Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Global Enterprise and Sustainable Development (Ming Xu)/Sandbox Sustainable cities

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Due to the numerous value judgments that are inherent within the concept of sustainability, there remains no completely agreed upon definition for what a sustainable city should be or completely agreed upon paradigm for what components should be included. Generally, developmental experts put forth the idea that a sustainable city should meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The ambiguity within this idea leads to a great deal of variation in terms of how cities carry out their attempts to become sustainable.[1]

There are distinct advantages to further defining and working towards the goals of sustainable cities. Humans are social creatures and thrive in urban spaces that foster social connections. Because of this, a shift to more dense, urban living would provide an outlet for social interaction and conditions under which humans can prosper. Contrary to common belief, urban systems can be more environmentally sustainable than rural or suburban living. With people and resource located so close to one another it is possible to save energy and resources things such as food transportation and mass transit systems. Finally, cities benefit the economy by locating human capital in one relatively small geographic area where ideas can be generated.


Buildings provide the infrastructure for a functioning city and allow for many opportunities to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. A commitment to sustainable architecture encompasses all phases of building including the planning, building, and restructuring.

Eco-Industrial Park[edit]

The purpose of an eco-industrial park is to connect a number of firms and organizations to work together to decrease their environmental impact while simultaneously improving their economic performance[2] . The community of businesses accomplishes this goal through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues, such as energy, water, and materials[2] . The components for building an eco-industrial park include natural systems, more efficient use of energy, and more efficient material and water flows[2] Industrial parks should be built to fit into their natural settings in order to reduce environmental impacts, which can be accomplished through plant design, landscaping, and choice of materials. For instance, there is an industrial park in Michigan built by Phoenix Designs that is made almost entirely from recycled materials[3] . The landscaping of the building will include native trees, grasses, and flowers, and the landscaping design will also act as climate shelter for the facility[3].In choosing the materials for building an eco-industrial park, designers must consider the life-cycle analysis of each medium that goes into the building to assess their true impact on the environment and to ensure that they are using the material with the least impact [3].Some examples of efficient energy strategies in industrial parks are flows of steam or heated water from one plant to another, steam connections from firms to provide heating for homes in the area, and using renewable energy such as wind and solar power[2].In terms of material flows, the companies in an eco-industrial park may have common waste treatment facilities, a means for transporting by-products from one plant to another,or anchoring the park around resource recovery companies that are recruited to the location or started from scratch[2] .To create more efficient water flows in industrial parks, the processed water from one plant can be reused by another plant and the parks infrstructure can include a way to collect and reuse storm water runoff [2] .

Urban Farming[edit]

Urban farming is the proccess of growing and distributing food, as well as raising animals, in and around a city. According to the RUAF Foundation, urban farming is different from rural agriculture because "it is integrated into the urban economic and ecological system: urban agriculture is embedded in -and interacting with- the urban ecosystem. Such linkages include the use of urban residents as labourers, use of typical urban resources (like organic waste as compost and urban wastewater for irrigation), direct links with urban consumers, direct impacts on urban ecology (positive and negative), being part of the urban food system, competing for land with other urban functions, being influenced by urban policies and plans, etc"[4]. There are many motivations behind urban agriculture, but in the context of creating a sustainable city, this method of food cultivation saves energy in food transportation and saves costs. In order for urban farming to be a successful method of sustainable food growth, cities most allot a common area for community gardens or farms, as well as a common area for a farmers market in which the foodstuffs grown within the city can be sold to the residents of the urban system[4] .(Read more on the Urban Agriculture page)

Hayes-Valley-Farm by Zoey-Kroll fava-hillside

Urban Infill[edit]

Many cities are currently in a shift from the suburban sprawl model of development to a return to urban dense living. This shift in geographic distribution of population leads to a denser core of city residents. These residents provide a growing demand in many sectors that is reflected in the architectural fabric of the city. This new demand can be supplied by new construction or historic rehabilitation. Sustainable cities will opt for historical rehabilitation wherever possible. Having people live in higher densities not only gives economies of scale but also allows for infrastructure to be more efficient.

