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Applications of Urban Metabolism for Mitigating Resource Demands

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

In an increasingly urbanized world, cities must continue to drive global economic activity whilst having a minimal impact on their environmental support systems. Further, urban decision makers need to gain a better understanding of cities’ patterns of consumption, their drivers and their dynamics in order to meet the resource requirements of the future. Urban researchers have recently focused on developing the "science of cities" toward this end - to quantify and model the processes within the urban "system of systems" in order to plan for growth, maintenance, and decline. The need to move past discrete, single-system modelling approaches towards integrated, cross-disciplinary models of urban consumption has been increasingly emphasised.

Urban metabolism (UM) provides a framework for better integration of urban disciplines to enable the optimisation of resource use. The UM metaphor considers the city as a single entity of many subsystems that draw resources from (and expel waste to) its hinterland, and quantifies aggregate demand for energy, materials, water, and nutrients flows. Through this, UM researchers can gain an appreciation of the scale of resource flows that are required for maintenance and, where relevant, continued growth or contraction. When coupled with life cycle analysis, quantification of these resource flows is central to understanding the contribution that cities make to the local, regional, and global environmental problems and have the potential to facilitate more efficient resource management. Moreover, it is first by estimating these flows that we can identify their drivers, and how best to mitigate consumption and utilise their waste stream.

This PhD research will explore applications of UM, with a focus on understanding how variations in urban design can influence a city’s metabolism, how these shape local infrastructure, and how resource demands can best be mitigated.

Funding Notes

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in a numerate discipline, ideally with a relevant MSc qualification. Experience with / knowledge of geospatial analysis, statistical modelling, environmentally-extended input-output modelling, and/or urban metabolism are desirable. Excellent organisational and communication skills are required. A keen interest to engage in urban sustainability research is essential.

How good is research at University of Reading in Architecture, Built Environment and Planning?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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