Urbanization can be good news for the environment, as cities can achieve higher levels of resource efficiency than can be accomplished in a sparsely populated rural area. When the size of a city doubles, its material infrastructure—think of the total length of roads, pipelines, or cables—does not. Instead these quantities rise more slowly than population size: a city of eight million typically needs 15 percent less of the same infrastructure than do two cities of four million each. In terms of physical infrastructure needs, cities show a sub linear scaling pattern the bigger the city, the more efficient its use of infrastructure, leading to important savings in materials, energy and emissions.
The next two web lectures will explain all this in detail. It will also give example of best practices, i.e. with respect to renewable energy, drinking water and waste water treatment.
At the end of the second web lecture we will address the ‘ factor 8 question’: ‘Is it possible to imagine infrastructure systems that can meet the needs of twice today's population with half today's resources while providing twice the liveability?’ Can infrastructure be the agent of change that helps cities to achieve this goal – and help us to balance the needs of the city with the needs of the natural environment and its ecosystems?
These web lectures will show that the design and management of urban infrastructure is key to accomplishing the factor 8 goal.