Balancing urban development and production with the regional and global capacity to supply resources relies heavily on understanding of urban metabolism.

Urban metabolism in its broadest sense is the study of how water, material and energy flows through and is consumed in urban landscapes to identify how we can make them more resource efficient. In this project the research has specifically focused on water.

The concept is also helpful in evaluating how whole cities perform compared to a single water utility, for example. By identifying and quantifying all water flows, it is helping to design the water sensitive and water-efficient cities of the future.

A new report, ‘Urban metabolism for planning water sensitive cities: concept for an urban water metabolism evaluation framework’, compiles and summarises related research undertaken to date for the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) project on ‘Catchment-scale landscape planning for water sensitive city-regions in an age of climate change(Project B1.2).

Authors Marguerite Renouf, Steven Kenway (The University of Queensland),
Silvia Serrao-Neumann and Darryl Low Choy (Griffith University) present a concept for a novel Urban Metabolism Evaluation Framework for Water (UMEF4Water). They explain how it can be used “to conceptualise urban water management more holistically, quantify urban hydrological performance, and understand the connection between urban areas and their supporting regions”.

“The problem this project addresses is a lack of frameworks and methods for evaluating urban hydrological performance, particularly at macro scales (for example precinct or city-region),” the authors state.

“Just as the water sensitive cities concept is an evolution in the way we value water in urban areas, the Urban Metabolism Evaluation Framework for Water will be an evolution in the way we evaluate cities and urban water management together.”

The report aims to provide knowledge to enable urban and regional planners, managers and policy-makers to understand and monitor the hydrological performance of urban areas, so as to better integrate water science into planning decisions.

Download the report

Last updated: 8th Mar 2016