Understanding and formulation of the spatial effects of city economic and energetic characteristics on their resource consumption

Cities are responsible for nearly 80% of global energy consumption as cities act of the central for business and economic growth. More than half of the world’s population now live in cities and predictions show the urban population is approaching 5 billion people by the year 2030.

The increasing demands for energetic and landmass resources creates concerns about the sustainability of urban settlements. Sustainable developments have become a major challenge with the issues of resources depletion and emission-related pollution in urban areas.

The paradigm of ‘Urban Metabolism’ has been advocated as a valuable framework for understanding urbanisation and its consequences. It is used to explore the relation between cities morphology and their socio-economic characteristics based on analogy with the metabolism of an organism. Various models have been developed to study the input and output of materials (flows and stocks) between the city and its surrounding environment.

The purpose is to develop a robust conceptual framework that describes the metabolic characteristics of a city such as resources use, energy consumption and waste emissions that intersect with the spatial and economic dimensions of the city. It provides a foundation for urban planning and environmental policy making.


An ecological-thermodynamic approach to urban metabolism: Measuring resource utilization with open system network effectiveness analysis.

Ecological network analysis on intra-city metabolism of functional urban areas in England and Wales.


Ling Min wrote about women in STEM for our International Women’s Day 2018 feature – read it here

Ling Min Tan


Professor Martin Mayfield

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering


Professor Gwilym Pryce

Sheffield Methods Institute

Dr Paul Brockway

School of Earth and Environment & Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds

Dr Danielle Densley Tingley

Lecturer in Architectural Engineering