of green area coverage is an important parameter for controlling land use intensity. With the procedure used for calculating resource use intensity in the seven boroughs, it is possible to generate a tool to support urban planning decision-making for assessing sustainable development scenarios. Future research should consider urban green space potential for accommodating local waste treatment systems, acting as a greenhouse gas emissions sink and promoting human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
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Open AccessArticle Local Governments Supporting Local Energy Initiatives: Lessons from the Best Practices of Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands)
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1900-1931; doi:10.3390/su7021900
Received: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 3 February 2015 / Published: 11 February 2015
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (794 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The social dimension of the transition to a low carbon economy is a key challenge to cities. The establishment of local energy initiatives (LEIs) has recently been attracting attention. It is of great importance to draw lessons from best practices when LEIs [...] Read more.
The social dimension of the transition to a low carbon economy is a key challenge to cities. The establishment of local energy initiatives (LEIs) has recently been attracting attention. It is of great importance to draw lessons from best practices when LEIs have been facilitated by local governments and made a substantial contribution to greening local energy systems. The main research questions in this paper are: What lessons can be drawn from successful local low carbon energy transition cases, and which strategies proved successful to support LEIs? We have used analytical notions from the Strategic Niche Management (SNM) and grassroots innovation literature to analyze two best-practice cases: Saerbeck (Germany) and Lochem (The Netherlands). Data collection involved a set of fourteen in-depth interviews and secondary data. The results show that three key factors from SNM (building networks, managing expectations, and facilitation of learning) are of great importance. However, to a great degree it is also strategic, community serving, responsive, reflexive leadership and proper process management by public officials that spurred success, which would not have been possible without close interaction and mutual trust between local government and representatives of the local communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Sustainability and Competitiveness in Australian Cities
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1840-1860; doi:10.3390/su7021840
Received: 15 November 2014 / Accepted: 4 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1513 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study injects sustainability into competitiveness to inform policy making and planning for contemporary urban development. This is built upon the recent advancement in the scholarship on urban competitiveness that demonstrates a clear deviation from an economic-centric approach to incorporate multiple dimensions [...] Read more.
This study injects sustainability into competitiveness to inform policy making and planning for contemporary urban development. This is built upon the recent advancement in the scholarship on urban competitiveness that demonstrates a clear deviation from an economic-centric approach to incorporate multiple dimensions of a city’s progress. This study has an explicit concern for environmental sustainability and its relationship with urban competitiveness and their conceptual and methodological articulations. Empirically, this study measures the sustainability and competitiveness in Australian cities and reveals that Australia’s urban progress is clearly associated with an environmental cost. The findings are useful to inform policy making and planning for building sustainable and competitive cities. Apart from the conventional solutions that focus on urban form change and transport infrastructure improvement, this study suggests a need to explore the opportunities deriving from the emerging smart city planning and practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle An Integrated Assessment Method for Sustainable Transport System Planning in a Middle Sized German City
Sustainability 2015, 7(2), 1329-1354; doi:10.3390/su7021329
Received: 9 October 2014 / Revised: 15 January 2015 / Accepted: 20 January 2015 / Published: 27 January 2015
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (1393 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Despite climate change mitigation and sustainability agendas, road transport systems in Germany and the resulting environmental burden are growing. Road transport is a significant source of emissions in urban areas and the infrastructure has a significant impact on the urban form. Nevertheless, [...] Read more.
Despite climate change mitigation and sustainability agendas, road transport systems in Germany and the resulting environmental burden are growing. Road transport is a significant source of emissions in urban areas and the infrastructure has a significant impact on the urban form. Nevertheless, mobility is a fundamental requirement for the satisfaction of the human desire to socially and economically engage in society. Considering these realities and the desire for sustainable development in a growing city (Potsdam, Germany), an integrated assessment methodology was co-developed among scientists and practitioners to prioritize a suite of transport-related measures. The methodology reflects the city’s qualitative and quantitative goals to improve public transport and promote sustainability, capturing synergies in categories that include environmental considerations as well as road safety, eco-mobility, and quality of life. This approach applies a multi-criteria analysis (MCA) to derive a practically relevant solution for the local traffic and mobility problems that fosters ownership and accountability of all involved. This paper reflects on the process of developing the MCA, and the different aspects that were found important and required consideration during the process. Recommendations on specific traffic-related measures and the assessment of their effectiveness are not given. The aim is that such process information could foster greater collaboration within city departments and similar transdisciplinary efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle Response of Seismically Isolated Steel Frame Buildings with Sustainable Lead-Rubber Bearing (LRB) Isolator Devices Subjected to Near-Fault (NF) Ground Motions
Sustainability 2015, 7(1), 111-137; doi:10.3390/su7010111
Received: 4 September 2014 / Accepted: 17 December 2014 / Published: 24 December 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (5936 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Base isolation has been used as one of the most wildly accepted seismic protection systems that should substantially dissociate a superstructure from its substructure resting on a shaking ground, thereby sustainably preserving entire structures against earthquake forces as well as inside non-structural [...] Read more.
