Systemic understanding of Urban Water and Energy flows for Resource Conscious Urban Planning and Design

The PhD research of Ilse Voskamp is part of the AMS research project Urban Pulse. Based on a case study of Amsterdam, Ilse is developing a method for analysing urban water and energy flows that is tailored towards urban planners, designers and landscape architects. This method aims to support them to make evidence-based spatial plans and designs that foster sustainable urban resource management. Ilse is supervised by Nora Sutton of Environmental Technology, Sven Stremke of the Landscape Architecture Chair Group and Huub Rijnaarts (promotor) of Environmental Technology, Wageningen UR.

In order to plan and design resource efficient cities, a sound understanding of urban resource flows is essential (Voskamp et al., 2017). One of the approaches used to analyse resource flows in cities is urban metabolism. Urban metabolism refers to the exchange processes whereby cities transform raw materials, energy, and water into the built environment, human biomass, and waste (Decker et al., 2000). It is argued that urban metabolism analyses can contribute to sustainable urban planning and design, but thus far this application remains limited (Kennedy et al., 2011; Voskamp et al., 2018).

In this research three possible reasons for the lack of application of urban metabolism analyses in urban planning and design will be explored. Namely, that these analyses should (1) assess the urban metabolism more comprehensively, (2) provide detailed, spatial and temporal explicit data of resource flows, and (3) account for the multi-scale socio-ecological drivers that affect these flows. Informed by this research, a model for analysing urban resource flows will be developed. The model will be tailored to evidence-based planning and design of ‘green blue infrastructure’ as effective intervention for enhanced urban resource efficiency. Green blue infrastructure refers to the hybrid networks of green and blue spaces that exist within and around cities, including both natural spaces and semi-natural, engineered elements. Because a detailed understanding of urban water and energy flows is of key importance when designing green blue infrastructure, the model application will be focused on these resource flows.

The research consists of a single-case embedded case study in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region. Environmental managers, urban planners and designers will be involved to ensure usefulness of the model for urban planning and design that fosters sustainable resource management. The research builds upon the AMS Urban Pulse project.

Decker, E.H., Elliott, S., Smith, F.A., Blake, D.R., Rowland, F.S., 2000. Energy and Material Flow. Through the Urban Ecosystem. Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 25, 685–740.
Kennedy, C., Pincetl, S., Bunje, P., 2011. The study of urban metabolism and its applications to urban planning and design.

Voskamp, I. M. et al., 2017 Enhanced Performance of the Eurostat Method for Comprehensive Assessment of Urban Metabolism: A Material Flow Analysis of Amsterdam. J. Ind. Ecol. 21, 887–902

Voskamp, I. M. et al., 2018 Voskamp, I. M. et al., 2018, Space-time information analysis for resource-conscious urban planning and design: A stakeholder based identification of urban metabolism data gaps. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 128, 516–525