Urban Metabolism and the Energy Stored in Cities

Using the city of Toronto as a case study, this article examines impacts of energy stocks and flexible demand in the urban metabolism on the resilience of the city, including discussion of directions for further study of the resiliency of the urban metabolism. An important element developed is the nominal residence time of the energy stocks. This value defines how long an energy stock lasts under typical patterns of energy use. The findings suggest that the residence times of many sources of energy overcome vulnerability when energy supply shocks last on the order of hours or a few days, but that the measure is limited to assessing only certain types of commonly used energy sources in aggregate terms. Discussion is included on the uncertainty of this measure and on the metabolic and resiliency implications of new technologies intended to reduce energy use and improve sustainability of cities and the use of the urban metabolism as a means of comparison. The methodology employed highlights how waste energy could be used to increase the resiliency of the city's water supply, but also how the study of the urban metabolism would benefit from a more disaggregate form in the study of sustainable and resilient cities.

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