Infrastructure Ecology: An Evolving Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Development

Title: Infrastructure Ecology: An Evolving Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Development
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: October 2017
Published In: Journal of Cleaner Production

Increasing urbanization places cities at the forefront of achieving global sustainability. For cities to become more sustainable, however, the infrastructure on which they rely must also become more productive, efficient and resilient. Unfortunately the current paradigm of urban infrastructure development is fragmented in approach lacking a systems perspective. Urban infrastructure systems are analogous to ecological systems because they are interconnected, complex and adaptive components that exchange material, information and energy among themselves and to and from the environment, and exhibit characteristic scaling properties that can be expressed by Zipf's Law. Analyzing them together as a whole, as one would do for an ecological system, provides a better understanding about their dynamics and interactions, and enables system-level optimization. The adoption of this “infrastructure ecology” approach will result in urban (re)development that requires lower investment of financial and natural resources to build and maintain, is more sustainable (e.g. uses less materials and energy and generates less waste) and resilient, and enables a greater and more equitable opportunities for the creation of wealth and comfort. The 12 guiding principles of infrastructure ecology will provide a set of goals for urban planners, engineers and other decision-makers in an urban system for urban (re)development.

Ivan Allen College Contributors:
External Contributors: Arka Pandit, Bert Bras, John Crittenden, Elizabeth Minne, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Gottfried Augenbroe, Hyunju Jeong, Jean Ann James, Josh Newell, Marc Weissburg, Michael Chang, M. Xu, Miroslav Begovic, Perry Yang, Richard Fujimoto, Steve French, X. Yu, Yongsh

Pandit, A., B. Bras, E. A. Minné, E. Dunham-Jones, G. Augenbroe, H. Jeong, J.-A. C. James, J. P. Newell, M. Weissburg, M. A. Brown, M. E. Chang, M. Xu, M. M. Begovic, P. Yang, R. M. Fujimoto, S. P. French, V. M. Thomas, X. Yu, Y. Chen, Z. Lu, J. C. Crittenden. Infrastructure Ecology: An Evolving Paradigm for Sustainable Urban Development. Journal of Cleaner Production, 163: S19-27, October 2017.

  • Clean Energy
  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Economic Development and Smart Cities
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy
  • Smart Grid
Related Departments:
  • Other (Non-IAC) Department
  • School of Public Policy