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Special Issue "Density and Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 July 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Joo Hwa (Philip) Bay (Website)

Faculty of Humanities, School of Built Environment, Architecture and Interior, Curtin University of Technology, Kent Street, Bentley Campus, WA6012, Australia
Interests: sustainable architecture; social and environmental sustainability; density, community and sustainability; holistic green rating systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

‘Density and Sustainability’ are both complex and challenging issues. In most rapidly developing cities, the economic demands tend to push population into the city core causing great strains on the infrastructure and living environments. Owing to the high cost of living spaces in the city and poor designs, many would live further away and commute by automobiles if there are no trains or more sustainable alternatives. In some cities, the living conditions are so bad both physically and social-culturally that people start to move out of the city core to suburbs, to retire, to work relying on the internet and minimum commuting, or to change career and lifestyle. Bay (2010), demonstrated with a viable case for high-rise high-density village with very high levels of sense of belonging and security, and success in greening and comfort for living environment with almost nil-usage of the air-conditioner. The concept of the socio-climatic beyond the bio-climatic and the more holistic approach to sustainability by understanding the correlations of the social and the environmental dimensions were discussed from town planning, urban design, bottom-up conservations of traditional places, and other perspectives. While these provide a useful starting point, much remains to be done. This special issue seeks contributions from scholars and practitioners whose theoretical or practical works address density and sustainability at various levels, from city planning and urban designs down to architectural designs.

Dr. Joo-Hwa (Philip) Bay

Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • social sustainability
  • environmental sustainability
  • socio-climatic
  • social-environmental
  • density
  • community

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Limits—Urban Density and Mobility Networks in West Berlin during the Period of Containment
Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 7452-7465; doi:10.3390/su6107452
Received: 28 May 2014 / Revised: 16 September 2014 / Accepted: 8 October 2014 / Published: 23 October 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (7295 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
If space may be conceptualized as a natural resource, much like gas, oil, or minerals, then its production and use can also be thought of as something to be properly managed, taken care of, and not wasted. Limiting the expansion of the [...] Read more.
If space may be conceptualized as a natural resource, much like gas, oil, or minerals, then its production and use can also be thought of as something to be properly managed, taken care of, and not wasted. Limiting the expansion of the footprint of built-up land in urban areas forces this particular resource (space) to be used more efficiently—in a sense, compelling it to be more creative and productive. These spatial constraints on urban areas generate different kinds of densification processes within the existing city, propagating densification, and with it new patterns and uses in urban development, as well as novel approaches to mitigating the hazards of dense urban environments. This paper examines the case of how spatial containment in West Berlin during the period of the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) produced such outcomes. West Berlin during this period can be considered a unique case of spatial containment, where a relatively large and vibrant modern city had to work around a clear and indelible limit to its physical expansion. This paper will discuss ways in which the containment influenced patterns of development in West Berlin toward densification and connectivity, focusing on the expansion of its infrastructural networks, and discuss the development of a new building culture around transformation and densification, including hybrid architectures and mitigation devices to deal with difficult sites produced by the densification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Understanding Density in an Uneven City, Santiago de Chile: Implications for Social and Environmental Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 5876-5897; doi:10.3390/su6095876
Received: 29 April 2014 / Revised: 14 August 2014 / Accepted: 15 August 2014 / Published: 2 September 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (10587 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Efforts to promote infill development and to raise densities are growing in many cities around the world as a way to encourage urban sustainability. However, in cities polarized along socio-economic lines, the benefits of densification are not so evident. The aim of [...] Read more.
Efforts to promote infill development and to raise densities are growing in many cities around the world as a way to encourage urban sustainability. However, in cities polarized along socio-economic lines, the benefits of densification are not so evident. The aim of this paper is to discuss some of the contradictions of densification in Santiago de Chile, a city characterized by socio-spatial disparities. To that end, we first use regression analysis to explain differences in density rates within the city. The regression analysis shows that dwelling density depends on the distance from the city center, socioeconomic conditions, and the availability of urban attributes in the area. After understanding the density profile, we discuss the implications for travel and the distribution of social infrastructures and the environmental services provided by green areas. While, at the metropolitan scale, densification may favor a more sustainable travel pattern, it should be achieved by balancing density rates and addressing spatial differences in the provision of social services and environmental amenities. We believe a metropolitan approach is essential to correct these spatial imbalances and to promote a more sustainable and socially cohesive growth pattern. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Urban Biophilia: The Case of Greenskins for Urban Density
Sustainability 2014, 6(8), 5423-5438; doi:10.3390/su6085423
Received: 24 May 2014 / Revised: 28 July 2014 / Accepted: 6 August 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
PDF Full-text (3513 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Green infrastructure ameliorates the urban heat island effect, contributes positively to liveability and enables sustainability in higher density urban environments. Greenskins (living architectures) are a more specific form of green infrastructure, including green walls and green roofs, for dense urban areas. These [...] Read more.
Green infrastructure ameliorates the urban heat island effect, contributes positively to liveability and enables sustainability in higher density urban environments. Greenskins (living architectures) are a more specific form of green infrastructure, including green walls and green roofs, for dense urban areas. These offer a new approach for sustainable urban biophilia and some forms can be built using the ecological design principles of constructed wetlands. The paper compares findings from two urban centres in warm Mediterranean climates. In general from Adelaide, South Australia and more specifically from university collaborative projects on particular technical and social parameters necessary to sustain Greenskins in dense urban conditions in Fremantle, Western Australia. Results from trials of a prototype greywater Greenskin using vertical constructed wetland cells are reported. Through an experimental investigation of designing living green walls in urban Fremantle, this paper challenges the conventional “triple-bottom-line” approach to sustainable dense urban systems by addressing the greater aesthetic needs of sustainability and its thinking. Here landscape aesthetics looks to the collaborative fields of urban design, environmental engineering and landscape architecture to design new urban biophilic experiences and restorative landscapes for regenerative cultural pleasure, ecological responsibility, environmental stewardship and intellectual gain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Densification without Growth Management? Evidence from Local Land Development and Housing Trends in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3975-3990; doi:10.3390/su6063975
Received: 14 April 2014 / Revised: 5 June 2014 / Accepted: 17 June 2014 / Published: 20 June 2014
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (2096 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In urban America, land development and residential real estate have passed through a number of different phases during the post-WWII era. In contemporary discourse on urban sustainability, attention is often expressed in terms of intensity of land development, lot sizes, and square-footage [...] Read more.
In urban America, land development and residential real estate have passed through a number of different phases during the post-WWII era. In contemporary discourse on urban sustainability, attention is often expressed in terms of intensity of land development, lot sizes, and square-footage of housing units. In this paper, we reconstruct the land development trajectory of a rapidly growing southern city in the United States and assess whether this trajectory has experienced any reversal in the face of socio-economic transformations that have occurred over the past decade or so. Starting with current land and real estate property records, we reconstitute the urban map of Charlotte using World War II as a starting point. Results highlight a decline in the average single family lot size over the past decade, while the average home size has consistently grown, suggesting that the city of Charlotte and its county have witnessed a densification trend along a path towards greater land development. This analysis both helps situate Charlotte with respect to other U.S. urban regions, and provides support for potential land-use policies, especially densification, when a balance between urban development, environment preservation, energy savings, and the achievement of quality of life for current and future generations are concerned. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Urban Renewal: The Tel Aviv Dilemma
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2527-2537; doi:10.3390/su6052527
Received: 27 January 2014 / Revised: 12 March 2014 / Accepted: 22 April 2014 / Published: 30 April 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (564 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The city of Tel Aviv needs extensive urban renewal projects to answer the demand for housing. The area suitable for such a project is the older southern part of Tel Aviv, made up of small parcels of land with single units. This [...] Read more.
