City Analysis

How can one perform an urban analysis clustered to allow cities to be viewed through an Environmental Lens, a Social Lens, and an Economy & Governance Lens, and then integrated to combine all relevant disciplines and cover the complete spread of perspectives?

City Analysis Methodology

The rise in the influence of sustainability principles has resulted in an almost overwhelming number of ways of defining, measuring and assessing sustainability. For sustainability measurement to be accurate it must have a clearly defined ‘sustainability space’, be designed for the context in which the measurements are to be taken, evidence a clear causal chain and make explicit interdependencies. The degree to which current sustainability methods meet these criteria is varied.

Cities play an important role in a country’s ability to become more sustainable. In order for cities to move towards sustainability, it is important first to understand how they function and how well they perform.  This provides a baseline against which to identify and prioritise aspects that would benefit from change and assess the impact of any proposed solutions. Gaps in performance can then be identified, barriers to achieving a sustainable future elucidated and robust solutions designed and assessed. Care must be taken, however, that in moving towards a more sustainable future the liveability of cities is not compromised.

The City Analysis Methodology (CAM) is an innovative urban analysis framework for holistically measuring the performance of UK cities with regard to well-being, resource security and CO2 emissions. It demonstrates the need for, and defines the parameters for, sustainability solutions (decisions being made now in the name of sustainability) that do not compromise wellbeing and provides a model for other countries to leverage the sustainability of their cities.
 

Resources

Their impacts on wellbeing and economic development are complex due to their interplay with national regulations and internationally negotiated treaties. Our rapidly expanding resource use has created environmental impacts that present us with the most challenging agendas for the 21st century. Proceeding with existing production methods and consumption habits, exacerbated by the ever increasing global engines of growth, will further erode our scarce resources increasing pollution, contributing to and creating global economic instabilities. Hence, transformative solutions to low-carbon resource production combined with demand reductions will need to be at the core of our policies, not only to address resource scarcity but also the impact of our changing climate.

To fully understand how energy, water, waste and food flow within and through our cities we need to consider not only their quantities, but also the reasons for their movement (what is causing their demand), who is paying for them and who controls them. In this way we not only understand how an energy source such as oil moves into, around and out of cities, but also what forms it takes (e.g., gasoline), what those forms are used for and hence how it is consumed (e.g., to power cars) and why the demand for those forms exists (e.g., to travel to work).

We must also understand the need for these resources in the first place, how locally controlled resources increase (or otherwise) resource security, the need for and use of local materials, and alternative paradigms for resource security.
 

Ecosystem Services

Urban living is currently made possible through the goods and services derived from both local and distant natural systems, often subsidised by the extensive use of fossil fuels. For example, crops are typically farmed outside of cities, with fossil fuels underpinning the fertilization of soils, crop harvesting and processing, transport to consumers and the removal of the resulting waste. Urban living is also made more liveable by natural systems within and adjacent to cities. Parks provide accessible recreational space, whilst allotments can facilitate community development. Green spaces have health benefits as well, such as removing pollutants from the air. Biodiversity underpins many of these benefits and changes to the diversity of natural systems may alter their ability to supply key services.

Transitioning to low-carbon living is likely to affect how key services are supplied, with potential positive and negative impacts on wellbeing. Green areas and parks will potentially increase in importance as they provide cooling (e.g., shading from trees, cooling effects of lakes and fountains) as summers get warmer with climate change

There is therefore a need to fully understand how ecosystem services and the biodiversity that underpins them are currently delivered to cities; and to explore how these might change in a low-carbon, resource secure future. It is also important to explore how natural systems can play a (vital) role in successfully delivering these future cities.

Research Theme Team

Chris Rogers Chris Rogers
Principal Investigator University of Birmingham
Jon Sadler Jon Sadler
Co-investigator University of Birmingham
No picture available Dexter Hunt
Researcher co-investigator University of Birmingham
Christopher Bouch Christopher Bouch
Researcher University of Birmingham
Yanguo Cong Yanguo Cong
Visiting researcher University of Birmingham
James Hale James Hale
Researcher University of Birmingham
Tony Hargreaves Tony Hargreaves
Researcher University of Birmingham
Joanne Leach Joanne Leach
Researcher University of Birmingham
Susan Lee Susan Lee
Researcher University of Birmingham
Marianna Cavada Marianna Cavada
Researcher University of Birmingham
No picture available Valeria De Laurentiis
PhD Student University of Birmingham
No picture available Mike Goodfellow-Smith
PhD Researcher University of Birmingham
No picture available Dan Hunt
Doctoral Student University of Birmingham
Martin Locret-Collet Martin Locret-Collet
Doctoral Student University of Birmingham
Jonathan Ward Jonathan Ward
PhD Student University of Birmingham
Luca D'Acci Luca D'Acci
Honorary Research Fellow, University of Birmingham IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Giovani Palafox Giovani Palafox
PhD student University of Birmingham

