Building Sustainable Cities

Lecture 3.3.16 presented by John Blair

Week 1 leture was a bit of an introduction to sustainable practices in the built environment. We looked at the components of a good city: attractive, safe, healthy, convenient and socially/economically successsfuly, and we achieve these components through: inclusive design, resilience, green and smart design and good city grooming.

We must therefore consider both the use of and the relationship between:

  • energy
  • water
  • waste
  • transport
  • green infrastructure
  • public space

and consider all of these on a range of geographical scales: national, regional, city/town, neighbourhood and individual buildings which are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions.

Where do we start to achieve this (impossible?) goal?

We formulate a new city vision through community leadership with genuine desire and long term though processes. This involves moving from an established linear program of development to e new circular model of metabolism, where system outputs are used as new inputs for other processes reducing overall waste.

Sustainable urbanism therefore encompasses:

  • low energy
  • waste minimisation
  • resource recovery
  • pollution free

and we reject growth for the sake of growth, instead preferring smart growth adapting to meet current needs in a sustainable way.

Resource recovery looks at the smart use of resources and their use in many processes to reduce waste; placing a limitation on resource use. With this we then must consider the “sink limitations”, whereby we consider the action of a full sink. If we continue to add water to a full sink once we’ve removed the plug, in the flux of water must be LESS THAN the outgoing water or we risk flood. This is essentially what is occurring with green house gases, where we’re releasing more into the atmosphere then we’re able to manage.


Sustainable development is:

“development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

– (WCED, 1987 p. 43)

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 7.34.58 PM


One thought on “Building Sustainable Cities

  1. Jeff says:

    I would suggest that sustainable urbanism also includes incorporation of intentional green spaces. Sometimes that’s what people mean with green infrastructure, but not always. I like to think of intentional green spaces as microclimate centers built into the urban landscape 🙂


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