The Sustainability of Living in a "Green" Urban District: An Emergy Perspective

Daniel Bergquist*, Daniela Garcia-Caro, Sofie Joosse, Madeleine Granvik, Felix Peniche

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


While urban areas hold great potential for contributing to sustainable development, there is a critical need to better understand and verify what measures improve urban sustainability. To achieve this, this project implements emergy synthesis to evaluate the environmental support to a building-called Smaragden-located in a certified "green" urban district in Uppsala, Sweden. Inputs to the building's construction and maintenance phases are accounted for, as are flows supporting the residents' everyday practices (i.e., urban life), on a yearly per capita basis. In this way, the relative importance of lifestyle issues versus the built environment is quantified and compared. Key focus areas are identified where efficiency and sustainability gains are most likely. The emergy synthesis detailed the top contributors to urban resource consumption and revealed that both the lifestyle and built environment in Smaragden are highly unsustainable, ranking poorly in terms of the emergy indices calculated, and, when considered from a global emergy perspective, overshooting resource consumption by more than 70 times. The paper therefore concludes that interdependencies of urban districts on systems at larger scales of society and environment need to be explicitly addressed and actively incorporated in urban policy and planning, and that design interventions are hence grounded in a systems perspective on urban sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5661
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding: This research was funded by Swedish Research Council Formas, grant number 2015-1574. Additional
support was provided by the Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural
Sciences (SLU).

Publisher Copyright: © 2020 by the authors.


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