Special Issue "Low Energy Architecture and Low Carbon Cities: Exploring Links, Scales, and Environmental Impacts"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 29 February 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Assoc. Prof. Francesco Pomponi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Head of the Resource Efficient Built Environment Lab (REBEL), School of Engineering & the Built Environment, Edinburgh Napier University, 10 Colinton Road EH10 5DT Edinburgh, UK
Interests: life cycle assessment; embodied carbon; circular economy; sustainable development; global south; education for sustainability; trust and collaboration
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Bernardino D’Amico
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Resource Efficient Built Environment Lab (REBEL), Edinburgh Napier University
Interests: timber engineering; offsite construction and innovative structures; civil engineering; carbon emissions

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Projected population growth and urbanization rates will create a huge demand for new buildings and put an unprecedented pressure on the natural environment and its limited resources. Architectural design has often focused on passive or low-energy approaches to reduce the energy consumption of buildings but it is evident that a more holistic, whole-life based mindset is imperative. On another scale, the movement for, and global initiatives around, low carbon cities promise to deliver the built environment of tomorrow, in harmony with the natural boundary of our planet, the societal needs of its human habitants, and the required growth for economic prosperity. However, cities are made up of individual buildings and this intimate relationship is often poorly understood and under-researched. This is what this special issue aims to explore, and contributions are sought from architects, engineers, urban planners, social scientists, industrial ecologists, circular economists and supply chain experts to reflect the magnitude of the challenge and its trans-disciplinary nature. A bottom up approach could inform to what extent low-energy architectural principles can effectively deliver a low carbon city. Conversely, a top-down level of analysis could shed light on the likelihood that the drive for low carbon cities can actually produce low energy buildings. These are only the two extremes of the research contributions being sought, and we would welcome articles that also look into practical challenges, such as, but not limited to, innovative structural systems, urban scale environmental impact assessments, and the scalability of low carbon solutions from a building to an urban dimension.

Our aim is to contribute an outstanding collection of research papers to the interdisciplinary field of built environment sustainability. It is hoped that authors will see this as an opportunity to go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries and engage more broadly with the complex issue of providing a built environment that can meet future human and natural requirements.

Dr. Francesco Pomponi
Dr. Bernardino D’Amico
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short 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 thoroughly refereed through a single-blind 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 semimonthly 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 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • low carbon cities
  • low energy buildings
  • sustainability transitions
  • circular economy
  • low carbon development

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessCommunication
Measuring Multi-Scale Urban Forest Carbon Flux Dynamics Using an Integrated Eddy Covariance Technique
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4335; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164335 - 11 Aug 2019
Abstract
The multi-scale carbon-carbon dioxide (C-CO2) dynamics of subtropical urban forests and other green and grey infrastructure types were explored in an urbanized campus near Shanghai, China. We integrated eddy covariance (EC) C-CO2 flux measurements and the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon footprint tool [...] Read more.
The multi-scale carbon-carbon dioxide (C-CO2) dynamics of subtropical urban forests and other green and grey infrastructure types were explored in an urbanized campus near Shanghai, China. We integrated eddy covariance (EC) C-CO2 flux measurements and the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon footprint tool to analyze C-CO2 dynamics at the landscape-scale as well as in local-scale urban forest patches during one year. The approach measured the C-CO2 flux from different contributing areas depending on wind directions and atmospheric stability. Although the study landscape was a net carbon source (2.98 Mg C ha−1 yr−1), we found the mean CO2 flux in urban forest patches was −1.32 μmol m−2s−1, indicating that these patches function as a carbon sink with an annual carbon balance of −5.00 Mg C ha−1. These results indicate that urban forest patches and vegetation (i.e., green infrastructure) composition can be designed to maximize the sequestration of CO2. This novel integrated modeling approach can be used to facilitate the study of the multi-scale effects of urban forests and green infrastructure on CO2 and to establish low-carbon emitting planning and planting designs in the subtropics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Methodological Approach for the Development of a Simplified Residential Building Energy Estimation in Temperate Climate
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4040; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154040 - 26 Jul 2019
Abstract
Energy ratings and minimum requirements for thermal envelopes and heating and air conditioning systems emerged as tools to minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and promote greater transparency with regard to energy use in buildings. In Latin America, not [...] Read more.
Energy ratings and minimum requirements for thermal envelopes and heating and air conditioning systems emerged as tools to minimize energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and promote greater transparency with regard to energy use in buildings. In Latin America, not all countries have building energy efficiency regulations, many of them are voluntary and more than 80% of the existing initiatives are simplified methods and are centered in energy demand analysis and the compliance of admissible values for different indicators. However, the application of these tools, even when simplified, is reduced. The main objective is the development of a simplified calculation method for the estimation of the energy consumption of multifamily housing buildings. To do this, an energy model was created based on the real use and occupation of a reference building, its thermal envelope and its thermal system’s performance. This model was simulated for 42 locations, characterized by their climatic conditions, whilst also considering the thermal transmittance fulfilment. The correlation between energy consumption and the climatic conditions is the base of the proposed method. The input data are seven climatic characteristics. Due to the sociocultural context of Latin America, the proposed method is estimated to have more possible acceptance and applications than other more complex methods, increasing the rate of buildings with an energy assessment. The results have demonstrated a high reliability in the prediction of the statistical models created, as the determination coefficient (R2) is nearly 1 for cooling and heating consumption. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Does the Low-Carbon Pilot Initiative Reduce Carbon Emissions? Evidence from the Application of the Synthetic Control Method in Guangdong Province
Sustainability 2019, 11(14), 3979; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11143979 - 23 Jul 2019
Abstract
As the world’s top energy consumer and carbon emitter, China’s carbon emissions policies, including the low-carbon pilot initiative (LCPI) implemented in July 2010, have important effects on global climate change. Therefore, accurately assessing the effect of this policy has become extremely important for [...] Read more.
As the world’s top energy consumer and carbon emitter, China’s carbon emissions policies, including the low-carbon pilot initiative (LCPI) implemented in July 2010, have important effects on global climate change. Therefore, accurately assessing the effect of this policy has become extremely important for low-carbon development. This article analyses the impact of implementing LCPI on regional carbon emissions by using Guangdong Province as the study area, which has the largest economic scale, population size and carbon emissions amongst China’s low-carbon pilot provinces. The results suggest that for the entire 2010–2015 period, Guangdong’s carbon emissions were reduced by about 10% due to the implementation of LCPI. This policy produced a significant impact on the carbon emissions from manufacturing industries but showed minimal impact on the carbon emissions from energy production. Unlike previous researchers who relied on estimations, the authors of this work obtained unified carbon emissions data for 1997–2015 from the China Emission Accounts and Datasets and then constructed comparison groups by using the synthetic control method instead of performing a subjective selection. The authors also examined the impact of LCPI on carbon emissions from different sources. This article proposes that policy support and low-carbon action are necessary for reducing regional carbon emissions and that the policies must be constantly adjusted during their implementation. The successful experiences in low-carbon pilots are also worth exploring and promoting in other regions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating Lifetimes and Stock Turnover Dynamics of Urban Residential Buildings in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(13), 3720; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11133720 - 08 Jul 2019
Abstract
Building lifetime and stock turnover are both key determinants in modelling building energy and carbon. However in China, aside from anecdotal claims that urban residential buildings are generally short-lived, there are no recent official statistics, and empirical data are extremely limited. We present [...] Read more.