Base isolation has been used as one of the most wildly accepted seismic protection systems that should substantially dissociate a superstructure from its substructure resting on a shaking ground, thereby sustainably preserving entire structures against earthquake forces as well as inside non-structural integrities. Base isolation devices can operate very effectively against near-fault (NF) ground motions with large velocity pulses and permanent ground displacements. In this study, comparative advantages for using lead-rubber bearing (LRB) isolation systems are mainly investigated by performing nonlinear dynamic time-history analyses with NF ground motions. The seismic responses with respects to base shears and inter-story drifts are compared according to the installation of LRB isolation systems in the frame building. The main function of the base LRB isolator is to extend the period of structural vibration by increasing lateral flexibility in the frame structure, and thus ground accelerations transferred into the superstructure can dramatically decrease. Therefore, these base isolation systems are able to achieve notable mitigation in the base shear. In addition, they make a significant contribution to reducing inter-story drifts distributed over the upper floors. Finally, the fact that seismic performance can be improved by installing isolation devices in the frame structure is emphasized herein through the results of nonlinear dynamic analyses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
Open AccessArticle The Power of Urban Planning on Environmental Sustainability: A Focus Group Study in Finland
Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 6622-6643; doi:10.3390/su6106622
Received: 26 June 2014 / Revised: 22 August 2014 / Accepted: 17 September 2014 / Published: 29 September 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (702 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable communities are promoted as a desirable policy goal and, in particular, local authorities are encouraged to contribute to climate change mitigation through urban planning. Furthermore, recent research takes a broad perspective on the environmental sustainability of urban areas and considers the [...] Read more.
Sustainable communities are promoted as a desirable policy goal and, in particular, local authorities are encouraged to contribute to climate change mitigation through urban planning. Furthermore, recent research takes a broad perspective on the environmental sustainability of urban areas and considers the environmental impact of all consumption. A focus group study was conducted in Finland for the purpose of examining how increased environmental awareness influences urban land use. The 32 participants of three focus groups were professionals of urban planning and environmental sustainability, at both a municipal and a state level. The main finding was that urban planning is viewed as being unable to support environmental sustainability in the broader sense. In general, the participants did not see a connection between urban structure and sustainable lifestyles and only the influence of planning on housing and daily journeys was recognised. Three main reasons for this were identified. Firstly, environmental sustainability in its broader definition is seen as too complex for urban planners to influence alone. Secondly, the dominance of short-term economic issues in decision-making and the lack of co-operation from other stakeholders to achieve environmental aims demotivate land use planners. Thirdly, the prioritisation of urban density may overrule alternative means of promoting environmental sustainability, such as the encouragement of sustainable suburban or non-urban lifestyles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)

Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Open AccessReview Sustainable Water Systems for the City of Tomorrow—A Conceptual Framework
Sustainability 2015, 7(9), 12071-12105; doi:10.3390/su70912071
Received: 19 December 2014 / Revised: 15 August 2015 / Accepted: 24 August 2015 / Published: 1 September 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1166 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban water systems are an example of complex, dynamic human–environment coupled systems which exhibit emergent behaviors that transcend individual scientific disciplines. While previous siloed approaches to water services (i.e., water resources, drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater) have led to great [...] Read more.
Urban water systems are an example of complex, dynamic human–environment coupled systems which exhibit emergent behaviors that transcend individual scientific disciplines. While previous siloed approaches to water services (i.e., water resources, drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater) have led to great improvements in public health protection, sustainable solutions for a growing global population facing increased resource constraints demand a paradigm shift based on holistic management to maximize the use and recovery of water, energy, nutrients, and materials. The objective of this review paper is to highlight the issues in traditional water systems including water demand and use, centralized configuration, sewer collection systems, characteristics of mixed wastewater, and to explore alternative solutions such as decentralized water systems, fit for purpose and water reuse, natural/green infrastructure, vacuum sewer collection systems, and nutrient/energy recovery. This review also emphasizes a system thinking approach for evaluating alternatives that should include sustainability indicators and metrics such as emergy to assess global system efficiency. An example paradigm shift design for urban water system is presented, not as the recommended solution for all environments, but to emphasize the framework of system-level analysis and the need to visualize water services as an organic whole. When water systems are designed to maximize the resources and optimum efficiency, they are more prevailing and sustainable than siloed management because a system is more than the sum of its parts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Urban Development)
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