Sustainable urban infrastructure

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Sustainable urban infrastructure expands on the concept of urban infrastructure by adding the sustainability element with the expectation of improved and more sustained urban development. In the construction and physical and organizational structures that enable cities to function, there is the aim of meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the capabilities of the future generations. [1]


SDG 9 deals with infrastructure but its important to realise that infrastructure is a building block for the rest of the SDGS therefore achieving sustainable infrastructure is of best concern. [2]


Circles of Sustainability image (assessment - Melbourne 2011) Circles of Sustainability image (assessment - Melbourne 2011).jpg
Circles of Sustainability image (assessment - Melbourne 2011)

According to the College of Engineering and Applied Science of the University of Colorado Denver, urban infrastructure refers to the engineered systems (water, energy, transport, sanitation, information) that make up a city. However, challenges resulting from increasing population growth generated a need for sustainable infrastructure that is high performing, cost-effective, resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly. [3]

The United States Environmental Protection Agency maintains that the planning process of sustainable design can lead to the development of a community that is ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable. [4] The design emphasis for a sustainable urban infrastructure is on localization and sustainable living. The aim is to reduce individual's ecological footprint according to the principles of sustainable development in areas with a high population density.

The criteria for what can be included in this kind of urban environment varies from place to place, given differences in existing infrastructure and built form, climate and availability of local resources or talents.

Generally speaking the following could be considered sustainable urban infrastructure:

Global Initiatives


Sustainable urban infrastructure is also called sustainable municipal infrastructure in Canada. It is an infrastructure initiative that facilitates a place or regions progress towards the goal of sustainable living. [5] Attention is paid to technological and government policies which enable urban planning for sustainable architecture and sustainable agriculture.

Several organizations in Canada related to the FCM InfraGuide project, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Infrastructure Canada, National Research Council of Canada, and Canadian Public Works Association, seek to achieve sustainability in municipal infrastructure especially large scale urban infrastructure, they advocate environmental protocols and inclusion of ecological and social indicators and factors in decision making at the earliest possible stage. There is little focus yet on sustainable rural infrastructure though this is a stated goal of the project, as is spreading it to achieve rural development in developing nations.

In their view, sustainability concerns apply to all of "maintaining, repairing and upgrading the infrastructure that sustains our quality of life" including at least:

These and other Canadian official entities including the Auditor General of Canada and Service Canada are focused on related efforts such as municipal performance audits, information technology and communications technology, moral purchasing and sharing of "data, information, common infrastructure, technology" and the need to "integrate their business processes" to further reduce duplication and waste, especially e-waste and greenhouse gas emissions a concern under Kyoto Protocol targets that Canada has committed to achieve. In 2011, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol due to economic concerns. [6] [7]

Communities of Tomorrow is a non-profit enterprise in Saskatchewan, Canada that fosters the development and commercialization of innovative sustainable infrastructure solutions for the global marketplace. Sustainable infrastructure is the development of water, sewer, roads, and other infrastructure systems that meet the needs of current and future generations in a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Communities of Tomorrow brings industry firms together with researchers to collaboratively develop new infrastructure solutions to existing or future problems with the ultimate goal to commercialize them. It's about building greener and longer lasting infrastructure, such as roads and water systems, to offer the global marketplace.


The Swiss Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation (GIB) supports various stakeholders, such as governments, banks and cities, in the designing, implementing and financing sustainable urban infrastructure projects at all stages of the project cycle. [8] Currently, GIB has developed, in cooperation with the French bank Natixis, the SuRe® Standard – The Standard for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure, [9] which is a global voluntary ISEAL standard. [10] GIB has also developed the SuRe® SmartScan, a simplified version of the SuRe® Standard that serves as a self-assessment tool for sustainable infrastructure projects. It provides project developers with a comprehensive analysis of the various themes covered by the SuRe® Standard, offering a solid foundation for green infrastructure projects that are planning to become certified by the SuRe® Standard. [11]


Roadside and urban infrastructures such as signposts, bollards and street furniture are prone to damage and deterioration. As infrastructure deteriorates, it requires either replacement or enhancement. Existing public funding sources are inadequate to meet the need. [12] Self-healing technology could protect surrounding paving and foundations from damage when items of infrastructure are impacted, which can reduce maintenance and improve the sustainability of urban developments. [13] Self-healing developments result in zero waste and zero-landfill from maintenance on items of urban infrastructure for the life of the development.