Expert Panellists

No picture available Daniella Abreu
City University
No picture available Peter Braithwaite
Sustainability Advisor; University of Birmingham
No picture available Keith Clarke
Institution of Civil Engineers
No picture available Andrew Comer
Buro Happold Ltd
No picture available Rosemary Coyne
SDRC Consulting Ltd
No picture available Nick Grayson
Birmingham City Council
No picture available Adrian Gurney
London Sustainable Development Commission
No picture available Jim Hall
University of Oxford
No picture available Bill Hewlett
Costain
No picture available Richard Kenny
Birmingham City Council
No picture available Lindsay McCulloch
Southampton City Council
No picture available Judith Sykes
Useful Simple Projects
Sandy  Taylor Sandy Taylor
Birmingham City Council
No picture available Len Threadgold
Geotechnics
No picture available Paul Toyne
Balfour Beatty
Kate Young Kate Young
CH2M HILL & ITRC

What Makes a City Liveable? Implications for Next-Generation Infrastructure Services

What Makes a City Liveable? Implications for Next-Generation Infrastructure Services

Infrastructure forms the framework within which modern societies operate both at the physical and social level. It includes (amongst others) digital, green and social infrastructures, emergency services and food networks, water, energy, waste and transport. Infrastructure, by its very nature, locks in behaviours. The Liveable Cities research consortium aims to...

Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

Planners, architects, urban designers and other built environment professionals engage with a myriad of checkboxes, guidelines, requirements and specifications, all of which potentially compromise creativity and innovation in urban design. Approaches that measure performance are accused of belying the nature of places as messy, plural, organic, accidental and emotive; trying...

Food Security Challenges: Influences of an Energy/Water/Food Nexus

Open access paper in the Proceedings of the 4th World Sustainability Forum, by Valeria De Laurentiis, Dexter V. L. Hunt and Christopher D.F. Rogers.

The food/water/energy nexus is the study of the interactions and connections between these three resources, the synergies and tradeoffs that arise from the way they are...

Smart Cities: Contradicting Definitions and Unclear Measures

Smart Cities: Contradicting Definitions and Unclear Measures

Open access paper in the Proceedings of the 4th World Sustainability Forum, by Marianna Cavada, Chris D.F. Rogers and Dexter V.L. Hunt.

Cities are contemporary metropolises that concentrate human and social activity; engineered to support and develop the physical environment and the people within it, Smart cities, we are led to...

What Makes a City Liveable? Implications For Next-Generation Infrastructure Services

What Makes a City Liveable? Implications For Next-Generation Infrastructure Services

Open access paper in the Proceedings of the International Symposia for Next Generation Infrastructure (ISNGI) 2013 Conference, by Joanne M. Leach, Susan E. Lee, Peter A. Braithwaite, Christopher J. Bouch, Nick Grayson and Christoper D.F. Rogers.

Infrastructure forms the framework within which modern societies operate both at the physical and social...

Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

Do sustainability measures constrain urban design creativity?

New paper published in Proceedings of the ICE: Urban Design and Planning, by Joanne M. Leach, Christopher T. Boyko, Rachel F.D. Cooper, Anna Woodeson, Jim Eyre and Christopher D.F. Rogers.

Planners, architects, urban designers and other built environment professionals engage with a myriad of checkboxes, guidelines, requirements and specifications, all of...

Birmingham nearly finished!

Birmingham nearly finished!

Mobilities and wellbeing focus groups are done, now to complete built environment audits

On 23 April 2014, Chris Boyko, Claire Coulton and Katerina Psarikidou were in Birmingham for the last of four focus groups about mobilities and wellbeing. We have now collected data in two very different wards (varying on density...

What makes a city liveable? Implications for next-generation infrastructure services

What makes a city liveable? Implications for next-generation infrastructure services

Joanne Leach, Susan Lee, Peter Braithwaite, Chris Bouch, Nick Grayson and Chris Rogers have been selected to submit a paper for the 2013 International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure (ISNGI).

ISNGI is an initiative of the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong, Australia with partners University College London...