Walkable Urbanism[edit]

Walkable urbanism is a development strategy in opposition to suburban sprawl. It advocates housing for a diverse population, a full mix of uses, walkable streets, positive public space, integrated civic and commercial centers, transit orientation and accessible open space. The most clearly defined form of walkable urbanism is known as the Charter of New Urbanism

Individual buildings (LEED)'[edit]

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. LEED recognizes whole building sustainable design by identifying key areas of excellence including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Locations & Linkages, Awareness and Education, Innovation in Design, Regional Priority.[5] In order for a building to become LEED certified sustainability needs to be prioritized in design, construction, and use. One example of sustainable design would be including a certified wood like bamboo. Bamboo is fast growing and has an incredibly replacement rate after being harvested. BY the far the most credits are rewarded for optimizing energy performance. This promotes innovative thinking about alternative forms of energy and encourages increased efficiency.


As major focus of the sustainable cities, sustainable transportation attempts to reduce a city’s reliance and use of greenhouse emitting gases by utilizing eco friendly urban planning, low environmental impact vehicles, and residential proximity to create an urban center that has greater environmental responsibility and social equity.

Due to the significant impact that transportation services have on a city’s energy consumption, the last decade has seen an increasing emphasis on sustainable transportation by developmental experts. Currently, transportation systems account for nearly a quarter of the world’s energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission. In order to reduce the environmental impact caused by transportation in metropolitan areas, sustainable transportation has three widely agreed upon pillars that it utilizes to create more healthy and productive urban centers. [6]

Emphasis on Proximity[edit]

Created by eco friendly urban planning, the concept of urban proximity is an essential element of current and future sustainable transportation systems. This requires that cities be built and added onto with appropriate population and landmark density so that destinations are reached with reduced time in transit. This reduced time in transit allows for reduced fuel expenditure and also opens the door to alternative means of transportation such as bike riding and walking.

ChicagoEl by ikcyzrteip


Furthermore, close proximity of residents and major landmarks allows for the creation of efficient public transportation by eliminating long sprawled out routes and reducing commute time. This in turn decreases the social cost to residents who choose to live in these cities by allowing them more time with families and friends instead by eliminating a part of their commute time.

Diversity in Modes of Transportation[edit]

Sustainable transportation emphasizes the use of a diversity of fuel-efficient transportation vehicles in order to reduce greenhouse emissions and diversity fuel demand. Due to the increasingly expensive and volatile cost of energy, this strategy has become very important because it allows a way for city residents to be less susceptible to varying highs and lows in various energy prices.

Among the different modes of transportation, the use alternative energy cars and wide spread instillation of refueling stations has gained increasing notoriety. Also, the creation of centralized bike and walking paths remains a staple of the sustainable transportation movement.

Transportation Access[edit]

In order to maintain the aspect of social responsibility inherent within the concept of sustainable cities, implementing sustainable transportation must include access to transportation by all levels of society. Due to the fact that car and fuel cost are often too expensive for lower income urban residents, completing this aspect often revolves around efficient and accessible public transportation.

In order to make public transportation more accessible, the cost of rides must be affordable and stations must be located no more than walking distance in each part of the city. As studies have shown, this accessibility creates a great increase in social and productive opportunity for city residents. By allowing lower income residents cheap and available transportation, it allows for individuals to seek employment opportunities all over the urban center rather than simply the area in which they live. This in turn reduces unemployment and a number of associated social problems such as crime, drug use, and violence.[8]

Urban Strategic Planning[edit]

Although there is not an international policy regarding sustainable cities and there are not established international standards, there is an organization, the United Cities and Local Governments(UCLG) that is working to establish universal urban strategic guidelines. The UCLC a democratic and decentralized structure that operates in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Middle East, West Asian and a Metropolitian section work to promote a more sustainable society[9] . The 60 members of the UCLG committee evaluate urban development strategies and debate theses experiences to make the best recommendations. Additionally, the UCLG accounts for differences in regional and national context.


