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Hardcover | $39.00 Short | £32.95 | 264 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 37 b&w illus., 19 tables | August 2013 | ISBN: 9780262019361
eBook | $27.00 Short | August 2013 | ISBN: 9780262316941
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Sustainable Urban Metabolism


Urbanization and globalization have shaped the last hundred years. These two dominant trends are mutually reinforcing: globalization links countries through the networked communications of urban hubs. The urban population now generates more than eighty percent of global GDP. Cities account for enormous flows of energy and materials—inflows of goods and services and outflows of waste. Thus urban environmental management critically affects global sustainability. In this book, Paulo Ferrão and John Fernández offer a metabolic perspective on urban sustainability, viewing the city as a metabolism, in terms of its exchanges of matter and energy. Their book provides a roadmap to the strategies and tools needed for a scientifically based framework for analyzing and promoting the sustainability of urban systems.

Using the concept of urban metabolism as a unifying framework, Ferrão and Fernandez describe a systems-oriented approach that establishes useful linkages among environmental, economic, social, and technical infrastructure issues. These linkages lead to an integrated information-intensive platform that enables ecologically informed urban planning. After establishing the theoretical background and describing the diversity of contributing disciplines, the authors sample sustainability approaches and tools, offer an extended study of the urban metabolism of Lisbon, and outline the challenges and opportunities in approaching urban sustainability in both developed and developing countries.

About the Authors

Paulo C. Ferrão is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, and Director of the MIT Portugal Program.

John E. Fernández is Associate Professor and Director of the Building Technology Program in the Department of Architecture at MIT and Director of MIT’s International Design Center.


“For those who take the sustainability of cities seriously, the study of urban metabolism is an absolute necessity. At last we have a text fully devoted to the subject! Ferrão and Fernández skillfully blend their talents as architect and engineer to produce a book that is both beautifully composed and with appropriate technical details.”
Christopher Kennedy, University of Toronto
“With half the world’s people living in urban areas, sustainability depends critically on understanding how cities work and on keeping them healthy. Elaborating on the concepts of industrial ecology and urban metabolism, Ferraõ and Fernández provide access into the workings of cities plus a set of powerful practical tools and methodologies for analysts and designers.”
John R. Ehrenfeld, co-author of Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability