Understanding the relationship between resource consumption and development levels

Will Mihkelson

Project description

The growth of cities simultaneously increases demand for construction material and results in strong inequalities of development. Therefore, there may be tensions in achieving global sustainable development goals within our urban areas, exacerbated by the rate of urbanization particularly in developing nations.

Additions to housing and transport infrastructure in these nations will contribute to the already significant share of global anthropogenic carbon emissions attributed to the use of construction material. Therefore, a systematic understanding of the material requirements to improve human living standards may become crucial in evaluating meaningful pathways towards sustainable development. An important step in understanding such pathways is to quantify the relationship between development levels and the resource consumption required for housing.

This research project aims to address this by combining methods to understand the size and distribution of housing material stocks and the scale and heterogeneity of development across geographical scales. Pathways to sustainable development will then be evaluated by evaluating low carbon technologies and improvements to the spatial organization of material stocks and their effects on development levels. This is accomplished by using India as a case study to test the approach and provide insights for a developing nation.


Will has been working with Grantham Scholar Charles Gillott and other University of Sheffield experts to develop a tool that encourages those involved in the design and construction of buildings to engage with the circular economy and build more sustainably. Find out more about Regenerate.


Sheffield newspaper The Star featured a story on the Regenerate tool. Read: Sheffield university academics argue more buildings should be renovated to aid post Covid-19 recovery.

Social media

You can find Will on LinkedIn.


Dr Danielle Densley Tingley

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering


Nick Taylor Buck

Institute for Sustainable Food

Hadi Arbabi

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering