Special Issue "Towards Sustainable Cities: Real Estate Markets between Financial Feasibility, Spatial Complexity, and Social Challenges"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Valentina Antoniucci
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Padua, via Venezia 1, 35131 Padova, Italy
Interests: housing market; real estate market; energy efficiency; immigration; retrofit; REIT; spatial analysis; HPM; regression; BIM; big data; investment choices; planning policies; spatial complexity; post carbon city; urban development; urban economics
Prof. Giuliano Marella
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Padua, via Venezia 1, 35131 Padova, Italy
Interests: housing market; real estate market; energy efficiency; immigration; retrofit; REIT; spatial analysis; HPM; regression; BIM; big data; investment choices; planning policies; spatial complexity; post carbon city; urban development; urban economics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The real estate market has faced a decade of crisis that changed, on the one hand, the fundamentals of urban development, and on the other the principles of real estate itself. New paradigms have arisen from the containment and reduction in energy consumption to off-site construction, from a technological perspective to a more tailor-made, demand-oriented real estate product. The global financial crisis and the massive downsizing of the construction sector, in Europe at least, compel new challenges in terms of economic and financial feasibility, from both the public and private sector perspectives. Furthermore, societal changes, such as the aging population, increasing immigration from the Global South, and the new way of living working spaces in the tertiary sector, require innovation in real estate products. Finally, after the global financial crisis, some segments of real estate have grown more than others, such as logistic, innovative commercial and hospitality, and senior housing, at the expense of more traditional functions, such as housing and office buildings, at least in Europe and Western Countries.

Finally, technological innovation engages in both the project development, for instance, with the BIM development, and also in the valuation of economic feasibility with the availability of big data, whose impact on the discipline is not fully understood.

 These changes affected not only the real estate market but also the urban planning sector, which has embraced the sustainability and circular economy paradigm, still without common ground in metropolitan and territorial experiences. The norms and designed rules are not always able to represent the need for innovation, meaning that they more and more frequently experimented with in self-organization and spontaneous developments.

In this perspective, economic assessment and valuation of assets, plans, and public-private development also face new challenges, mostly related to the new paradigm of financial sustainability of real estate investments.

This Special Issue will gather original research in the field of sustainable real estate markets that highlights innovation features related to urban planning, urban development feasibility, and new real estate solutions according to societal changes.

The following topics are encouraged, but the Special Issue is not limited to them:

  • societal changes affecting the real estate market and urban development
  • big data and valuation
  • technological innovation and valuation
  • technological innovation and new real estate products
  • sustainable investments and finance to promote urban development
  • smart cities and green housing: new challenges for valuation
  • circular economy applied to the real estate market, both to the supply and demand side.
  • innovation in urban planning
  • spontaneous and self-organization developments

Dr. Valentina Antoniucci
Prof. Giuliano Marella
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 1900 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

  • sustainable real estate
  • valuation
  • big data
  • risk assessment
  • innovation
  • sustainable finance
  • self-organization
  • technological innovation
  • smart cities
  • sustainable urban development
  • population ageing
  • income divide
  • immigration
  • commercial and hospitality assets
  • circular economy

