Special Issue "Transforming Built Environments: Towards Carbon Neutral and Green-Blue Cities"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Transportation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 July 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Peter W. Newton
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Urban Transitions, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, 3122, Australia
Interests: sustainable consumption; sustainable built environments; urban regeneration; urban infill models; digital platforms for urban engagement and decision-making
Dr. Briony Rogers
Website
Guest Editor
School of Social Sciences and Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, Monash University, Melbourne, 3800, Australia
Interests: urban water, sustainable water management, water sensitive cities, urban governance, transitions, resilience, interdisciplinary research, institutional change, community engagement

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the 21st century, the creation of built environments that are carbon neutral and water sensitive is critical for addressing sustainable urban development challenges. Both require transformative change—decarbonisation to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and the incorporation of green-blue water sensitive solutions to adapt to climate change impacts. Transition pathways in both arenas involve combinations of new technology and innovative urban design, enabling policies and regulations, and new processes for planning and managing urban development, as well as demand side changes for energy and water resources in relation to consumer attitudes and practices in urban living.

We are inviting original, evidence-based papers that address one or more of the following global challenges for cities and their built environments:

  • Smart city visions and strategies capable of transformative change in the energy and water metabolism of cities.
  • Climate change mitigation strategies for the supply side decarbonisation of the built environment (e.g., small scale distributed energy and storage, and large scale renewable energy systems).
  • Integrated planning and design of blue and green assets in the built environment (e.g., nature-based water treatment systems, waterways and waterbodies, and trees and vegetation).
  • Demand side innovations for energy and water efficiencies.
  • Energy–water nexus solutions in buildings, precincts, and cities.
  • Capacity of built environment elements for delivering 80% reductions in environmental pressures, with particular reference to carbon and water, by 2050.
  • Building, precinct, and city scale innovation in low carbon and/or water sensitive built environment design.
  • Measuring human health and liveability co-benefits of low carbon and/or water sensitive built environments.
  • Process and governance innovations that underpin a demonstrable transition to carbon neutral and/or water sensitive built environments (including collaboration, policy, information, regulation, incentives, and pricing initiatives).
  • Transition experiments in zero carbon/low carbon/carbon neutral built environments and/or green-blue infrastructures.
Prof. Peter W. Newton
Dr. Briony Rogers
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 1800 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

  • Decarbonisation
  • Natural urbanism
  • Renewable energy
  • Distributed and decentralised energy/water infrastructures
  • Water sensitive cities
  • Zero carbon buildings
  • Low carbon mobility

