Sustainability and Resilience in the Urban Environment

Theis, T. L., M. Zellner, AND H. CABEZAS. Sustainability and Resilience in the Urban Environment. Presented at U.S.-Japan Workshop on Life-Cycle Assessment of Sustainable Infrastructure Materials, Hokkaido Univ, Sapporo, JAPAN, October 21 – 22, 2009.

Urban systems are formed by a diversity of actors and activities, and consist of complex interactions involving financial, information, energy, ecological, and material stocks and flows that operate on different spatial and temporal scales. The urban systems that emerge from these interactions are continually in flux as they are constructed, replaced, and regenerated. It is essential that urban infrastructures are examined in terms of how they either enhance or hamper the system’s robustness in the face of change. While scholars of all disciplines agree that urban systems form and grow from the economic surplus that they capture, less transparent are the manner in which social and organizational factors should be integrated with the ecological landscape and infrastructure decisions and designs. In this paper, a different model of urban infrastructure design is envisioned, one in which technological advances are integrated with ecological and social information to create new types of more resilient and sustainable infrastructure systems.

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