Recently, local and national governments and regional bodies such as the European Union have recognized the need for a holistic understanding of urban planning. This is instrumental to establishing an international policy that focuses on cities challenges and the role of the local authorities responses. Generally, in terms of urban planning, the responsibility of local governments are limited to land use and infrastructure provision excluding inclusive urban development strategies. The advantages of urban strategic planning include an increase in governance and cooperation that aides local governments in establishing performance based-management, clearly identify the challenges facing local community and more effectively responding on a local level rather than national government and finally it improves institutional responses and local decision making[10]. Additionally, it increase dialogue between stakeholders and develops consensus-based solutions, establishing continuity between sustainability plans and the change in local government, it places environmental issues as the priority for the sustainable development of the city and serves as a platform to develop concepts and new models of housing, energy and mobility[11].


The City Development Strategies (CDS) has evolved to address new challenges and to provide space for innovative polices that involves all stakeholders. The inequality in spatial development and socio-economic classes paired with recent concerns of poverty reduction and climate change are new factors in achieving global sustainable cities. According to the UCLG there are differences between regional and national conditions, framework and practice that are overcome in the international commitment to communication and negotiation with other governments, communities and the private sector to continual to develop through innovative and participatory approaches in strategic decisions, building consensus and monitoring performance management and raising investment.

Social Factors of Sustainable Cities[edit]

According to the UN Habitat, around half of the world’s population is concentrated in cities that is set to rise to 60% which a couple decades[12]. The UCLG has specifically identified 13 global challenges to establishing sustainable cities: demographic change and migration, globalisation of the job market, poverty and unmet Millennium Development Goals, segregation, spatial patterns and urban growth, metropolisation and the rise of urban regions, more political power for local authories, new actors for developing a city and providing services, decline in public funding for development, the environment and climate change, new and accessible building technologies, preparing for uncertainty and limits of growth and global communications and partnerships.

United States Education Program/Courses/Global Enterprise and Sustainable Development (Ming Xu)/Sandbox Sustainable cities is located in Earth
United States Education Program/Courses/Global Enterprise and Sustainable Development (Ming Xu)/Sandbox Sustainable cities
Location of UCLG's Headquarter Barcelona, Spain


Bilbao, Spain The country faced economic turmoil following the decline of the steel and port industries but through communication between stakeholders and authorities to create inner-city transformation, the local government benefited from the increase in land value in old port areas. The Strategic Plan for the Revitalisation of Metropolitian Bibao was launched in 1922 and have flourished regenerating old steel and port industries. The conversion from depleted steel and port industries to one of Europe’s most flourishing markets is a prime example of a sustainable project in action.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil The city was created in 1897 and is the third largest metropolitan in Brazil with 2.4 million inhabitants[13]. The Strategic Plan for Belo Horizonte (2010-2030) is being prepared by external consultants based on similar cities infrastructure, incorporating the role of local government, state government, city leaders and encouraging citizen participation. The need for environmental sustainable development is led by the initiative of new government following planning processes from the state government. Overall, the development of the metropolis is dependent on the land regularization and infrastructure improvement that will better support the cultural technology and economic landscape.



  1. ^ Magilavy, Beryl. ""Sustainability Plan"". Sustainable City. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cite error: The named reference Eco-Industrial_Parks_.28Lowe.29 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b c "Eco-Idustrial Park Handbook for Asian Developing Countries". Indigo Development. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "What is Urban Agriculture?". Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture & Food Security. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "US Green Building Council". Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "Planning Transit". Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Public Transport Systems". Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Sustainable Transport City". Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "UCLG Policy Paper on Urban Strategic Planning". Policy Paper. 
  10. ^ "UCLG Policy Paper on Urban Strategic Planning". Policy Paper. 
  11. ^ "UCLG Policy Paper on Urban Strategic Planning". Policy Paper. 
  12. ^ "UCLG Policy Paper on Urban Strategic Planning". Policy Paper. 
  13. ^ "UCLG Policy Paper on Urban Strategic Planning". Policy Paper.