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Small Towns Recovery and Valorisation. An Innovative Protocol to Evaluate the Efficacy of Project Initiatives
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10311; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810311 - 15 Sep 2021
Viewed by 567
Abstract
In many Countries, the depopulation of small towns is a significant phenomenon, which is causing the disappearance of a vast material and immaterial heritage, the beating heart of national identities. However, in recent years, with the environmental and metropolitan crisis, a gradual change [...] Read more.
In many Countries, the depopulation of small towns is a significant phenomenon, which is causing the disappearance of a vast material and immaterial heritage, the beating heart of national identities. However, in recent years, with the environmental and metropolitan crisis, a gradual change of trend is taking place in which small towns play a crucial role in rebuilding the city-countryside relationship. The sustainable development of territories is possible, but in order to achieve it, it is essential to reverse the gaze and consider small municipalities as the main driving force for a radical change. Nevertheless, too often administrations are inadequate in dealing with the complexity of small realities, defining strategies and funding projects that are inconsistent with the real and varied local needs. This work deals with the issue of the recovery and valorisation of small towns through multi-criteria analysis schemes able to capture not only the specific characteristics of the small municipality, but also its relations with the territory and with neighbouring medium/large cities or other surrounding small towns (city-villages network or small municipalities network), also with reference to the multiple infrastructural components. The aim was to identify the critical points of intervention actions and to effectively address future investments. The idea was to propose a technical-economic evaluation protocol structured on social, economic, environmental, and historic-architectural components. The study of the criteria, divided into several sub-criteria, led to the proposal of innovative datasets of evaluation indicators. The model was applied to a case study. The results showed the validity of the investigation protocol, which can be an important tool for prioritising the interventions to be implemented, thus optimising the processes of resources allocation—both public and private—according to the principles of sustainable development, with relevant effects in terms of economic policy. Full article
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Article
The Italian National Strategy for Inner Areas (SNAI): A Critical Analysis of the Indicator Grid
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6927; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126927 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 542
Abstract
The National Strategy for Inner Areas (SNAI) is a public policy designed to tackle depopulation in inner areas, defined according to the distance from centers offering essential services. Such a policy’s success is crucial to address the new challenges for planning brought [...] Read more.
The National Strategy for Inner Areas (SNAI) is a public policy designed to tackle depopulation in inner areas, defined according to the distance from centers offering essential services. Such a policy’s success is crucial to address the new challenges for planning brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this sense, there is a need to adequately support its implementation by providing handy decision support tools, understanding the power balances among municipalities, and defining proper interventions. The Indicator Grid, already used by the SNAI for project areas selection, can answer this need. However, the Grid’s application to support public policy at the municipality level requires reviewing some of its features, such as the indicators’ large number and the impossibility of defining some of them at the municipal scale. Based on these premises, this paper aims at supporting inner areas policies by carrying out a critical analysis of the current SNAI Grid, aimed at improving its effectiveness. It relies on a hybrid methodology that merges qualitative data interpretations and statistical analyses. Thanks to this method, defining a parsimonious Grid by leaving its complexity and information level untouched is possible. The so-defined set of indicators can represent a valuable reference tool in pinpointing priorities for actions or selecting further territorial scopes from the SNAI perspective, even if it still brings some criticalities to be faced. Full article
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Article
Assessing Multiple Benefits of Housing Regeneration and Smart City Development: The European Project SINFONIA
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8038; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198038 - 29 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1231
Abstract
The urban energy transition towards more sustainable energy production and consumption systems is at the top of the European Union political agenda. Several demonstration projects are dealing with the deep-energy retrofit of real-estate assets to show how technological and societal innovation can provide [...] Read more.
The urban energy transition towards more sustainable energy production and consumption systems is at the top of the European Union political agenda. Several demonstration projects are dealing with the deep-energy retrofit of real-estate assets to show how technological and societal innovation can provide new investment opportunities while enhancing citizens’ quality of life by delivering multiple benefits. In this framework, the EU smart city project SINFONIA has developed and tested a new comprehensive framework to define, identify, and evaluate the main multiple benefits expected from similar initiatives. The present contribution reviews the three assessment exercises carried out in the lighthouse city of Bolzano during the project execution, consisting of an investigation of the users’ stated preferences, an evaluation of consumers‘ revealed preferences and a multicriteria analysis of homeowners’ priorities. It offers an overview of the main achievements and sheds light on further investigatory paths applicable to Positive Energy Districts assessment. Full article
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Article
Urban Real Estate Values and Ecosystem Disservices: An Estimate Model Based on Regression Analysis
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6304; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166304 - 05 Aug 2020
Viewed by 769
Abstract
It is well known that production activities are often the cause of ecosystem disservices. Such disservices can have serious effects on urban real estate values. But how much is the contraction that the market values of housing suffer due to the polluting emissions [...] Read more.
It is well known that production activities are often the cause of ecosystem disservices. Such disservices can have serious effects on urban real estate values. But how much is the contraction that the market values of housing suffer due to the polluting emissions produced by a medium-sized foundry? And how large is the urban area within which buildings are depreciated? With this research we intend to give an answer. To this aim, with specific regard to urban apartments free from contractual constraints, the use of multiple regression analysis makes it possible to obtain a function that explains the real estate value through multiple variables, one of which is representative of the ecosystem disservice. The study reveals that the urban area that suffers from the negative effects of polluting industrial activities on property prices can be extensive. On the other hand, the contractions of real estate values can even reach 43%. These results, for the first time expressed in quantitative terms, must direct towards urban planning interventions, and more generally of economic policy, aimed at minimizing the environmental impacts of production activities. This is not only for the essential obligations to protect environment and human health, but also in relation to the direct economic implications of the decrease in the value of real estate. Full article
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Article
Reconstruction or Reuse? How Real Estate Values and Planning Choices Impact Urban Redevelopment
Sustainability 2020, 12(10), 4060; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12104060 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1022
Abstract
Local administrators and private investors rely on various urban redevelopment strategies, the choice of which depends on the economic expectations of property owners and investors. Some of these options foresee replacing obsolete buildings with new constructions; others prefer the reuse of existing assets. [...] Read more.
Local administrators and private investors rely on various urban redevelopment strategies, the choice of which depends on the economic expectations of property owners and investors. Some of these options foresee replacing obsolete buildings with new constructions; others prefer the reuse of existing assets. This study examines the conditions that make these different strategies feasible, bringing to light the aspects that favor demolition and reconstruction processes over interventions based on the redevelopment of existing assets. The analysis focuses on the variables that determine the choice between these two options. The model that has been developed highlights, on one hand, the role of urban planning tools and urban densification and, on the other, the relationship between the land market and the value of existing assets. The model has been tested on five cities in northern Italy, which fall into three territorial categories—large metropolitan cities, medium-sized cities, and cities of limited rank—to test how different social and economic contexts affect the feasibility of the strategies we evaluated. The results of the study underscore the extent to which the demolition and reconstruction of existing assets is only viable in certain limited areas and under particular market and settlement conditions. While large metropolitan areas seem to have the option of radically replacing existing real estate assets, medium-sized cities and especially small cities are constrained in redeveloping existing urban assets and must forego demolition and reconstruction projects, which do not prove to be economically feasible. Full article
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Review

