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What is Urban Sustainability? The Overview

What does Urban Sustainability mean? Urban Sustainability Definition

Urban Sustainability Definition

Urban Sustainability refers to Urban planning actions and guiding principles to improve and build our cities without actively using our resources forever. Urbain sustainability builds along the three pillars of sustainability: Environmental Eco Sustainability(resource consumption with environmental impact), Economical Sustainability(resource use efficiency and economic return), and Social Sustainability (Social well-bring and health).

There are different areas of interest to improve sustainability, for example, the financial industry has promoted the practice of ESG investing to encourage development and investment in the development of sustainable technologies. The increased popularity of Sustainable living promotes green livings. Urban sustainability has guided development in urban and metropolitan areas to achieve heightened standards of sustainability in social, economic, and environmental terms. The goals principally focus on lowering urban carbon footprints and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by targeting resource and energy consumption in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the urban built environment. Implicitly, the goals informed practical measures in energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy generation; incidentally the same three aspects for 100% renewability.

Urban Sustainability Challenges

One of the biggest challenges in urban sustainability is that it is very difficult to measure. First, the scope of urban sustainability is very board, for example, the three pillars measure across air quality, water quality, ecological footprints, financial health, infrastructure, education, and community health. Each of the require different sets of indicators and measurement method and also involves a large variety of professionals from scientists to engineer to accountants to social workers.

Principles of Urban Sustainability

According to “Pathways to Urban Sustainability” published by National Academy of Sciences, there are at least four principles of urban sustainability.

The Planet has Biophysical Limit

Other than solar energy that comes directly from the Sun, everything we have on our planet is limited. There won’t be more after we exhaust them. For example, resource depletion, land-use change, habitat and biodiversity loss.

Human and natural systems are tightly intertwined

Human cultures are connected globally, the relationships of people and their interactions increase in cities. It is important to plan urban sustainability with a global and diverse mindset.

Urban inequality undermines sustainability efforts

If you can’t even put enough food on your family table, building a sustainable environment may be the last thing on your mind. Hence, reducing severe economic, political, class, and social inequalities in a diverse and inclusive environment would be an important principle of urban sustainability.

Cities are highly interconnected

All cities are planned individually, but they need to interact with other cities. Urban Sustainable models demands new models of governance, institutions, and innovative partnerships that can address multiple dimensions of a city’s connections with other places, stakeholders, and decision making.

Areas of Urban Sustainability

Air, Sanitation & Water Pollution

There are many areas to develop in the scope of sustaining urban cities, one of the major ones is having clean air, water, and hygiene systems. Examples of such urban sustainability work include:

  • green building design to reduce operational consumption and to optimize building orientation for solar generation;
  • compact development to minimize gray energy use;
  • medium- to low-rise building construction to conserve materials and energy;
  • building renovation and reuse to increase efficiency and material conservation; mixed uses to reduce distances to services and conserve fuels;
  • urban greening to save energy in the cooling of urban heat islands;
  • networked public transport for increased modalities and lowered dependence on private motor vehicles;
  • connected public spaces to save energy in the daily movements through the city

Ecosystems & Farmland Protection

Sustainable surrounding is also important, for example, if the development of a new urban or suburban area means removing the natural habitats, that’s like taking resources from the planet without using them. Some examples of ecosystem plus urban sustainability planning include

  • Safe nesting havens for birds and inest throughout the city so these birds and insects can co-exist with human
  • Creating green route and safe passage for animals to safely move or migrate to safe habitats.
  • Utilize undevelopable green areas such as lands under power tower for farmland
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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.