Urban metabolism: Measuring the city's contribution to sustainable development

Urban metabolism refers to the assessment of the amount of resources produced and consumed by urban ecosystems. It has become an important tool to understand how the development of one city causes impacts to the local and regional environment and to support a more sustainable urban design and planning. Therefore, the purpose of this paper was to measure the changes in material and energy use occurred in the city of Curitiba (Brazil) between the years of 2000 and 2010. Results reveal better living conditions and socioeconomic improvements derived from higher resource throughput but without complete disregard to environmental issues. Food intake, water consumption and air emissions remained at similar levels; energy use, construction materials and recycled waste were increased. The paper helps illustrate why it seems more adequate to assess the contribution a city makes to sustainable development than to evaluate if one single city is sustainable or not.

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