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Exploring Carbon Neutral Potential in Urban Densification: A Precinct Perspective and Scenario Analysis
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 4814; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124814 - 12 Jun 2020
Abstract
Decarbonising the urban built environment for reaching carbon neutrality is high on the agenda for many cities undergoing rapid expansion and densification. As an important urban form, precincts have been increasingly focused on as the context for urban redevelopment planning and at the [...] Read more.
Decarbonising the urban built environment for reaching carbon neutrality is high on the agenda for many cities undergoing rapid expansion and densification. As an important urban form, precincts have been increasingly focused on as the context for urban redevelopment planning and at the forefront for trialling carbon reduction measures. However, due to interplays between the built forms and the occupancy, the carbon performance of a precinct is significantly affected by morphological variations, demographical changes, and renewable energy system deployment. Despite much research on the development of low-carbon precincts, there is limited analysis on aggregated effects of population growth, building energy efficiency, renewable energy penetration, and carbon reduction targets in relation to precinct carbon signature and carbon neutral potential for precinct redevelopment and decarbonisation planning. In this paper, an integrated carbon assessment model, including overall precinct carbon emissions and carbon offset contributed by precinct-scale renewable energy harvesting, is developed and applied to examine the lifecycle carbon signature of urban precincts. Using a case study on a residential precinct redevelopment, scenario analysis is employed to explore opportunities for decarbonising densification development and the carbon neutral potential. Results from scenario analysis indicate that redevelopment of buildings with higher-rated energy efficiency and increase of renewable energy penetration can have a long term positive impact on the carbon performance of urban precincts. Meanwhile, demographical factors in precinct evolution also have a strong influence on a precinct’s carbon neutral potential. Whilst population size exerts upward pressure on total carbon emissions, changes in family types and associated consumption behaviour, such as travelling, can make positive contributions to carbon reduction. The analysis also highlights the significance of embodied carbon to the total carbon signature and the carbon reduction potential of a precinct during densification, reinforcing the notion that “develop with less” is as important as carbon offsetting measures for decarbonising the precinct toward carbon neutrality. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transforming Built Environments: Towards Carbon Neutral and Blue-Green Cities
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4745; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114745 - 10 Jun 2020
Abstract
In the 21st century, the creation of built environments that are carbon neutral and water sensitive is critical for addressing sustainable urban development challenges. Both require transformative change: Decarbonisation to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and incorporation of green-blue water sensitive solutions to adapt [...] Read more.
In the 21st century, the creation of built environments that are carbon neutral and water sensitive is critical for addressing sustainable urban development challenges. Both require transformative change: Decarbonisation to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and incorporation of green-blue water sensitive solutions to adapt to climate change impacts. Transition pathways in both arenas involve combinations of new technology, innovative urban design, enabling policies and regulations, new processes for planning and managing urban development, and demand-side changes in consumer attitudes and practices for urban living related to energy and water use. In this paper, we present new knowledge, concepts and frameworks developed for application in Australia, as well as internationally, through research by the national Cooperative Research Centres for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) and Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) between 2012 and 2020. These findings and outputs illustrate common features of the research strategies and initiatives that were central to the activities of the CRCs, and highlight promising directions for collaborative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research that drives urban sustainability transformations towards carbon neutral and blue-green cities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Transitioning toward Sustainable Cities—Challenges of Collaboration and Integration
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4509; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114509 - 02 Jun 2020
Abstract
The transition towards sustainable cities cannot be solved by individual stakeholders and organisations acting alone. Better governance for tackling such complex problems, including policy change and innovation adoption, will require purposeful collaboration. This is particularly evident in projects that involve integration across scales. [...] Read more.
The transition towards sustainable cities cannot be solved by individual stakeholders and organisations acting alone. Better governance for tackling such complex problems, including policy change and innovation adoption, will require purposeful collaboration. This is particularly evident in projects that involve integration across scales. Our case-study research compared six water-related innovations in large cities in Australia, the Netherlands, and the US. We found that government agencies, water utilities, professional organisations, and industry innovators were all vital actors, along with supportive community education. In the initiation phase of innovation, informal networks were used by sustainable innovation champions to galvanise support. As pilot projects emerged, more formal supportive processes and financial incentives were crucial. For large projects and for the mainstreaming of pilot projects, the role of formal coordination and integration mechanisms became vital for coherent and successful implementation. Various forms of network-based collaborative work were utilised, but the designation of a key coordinating organisation was found to be helpful in maintaining focus and momentum. Coordination activities across organisations, scales, and time were enhanced by the strength of core values and culture, such as valuing stakeholder engagement, innovation, flexibility, and having a focus on outcomes. Overall, this research demonstrated the need to continually evaluate the innovation process to ensure that key ingredients (suitable for each context) are implemented in a timely manner to strengthen the process and enable effective and purposeful collaboration. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cities4ZERO: Overcoming Carbon Lock-in in Municipalities through Smart Urban Transformation Processes
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3590; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093590 - 28 Apr 2020
Abstract
How can local authorities effectively address the decarbonization of urban environments in the long run? How would their interests and expertise be aligned into an integrated approach towards decarbonization? This paper delves into how strategic processes can help to integrate diverse disciplines and [...] Read more.
How can local authorities effectively address the decarbonization of urban environments in the long run? How would their interests and expertise be aligned into an integrated approach towards decarbonization? This paper delves into how strategic processes can help to integrate diverse disciplines and stakeholders when facing urban decarbonization and presents Cities4ZERO, a step-by-step methodology for local authorities, able to guide them through the process of developing the most appropriate plans and projects for an effective urban transition; all from an integrated, participatory and cross-cutting planning approach. For the development of the Cities4ZERO methodology, plans, projects, and strategic processes from five European cities that are part of the Smart Cities and Communities European Commission program have been monitored for 4 years, in close collaboration with local authorities, analyzing ad-hoc local strategic approaches to determine key success factors and barriers to be considered from their transitioning experiences. The study indicates that an iterative strategic approach and a project-oriented vision, combined with a stable institutional commitment, are opening a window of opportunity for cities to achieve effective decarbonization. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Pathways to Carbon-Neutral Cities Prior to a National Policy
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2445; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062445 - 20 Mar 2020
Abstract
Some cities have set carbon neutrality targets prior to national or state-wide neutrality targets, which makes the shift to carbon neutrality more difficult, as the surrounding system does not support this. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate different options for a [...] Read more.
Some cities have set carbon neutrality targets prior to national or state-wide neutrality targets, which makes the shift to carbon neutrality more difficult, as the surrounding system does not support this. The purpose of this paper was to evaluate different options for a progressive city to reach carbon neutrality in energy prior to the surrounding system. The study followed the C40 Cities definition of a carbon-neutral city and used the City of Vantaa in Finland as a progressive case aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030, five years before the national target for carbon neutrality. The study mapped the carbon neutrality process based on City documents and national statistics, and validated it through process-owner interviews. It was identified that most of the measures in the carbon neutrality process were actually outside the jurisdiction of the City, which outsources the responsibility for the majority of carbon neutrality actions to either private properties or national actors with broader boundaries. The only major measure in the City’s direct control was the removal of carbon emissions from municipal district heat production, which potentially represent 30% of the City’s reported carbon emissions and 58% of its energy-related carbon emissions. Interestingly, the City owns electricity production capacity within and beyond the city borders, but it doesn’t allocate it for itself. Allocation would significantly increase the control over the City’s own actions regarding carbon neutrality. Thus, it is proposed that cities aiming for carbon neutrality should promote and advance allocable carbon-free energy production, regardless of geographical location, as one of the central methods of achieving carbon neutrality. Full article
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