Properly managing (optimizing and reducing) urban flows demands knowing the quantities involved. Despite broad acknowledgement of the concentration of global energy and material resource consumption in urban centers, very little is known of the actual resource consumption of contemporary cities, mainly because significant challenges remain in accounting for the resource burden imposed by cities.
Therefore, a critical task involves identifying and mapping the main flows of energy, water, materials and products in cities. Research at UMSC has been dedicated to:
– Developing and refining methodologies for urban material, water and energy flows accounting;
– Developing databases to support urban physical accounting;
– Inter scale analysis of resource flows (national, metro and city scales);
– Developing visualization tools for urban indicators.
Potential productive linkages between physical accounting tools usually used in the assessment of particular products, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), assessment of economic relations between sectors (Input-Output Tables) and those tools used for spatially defined resource consumption, as Material Flow Accounting (MFA) are being evaluated. Tools integration will provide the basis for an analytical tool specifically oriented toward the assessment of urban metabolism.