Read our Project Overview [PDF 1.94MB]
The University of Melbourne is developing solutions to address the challenge of designing and managing more sustainable cities. This work brings together a diverse range of expertise across a broad number of disciplines to address the impact that cities have on the environment and the way in which we live.
The overview presented here focuses upon the work of the Low Carbon Cities Research (LCCR) Steering Committee in drawing together relevant research within the University of Melbourne.
A key element of the LCCR project is to alert us to opportunities where this research might be used in shaping, and envisioning, future cities. The focus is on exploring how the complex systems we call cities are currently functioning, for example in terms of their carbon footprints, and how we might minimise energy consumption to reduce this footprint. This necessarily includes research that explores relationships between the hinterland that surrounds cities and upon which they rely to supply necessary resources, for example food, water and energy that is consumed by their inhabitants.
The University is approaching sustainable cities research first by producing reliable evidence to understand the current situation, then using this information to envisage the form and functions of future cities. Relevant areas of research span the social, biological and physical sciences to inform the design of future cities and the technologies and policies underpinning them. These areas are being brought together through researchers working within numerous faculties across the University, e.g. Engineering, Architecture Building and Planning, Business and Economics, Land and Environment, Arts, Science, and Institutes such as MSSI and MEI, and the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab, collaborating on finding solutions to the design of future cities.
The city of the future can be seen as a complex biological system, with all the parts mutually supporting each other in order to function efficiently. This works by using minimal natural resources (such as energy, raw materials and water) as needed to exist, producing the minimum amount of waste, while utilising renewable resources and clean energy. To understand the complex systems that make up our cities, as well as the many interactions between them, an interdisciplinary approach needs to be at the centre of this research effort.
Two examples of this approach are the MUtopia project and the Low Carbon Cities Research Steering Committee project. MUtopia focuses on developing a tool to assist the design, analysis and evaluation of the level of sustainability achievable for city precincts at various scales. The Low Carbon Cities Research Steering Committee is bringing together research within this broad context which addresses ways of reducing the carbon emissions from the consumption of fossil fuel-based energy. It covers improving efficiencies in manufacturing processes, building and open space design, the use of ICT and a host of other strategies. It also addresses other sources of carbon emissions, including how they may be reduced and captured.