Cities are responsible for nearly 80% of global energy consumption. Further, more than half of the world’s population now live in cities. And predictions show the urban population will approach 5 billion people by the year 2030.
The increasing demands for energetic and landmass resources creates concerns about the sustainability of urban settlements. As a result, sustainable developments have become a major challenge, especially the issues of resource depletion and emission-related pollution.
‘Urban Metabolism’ is 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 of this project is to develop a robust conceptual framework that describes the metabolic characteristics of a city. Examples of these characteristics are: resources use, energy consumption and waste emissions that intersect with the spatial and economic dimensions of the city.
Urban metabolism provides a foundation for urban planning and environmental policy making.
The Grantham Centre interviewed Ling Min to find out more about urban metabolism. You can read the interview here and find out what is urban metabolism and why Ling Min thinks it could help create a circular economy.
Ling Min wrote about women in STEM for our International Women’s Day 2018 feature – read it here
Tan, L.M., Arbabi, H., Densley Tingley, D. et al. Mapping resource effectiveness across urban systems. npj Urban Sustain 1, 20 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42949-020-00009-3
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 Tan