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In this chapter several important aspects of urban resiliency and sustainability are presented, beginning with the concept of a sustainable city, and proceeding through various elements of urban systems: buildings, energy and climate action planning, transportation, and stormwater management. The chapter concludes with a case study of a net zero energy home, one in which perhaps you can envision yourself inhabiting one day.


At present 80% of the US population lives in urban regions, a percentage that has grown steadily over the past two hundred years. Urban infrastructures have historically supported several needs of the population served: the supply of goods, materials and services upon which we rely; collection, treatment and disposal of waste products; adequate transportation alternatives; access to power and communication grids; a quality public education system; maintenance of a system of governance that is responsive, efficient and fair; generation of sufficient financial and social capital to maintain and renew the region; and insurance of the basic elements of safety and public health. Collectively, these needs have been perceived as the basic attributes needed to make an urban region livable.

Urban infrastructures are designed and built in response to social needs and economies of scale that urbanization has brought about. Although our urban infrastructures are in many ways remarkable achievements of engineering design that were conceived and built during times of rapid urbanization, as they have aged and, inevitably, deteriorated; significant strains on their function and ability to provide services have become evident. In its program to identify the “grand challenges” facing society in the near future, the National Academy of Engineering has proposed several focus areas, among them the restoration and improvement of urban infrastructures. Such a challenge involves the need for renewal, but also presents opportunities for re-envisioning the basis of infrastructure design and function as we move forward. Urban infrastructures of the past were not generally conceived in concert with evolutionary social and ecological processes. This has resulted in several characteristic attributes: conceptual models of infrastructure that perceive local ecological systems either indifferently or as obstacles to be overcome rather than assets for harmonious designs; a general reliance on centralized facilities; structures that often lack operational flexibility such that alternative uses may be precluded during times of crisis; heavy use of impervious and heat absorbing materials; systems that have become increasingly costly to maintain and that are often excessively consumptive of natural resources on a life cycle basis; and a built environment the materials and components of which are often difficult to reuse or recycle.

The urban environment is an example of a complex human-natural system. The resiliency of such systems lies in their capacity to maintain essential organization and function in response to disturbances (of both long and short duration). A complimentary view, inspired by traditional ecological and economic thought focuses on the degree of damage a system can withstand without exhibiting a “regime” shift, defined as a transition that changes the structure and functioning of the system from one state to another as a result of one or more independent factors. Upon exceeding a given threshold, the system shifts to a new alternative state which may not be readily reversed through manipulation of causative factors. In the context of human-natural systems, regime shifts can have significant consequences, and not all shifts are preferred by the human component of the system. To the extent that change of some order is a given property of essentially all dynamic systems, “preferred” resiliency might be viewed as the extent to which human societies can adapt to such shifts with acceptable levels of impacts. Resilient infrastructures, then, are those which most readily facilitate such adaptation. Much of the foregoing discussion also applies to sustainability, with the added constraints of the sustainability paradigm: the equitable and responsible distribution of resources among humans, present and future, in ways that do not harm, and ideally reinforce, the social and biological systems upon which human society is based. Although there are important differences between those two concepts, there remains a close interrelationship that stems from the same need: to understand and design urban infrastructural systems that enhance human interactions with the environment.

It is beyond the scope of this book to present an exhaustive treatment of the urban environment, indeed there are many books and treatises on this topic. But in this chapter several important aspects of urban resiliency and sustainability are presented, beginning with the concept of a sustainable city, and proceeding through various elements of urban systems: buildings, energy and climate action planning, transportation, and stormwater management. The chapter concludes with a case study of a net zero energy home, one in which perhaps you can envision yourself inhabiting one day.

Further reading

Nancy B. Grimm, Stanley H. Faeth, Nancy E. Golubiewski, Charles L. Redman, Jianguo Wu, Xuemei Bai, and John M. Briggs (2008). “Global Change and the Ecology of Cities”, Science 8 February 2008: Vol. 319 no. 5864 pp. 756-760 DOI: 10.1126/science.1150195.

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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