Building lifetime and stock turnover are both key determinants in modelling building energy and carbon. However in China, aside from anecdotal claims that urban residential buildings are generally short-lived, there are no recent official statistics, and empirical data are extremely limited. We present a system dynamics model where survival analysis is used to characterise the dynamic interplay between new construction, aging, and demolition of residential buildings in urban China. The uncertainties associated with building lifetime were represented using a Weibull distribution, whose shape and scale parameters were calibrated based on official statistics on floor area up to 2006. The calibrated Weibull lifetime distribution allowed us to estimate the dynamic stock turnover of Chinese urban residential buildings for 2007 to 2017. We find that the average lifetime of urban residential buildings was around 34 years, and the overall residential stock size reached 23.7 billion m2 in 2017. The resultant age-specific sub-stocks provide a baseline for the overall stock, which—along with the calibrated Weibull lifetime distribution—can be used in further modelling and for analysis of policies to reduce the whole-life embodied and operational energy and CO2 emissions in Chinese residential buildings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Research on the Spatial Network Characteristics and Synergetic Abatement Effect of the Carbon Emissions in Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei Urban Agglomeration
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1444; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051444 - 08 Mar 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Based on the carbon emission data in the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei urban agglomeration from 2007 to 2016, this paper used the method of social network analysis (SNA) to investigate the spatial correlation network structure of the carbon emission. Then, by constructing the synergetic abatement effect [...] Read more.
Based on the carbon emission data in the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei urban agglomeration from 2007 to 2016, this paper used the method of social network analysis (SNA) to investigate the spatial correlation network structure of the carbon emission. Then, by constructing the synergetic abatement effect model, we calculated the synergetic abatement effect in the cities and we empirically examined the influence of the spatial network characteristics on the synergetic abatement effect. The results show that the network density first increased from 0.205 in 2007 to 0.263 in 2014 and then decreased to 0.205 in 2016; the network hierarchy fluctuated around 0.710, and the minimum value of the network efficiency was 0.561, which indicates that the network hierarchy structure is stern and the network has good stability. Beijing and Tianjin are in the center of the carbon emission spatial network and play important “intermediary” and “bridge” roles that can have better control over other carbon emission spatial spillover relations between the cities, thus the spatial network of carbon emissions presents a typical “center–periphery” structure. The synergetic abatement effect increased from −2.449 in 2007 to 0.800 in 2011 and then decreased to −1.653 in 2016; the average synergetic effect was −0.550. This means that the overall synergetic level has a lot of room to grow. The carbon emission spatial network has a significant influence on the synergetic abatement effect, while increasing the network density and the network hierarchy. Decreasing the network efficiency will significantly enhance the synergetic abatement effect. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Standardization of the Evaluation Index System for Low-Carbon Cities in China: A Case Study of Xiamen
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3751; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103751 - 18 Oct 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
The construction of a reasonable evaluation index system for low-carbon cities is an important part of China’s green development strategy in urban areas. In this study, based on the theoretical framework for the concept of low-carbon cities, the perspectives from three index systems—that [...] Read more.
The construction of a reasonable evaluation index system for low-carbon cities is an important part of China’s green development strategy in urban areas. In this study, based on the theoretical framework for the concept of low-carbon cities, the perspectives from three index systems—that is, the Drivers, Pressures, State, Impact, Response model of intervention (DPSIR), a complex ecosystem, and a carbon source/sink process—were integrated to extract common indicators from existing evaluation index systems for low-carbon cities. Subsequently, a standardized evaluation index system for low-carbon cities that contained five indicators—carbon emission, low carbon production, low carbon consumption, low-carbon policy, and social economic development—was established. Thereafter, Xiamen was selected for an empirical analysis by determining the indicator weight with an entropy weight method and by carrying out a comprehensive evaluation using a linear summation model. The results showed that the weights of the five selected primary indicators for the evaluation of low-carbon cities were: low-carbon production > low-carbon consumption > social economic development > carbon emission > low-carbon policy. Among the secondary indicators, the average entropy weight of “pollution emission” was the highest at 0.1591, while the average entropy weight of “urbanization rate” was the lowest at 0.0360. Furthermore, the comprehensive index of low-carbon development in 2015 was higher than that in 2010, while the rate of economic growth was greater than the growth rate of carbon emission, which indicated that the relative decoupling of economic growth from carbon emission was basically achieved. Full article
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