Transitioning to eco-cities: Reducing carbon emissions while improving urban welfare
Author: Susan Roaf
We live in a world where rapid change and unmanaged growth is driving the collapse of established systems, be they top-down macroeconomic failures of the economies such as those of Greece and Spain in 2012, the bottom-up collapse of the housing markets in the United States in 2007–2010, or the escalating failure of infrastructures and buildings to provide adequate shelter during extreme weather events (see Figure 1). While seeking to avoid such collapses, we must understand where economic weaknesses and related breaking points exist and how to measure them. In rapidly evolving systems, we must efficiently draw on experience to grow in successful directions. This chapter tackles the challenges of creating such measures and explores the form they might take, using case studies from Arizona and the city of Dundee in Scotland.
Figure 1: The Warming of the Climate Will Exacerbate the Nature and Rate of Collapse of the Whole Gamut of Our Social and Physical Systems within the Built Environment. Strengthening of These Systems Is Essential to Improve Their Adaptive Capacities and Resilience to Collapse
Source: Roaf et al. 2009.
The chapter is divided into four parts. The first deals with concepts of resilience and adaptive capacity of individuals and populations within that built environment. Part two presents a case study of the failure of the Arizonan housing market in 2007–2010. This details the problem of asymmetric information, the ignorance by the majority of the potentially catastrophic impacts of rising energy, transport and water prices on their own household budgets, and raises the question of how this was allowed to happen in a so-called “responsible” society. Part three introduces the second case study of the city of Dundee in Scotland and a consideration of the role that solar technologies might play in alleviating fuel poverty in that city. The fourth and final part discusses the development of standardized metrics and indicators for describing the adaptive economic capacity of a population and testing the sensitivities of a group to a range of hazards that may threaten to cause the socioeconomic systems within which they operate to collapse. Such metrics and indicators would provide decision makers with the critical ability of testing policies and strategies against the capacity of the system to absorb stress and its breaking points under a range of different conditions. While so doing, such metrics can be used to inform successful adaptation strategies for different populations.
The conclusions clearly point to the social and economic benefits of moving toward facilitating the adoption of wide-scale use of solar energy for domestic populations to reduce economic stress upon them and prevent the collapse of regional housing markets and with them their attendant communities....
Find our more
Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- A measure of net well-being that incorporates the effect of housing environmental impacts.
- Adapting 1965-1980 semi-detached dwellings in the UK to reduce summer overheating and the effect of the 2010 Building Regulations.
- Anatomy of low carbon retrofits: evidence from owner-occupied superhomes.
- Energy companies obligation ECO.
- Fuel poverty.
- Green deal scrapped.
- Heat Energy: The Nation’s Forgotten Crisis.
- Housing contribution to regeneration.
- The cold man of europe 2015.
- The real cost of poor housing.
- Well-being and regeneration: Reflections from Carpenters Estate.
Featured articles and news
OMA's plans for new arts centre to revitalise city's culture given planning approval.
Select committee criticises DEFRA for failing to take up its recommendations.
Nicola Sturgeon presents ICE's People's Choice Award to the Forth Road Bridge reopening.
Green paper published for consultation.
Mental health issues effect 80% of construction workers. Read our interview with the founders of a new wellbeing initiative.
Would Stephenson be disappointed by the lack of progress on the high speed transport of Hyperloop?
The immersive pop-up cinema experience that could revolutionise on-site health and safety training.
5 out of 10 filtering facepieces fail HSE tests.
Eleven Magazine announce the winner and runners-up in their Moontopia competition.
As January is the time for hitting the gym, Designing Buildings Wiki lists the best gym architecture in the world.
London is at the top of the list of global construction megacities, beating Dubai and Abu Dhabi.