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Review
Energy Retrofit in European Building Portfolios: A Review of Five Key Aspects
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7465; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187465 - 10 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1053
Abstract
The research about energy efficiency in buildings has exponentially increased during the last few years. Nevertheless, both research and practice still cannot rely on complete methodologies tailored for building portfolios as a whole, because the attention has always been drawn to individual premises. [...] Read more.
The research about energy efficiency in buildings has exponentially increased during the last few years. Nevertheless, both research and practice still cannot rely on complete methodologies tailored for building portfolios as a whole, because the attention has always been drawn to individual premises. Yet, energy efficiency analyses need to go beyond the single building perspective and incorporate strategic district approaches to optimize the retrofit investment. For this purpose, several aspects should be considered simultaneously, and new methodologies should also be promoted. Therefore, this paper aims to discuss energy retrofit campaigns in building portfolios, drawing an exhaustive and updated review about the challenge of jumping from the single-building perspective to a stock-based analysis. This research discusses the publications available on the topic from five key aspects that are all essential steps in achieving a complete and reliable study of energy efficiency at a portfolio level. They are energy modelling and assessment, energy retrofit design, decision-making criteria assessment, optimal allocation of (financial) resources and risk valuation. This review, therefore, advocates for joint consideration of the problem as a basis on which to structure further disciplinary developments. Research gaps are highlighted, and new directions for future research are suggested. Full article
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