The city of Tel Aviv needs extensive urban renewal projects to answer the demand for housing. The area suitable for such a project is the older southern part of Tel Aviv, made up of small parcels of land with single units. This area has undergone an extreme gentrification process, which makes assembling small parcels into large ones a very difficult task. Owners holding out for higher prices may either prevent or significantly delay socially efficient redevelopment. The only current option for the Tel Aviv Municipality that will lead to efficient land assembly for private redevelopment currently is the option of private entrepreneurship. We wish to describe a mechanism that will solve the hold-out problem and lead to efficiency in land assembly without resorting to the intervention of the government to execute eminent domain. The mechanism requires the municipality to plan the development that will best suit the city, thus allowing the valuation of the parcel to reflect its true price for the owner. If the owners are still reluctant to sell, the municipality can then tax him according to the new value of the land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Understanding the Role of Built Environment in Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled Accounting for Spatial Heterogeneity
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 589-601; doi:10.3390/su6020589
Received: 14 November 2013 / Revised: 6 January 2014 / Accepted: 20 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (532 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In recent years, increasing concerns over climate change and transportation energy consumption have sparked research into the influences of urban form and land use patterns on motorized travel, notably vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, empirical studies provide mixed evidence of the influence [...] Read more.
In recent years, increasing concerns over climate change and transportation energy consumption have sparked research into the influences of urban form and land use patterns on motorized travel, notably vehicle miles traveled (VMT). However, empirical studies provide mixed evidence of the influence of the built environment on travel. In particular, the role of density after controlling for the confounding factors (e.g., land use mix, average block size, and distance from CBD) still remains unclear. The object of this study is twofold. First, this research provides additional insights into the effects of built environment factors on the work-related VMT, considering urban form measurements at both the home location and workplace simultaneously. Second, a cross-classified multilevel model using Bayesian approach is applied to account for the spatial heterogeneity across spatial units. Using Washington DC as our study area, the home-based work tour in the AM peak hours is used as the analysis unit. Estimation results confirmed the important role that the built environment at both home and workplace plays in affecting work-related VMT. In particular, the results reveal that densities at the workplace have more important roles than that at home location. These findings confirm that urban planning and city design should be part of the solution in stabilizing global climate and energy consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Density and Decision-Making: Findings from an Online Survey
Sustainability 2013, 5(10), 4502-4522; doi:10.3390/su5104502
Received: 16 August 2013 / Revised: 3 September 2013 / Accepted: 4 October 2013 / Published: 23 October 2013
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (661 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In many countries, policymakers have used urban densification strategies in an effort to create more sustainable cities. However, spatial density as a concept remains unclear and complex. Little information exists about how density is considered by decision makers, including the different kinds [...] Read more.
In many countries, policymakers have used urban densification strategies in an effort to create more sustainable cities. However, spatial density as a concept remains unclear and complex. Little information exists about how density is considered by decision makers, including the different kinds of density and the wider political and economic context in which decisions are made: who makes density decisions, when they make those decisions and what they use to make decisions. To that end, the authors created an online survey to investigate the above issues. One hundred and twenty-nine respondents from the fields of architecture, planning, urban design and engineering answered a 26-item survey over a 3-month period. Findings suggest that decision makers consider more than just population and dwelling density and that city design, planning and policy need to address these other kinds of density. Moreover, the professions making many of the density decisions are not, necessarily, the ones that should be making the decisions; nor are they making decisions early enough. Policymakers also need to be more cognisant of the multi-scalar dimensions of density when creating policy. Finally, more needs to be done in universities to ensure that built environment students receive a broader skillset, particularly in terms of engaging with communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Greenhouse Gas Implications of Urban Sprawl in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Sustainability 2013, 5(10), 4461-4478; doi:10.3390/su5104461
Received: 31 July 2013 / Revised: 25 September 2013 / Accepted: 11 October 2013 / Published: 21 October 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (723 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Suburban households living in spacious detached houses and owing multiple cars are often seen as main culprits for negative greenhouse consequences of urban sprawl. Consequently, the effects of sprawl have been mostly studied from the viewpoints of emissions from home energy consumption [...] Read more.
Suburban households living in spacious detached houses and owing multiple cars are often seen as main culprits for negative greenhouse consequences of urban sprawl. Consequently, the effects of sprawl have been mostly studied from the viewpoints of emissions from home energy consumption and private driving. Little attention has been paid to the changes in other consumption. In this paper, urban sprawl is linked to the proliferation of semi-detached and detached housing, described as a low-rise lifestyle, at the expense of apartment house living i.e., high-rise lifestyle. We analyze differences between the low-rise and the high-rise lifestyles and their environmental effects in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, taking into account all consumption activities. Environmental effects are assessed by combining greenhouse gas intensities from a consumption-based environmentally-extended input-output (EE I-O) model with expenditure data. Then these carbon footprints are further elucidated with regression analysis. We find that low-rise lifestyles causes approximately 14% more emissions than high-rise lifestyles. However, the relative contributions of emissions from different sources, whether direct or indirect, are almost equal for both. Furthermore, when controlling the level of expenditure, the differences between the two lifestyles unexpectedly disappear and in certain cases are even reversed. We believe that our consumption-based approach facilitates the understanding of sprawling lifestyles and offers important insights for sustainable policy-design and urban planning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Density, the Sustainability Multiplier: Some Myths and Truths with Application to Perth, Australia
Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 6467-6487; doi:10.3390/su6096467
Received: 9 May 2014 / Revised: 11 September 2014 / Accepted: 11 September 2014 / Published: 25 September 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3767 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper suggests that the divisive urban issue of density has critical importance for sustainability. It is particularly important to resolve for the low density car dependent cities of the world as they are highly resource consumptive. Ten myths about density and [...] Read more.
The paper suggests that the divisive urban issue of density has critical importance for sustainability. It is particularly important to resolve for the low density car dependent cities of the world as they are highly resource consumptive. Ten myths about density and 10 truths about density are proposed to help resolve the planning issues so commonly found to divide urban communities. They are applied with data to Perth to illustrate the issues and how they can be resolved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Density and Sustainability)

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