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Concept & aproach

This project is inspired by the pressing need to understand the effect of green infrastructures on the food-energy-water system and the urban atmosphere. Its innovative aspect is to integrate life cycle modelling that quantifies the metabolism of materials and energy associated to green infrastructures with atmospheric modelling to understand how those green infrastructures also affect the urban atmosphere.  To do so, this project will implement a new approach in which land and resource use are used to drive both life cycle analysis and atmospheric modelling. Two case study cities and their metropolitan area will serve to develop this novel approach: Barcelona (Spain) and Oslo (Norway).

  Metropolitan Area of Barcelona Oslo-Baerum-Nittedal
Total km² 636 830
Built (%) 34 18
Green (%) 31 65
Agricultural (%) 23 8
Wetlands (%) 0.72 4.6
Population 3.5 million 0.8 million
Waste/cap (Kg) 452 433
Wastewater/cap/day (L) 250 550
Green infraestructura policy Programme for Promoting Urban Green Infrastructures Urban Ecology Programme 2011-2026
Urban Policy Urban Master Plan of Barcelona (Pla Director Urbanístic Metropolità de Barcelona) Oslo’s Municipal Master Plan (Kommuneplan for Oslo)

Based on the characteristics of the city, the URBAG team will create an innovative, geo-referenced land-use model to optimize urban and peri-urban food production in terms of nutrients, water, and energy, considering urban morphology and determining life cycle impacts (RQ1/RO1, Work Package 1). These optimized scenarios will be simulated with atmospheric models to determine the direct and indirect effects on the urban and regional atmosphere in terms of air quality, temperature, and greenhouse gases (RQ2/RO2, Work Package 2). This project will give city planners and policy makers the guidance to determine how the growth in urban food production and green spaces can be managed to enhance urban sustainability, avoid unintended environmental consequences, and promote wider and diffused social benefits (RQ3/RO3, Work Package 3).

Based on the premise that discovering sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems requires systems-based approaches that integrate knowledge across multiple disciplines8, URBAG will take urban sustainability research into a new direction, aiming for a more integrated, systems-approach assessment than has been done up to now. The investigation will connect processes between the natural, socio-institutional, and the built environment, and is innovative in its multidisciplinary approach linking atmosphere science, agronomy, industrial ecology, and urban planning and policy.