See also

Related Research Articles

Environmental law Branch of law concerning the natural environment

Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.

Sanitation public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate disposal of human excreta and sewage

Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage. Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand washing with soap. Sanitation systems aim to protect human health by providing a clean environment that will stop the transmission of disease, especially through the fecal–oral route. For example, diarrhea, a main cause of malnutrition and stunted growth in children, can be reduced through adequate sanitation. There are many other diseases which are easily transmitted in communities that have low levels of sanitation, such as ascariasis, cholera, hepatitis, polio, schistosomiasis, and trachoma, to name just a few.

Environmental planning is the process of facilitating decision making to carry out land development with the consideration given to the natural environment, social, political, economic and governance factors and provides a holistic framework to achieve sustainable outcomes. A major goal of environmental planning is to create sustainable communities, which aim to conserve and protect undeveloped land.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH or GIZ in short is a German development agency headquartered in Bonn and Eschborn that provides services in the field of international development cooperation. GIZ mainly implements technical cooperation projects of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), its main commissioning party, although it also works with the private sector and other national and supranational government organizations on a public benefit basis. According to the OECD, 2019 official development assistance from Germany decreased 1.4% to USD 23.8 billion. In its activities GIZ seeks to follow the paradigm of sustainable development, which aims at economic development through social inclusion and environmental protection. GIZ offers consulting and capacity building services in a wide range of areas, including management consulting, rural development, sustainable infrastructure, security and peace-building, social development, governance and democracy, environment and climate change, and economic development and employment.

Sustainable city city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact

Sustainable cities, urban sustainability, or eco-city is a city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact, and resilient habitat for existing populations, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 defines sustainable cities as those that are dedicated to achieving green sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They are committed to doing so by enabling opportunities for all through a design focused on inclusivity as well as maintaining a sustainable economic growth. The focus also includes minimizing required inputs of energy, water, and food, and drastically reducing waste, output of heat, air pollution - CO
, methane, and water pollution. Richard Register first coined the term "ecocity" in his 1987 book Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future, where he offers innovative city planning solutions that would work anywhere. Other leading figures who envisioned sustainable cities are architect Paul F Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Pty Ltd, as well as authors Timothy Beatley and Steffen Lehmann, who have written extensively on the subject. The field of industrial ecology is sometimes used in planning these cities.

Sustainable drainage system

Sustainable drainage systems are a collection of water management practices that aim to align modern drainage systems with natural water processes. SuDS efforts make urban drainage systems more compatible with components of the natural water cycle such as storm surge overflows, soil percolation, and bio-filtration. These efforts hope to mitigate the effect human development has had or may have on the natural water cycle, particularly surface runoff and water pollution trends. SuDS have become popular in recent decades as our understanding of how urban development affects natural environments, as well as concern for climate change and sustainability, have increased. SuDS often use built components that mimic natural features in order to integrate urban drainage systems into the natural drainage systems or a site as efficiently and quickly as possible. SUDS infrastructure has become a large part of the Blue-Green Cities demonstration project in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Green infrastructure type of infrastructure

Green infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature. The main components of this approach include stormwater management, climate adaptation, less heat stress, more biodiversity, food production, better air quality, sustainable energy production, clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as increased quality of life through recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around towns and cities. Green infrastructure also serves to provide an ecological framework for social, economic and environmental health of the surroundings.

The CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) is a research institute created and funded by Government of India. It was established in Nagpur in 1958 with focus on water supply, sewage disposal, communicable diseases and to some extent on industrial pollution and occupational diseases found common in post-independent India. NEERI is a pioneer laboratory in the field of environmental science and engineering and part of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). NEERI has five zonal laboratories at Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. NEERI falls under the Ministry of Science and Technology (India) of central government. The NEERI is an important partner organisation in India's POPs national implementation plan (NIP).

This page is an index of sustainability articles.

Index of environmental articles Wikipedia index

The natural environment, commonly referred to simply as the environment, includes all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth.

Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Governance includes government, business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of elements, environmental governance often employs alternative systems of governance, for example watershed-based management.

Green urbanism has been defined as the practice of creating communities beneficial to human and the environment. According to Timothy Beatley, it is an attempt to shape more sustainable places, communities and lifestyles, and consume less of the world’s resources. Green urbanism is interdisciplinary, combining the collaboration of landscape architects, engineers, urban planners, ecologists, transport planners, physicists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and other specialists in addition to architects and urban designers.

Sustainable urbanism study of cities and the practices to build them urbanism

Sustainable urbanism is both the study of cities and the practices to build them (urbanism), that focuses on promoting their long term viability by reducing consumption, waste and harmful impacts on people and place while enhancing the overall well being of both people and place. Well being includes the physical, ecological, economic, social, health and equity factors, among others, that comprise cities and their populations. In the context of contemporary urbanism, the term cities refers to several scales of human settlements from towns to cities, metropolises and mega-city regions that includes their peripheries / suburbs / exurbs. Sustainability is a key component to professional practice in urban planning and urban design along with its related disciplines landscape architecture, architecture, and civil and environmental engineering. Green urbanism and ecological urbanism are other common terms that are similar to sustainable urbanism, however they can be construed as focusing more on the natural environment and ecosystems and less on economic and social aspects. Also related to sustainable urbanism are the practices of land development called Sustainable development, which is the process of physically constructing sustainable buildings, as well as the practices of urban planning called smart growth or growth management, which denote the processes of planning, designing, and building urban settlements that are more sustainable than if they were not planned according to sustainability criteria and principles.

Sustainable Development Goals Set of 17 global development goals defined by the United Nations for the year 2030

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all". The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030, are part of a UN Resolution called the "2030 Agenda".

2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference international climate change conference in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016

The 2016 United Nations Climate Change Conference was an international meeting of political leaders and activists to discuss environmental issues. It was held in Marrakech, Morocco, on 7–18 November 2016. The conference incorporated the twenty-second Conference of the Parties (COP22), the twelfth meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12), and the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1). The purpose of the conference was to discuss and implement plans about combatting climate change and to "[demonstrate] to the world that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is underway". Participants work together to come up with global solutions to climate change.

Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation (GIB) is an independent, not-for-profit foundation under Swiss law active in the field of sustainable urban infrastructure. The CEO of GIB is Louis Downing.

SuRe is a global voluntary standard which integrates key criteria of sustainability and resilience into infrastructure development and upgrade. It has been developed by the Swiss Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation and the French bank Natixis.

Sustainable Development Goal 15 The 15th of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect life on land

Sustainable Development Goal 15 is about "Life on land" and is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. The official wording is to "Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss". The Goal has 12 targets to be achieved by 2030. Progress towards targets will be measured by 14 indicators.

Sustainable Development Goal 12 The 12th of 17 Sustainable Development Goals to ensure responsible consumption and production

Sustainable Development Goal 12 is about "responsible consumption and production" It is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in 2015. The official wording of SDG 12 is "To ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns". SDG 12 is meant to ensure good use of resources, improving energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and ensuring a better quality of life for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 11 The 11th of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for sustainable cities

Sustainable Development Goal 11 is about "sustainable cities and communities" and is one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The SDG 11 is to "Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable". The 17 SDGs take into account that action in one area will affect outcomes in other areas as well, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. SDG 11 has proven to be of critical importance during the covid 19 pandemic by ensuring a reduction in exposure to those living in crowded areas.The pandemic has showed us that there still a challenge in our urban spacing as 90% cases are in this areas.


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