Advertisement

Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1267–1285 | Cite as

The paradox of the sustainable city: definitions and examples

  • Abbas M. Hassan
  • Hyowon LeeEmail author
Article

Abstract

It is well known that sustainability has become a much needed target, especially considering the recent rapid urban sprawl and the subsequent exacerbation of social, environmental, and economic problems. Thus, many studies have been conducted to define sustainability and the sustainable city. However, many of these definitions suggest a range of contradictions, implying that the achievement of sustainability is elusive. The problem lies in setting unreasonable definitions of sustainability and in the various contradictions to these definitions, making sustainability seemingly unattainable. Hence, some models of cities are emerging that are labeled as sustainable cities; among these are the “zero-carbon city” and the “ubiquitous eco-city” (“U-eco-city”). This study reviews the history and definitions of sustainability, in order to acknowledge the contradictions inherent in these concepts. It also briefly presents the compact city, the zero-carbon eco-city, and the U-eco-city by determining their individual pros and cons and highlighting where there are any conflicts with the principles of sustainability. The aim of the study was to adjust the use of sustainability as a terminology in the field of urban sustainable development and to demonstrate the extent to which we use marketing names for eco-cities without compliance with sustainable dimensions. The study will also discuss the key sustainability pillar required for a project to be kept sustainable. The study concludes that the use of the term “sustainable city” may limit the potential for further enhancing sustainability in future projects; using the term “transition toward the sustainable city” may be more accurate and more effective. The results show that reducing energy consumption through efficient use, and relying on renewable energies, will be the keys to reaching urban sustainability. The study also finds that recent tyranny in the name of ecology will not result in real sustainability. Although the free eco-city and the u-eco-city are considered advanced models, their limitations are related more to the economic and social aspects than to the compact city, which clearly reflected the pillars of sustainability, despite its being an outdated model.

Keywords

Sustainable city Transition into sustainability Zero-carbon city Compact city Ubiquitous eco-city 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a Grant (14RDRP-B076574-01-000000) from Regional Development Research Program funded by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of Korean government.

Conflict of interest

None.

References

  1. Abdul-Kadir, S., & Jamaludin, M. (2013). Universal design as a significant component for sustainable life and social development. Journal of Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 85, 180.Google Scholar
  2. Alshuwaikhat, H. M., & Nkwenti, D. I. (2002). Developing sustainable cities in arid regions. Cities, 19(2), 85–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthur, L. (2012). Masdar City: A model of urban environmental sustainability. 77 SOCI SCICS. pp. 77–82.Google Scholar
  4. Berke, P., Manta, M. (1999). Planning for sustainable development: Measuring progress in plans. Lincoln Institute of Land policy (Working Paper): p. 3.Google Scholar
  5. Blassingame, L. (1998). Sustainable cities: Oxymoron, utopia, or inevitability? The Social Science Journal, 35(1), 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bolay, J., & Kern, A. (2011). Technology and cities: What type of development is appropriate for cities of the south? Urban Technology, 18(3), 25–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borgonovi, E., & Compagni, A. (2013). Sustaining universal health coverage: The interaction of social, political, and economic sustainability. Value in Health, 6, s34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burnett, J. (2007). City buildings-Eco-labels and shades of green! Landscape and Urban Planning, 83, 29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Caetano, M., Araújo, J. B., & Amaral, D. C. (2012). A framework for the application of eco-efficiency to the technology development process. Technology Management and Innovation, 7(2), 29.Google Scholar
  10. Camagni, R., Capello, R., & Nijkamp, P. (1998). Analysis towards sustainable city policy: An economy-environment technology nexus. Ecological Economics, 24, 116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Caprotti, F. (2014). Critical research on eco-cities? A walk through the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, China. Cities, 36, 10–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Choi, H. S., & Ahn, K. H. (2013). Assessing the sustenance and evolution of social and cultural contexts within sustainable urban development, using as a case the MAC in South Korea. Sustainable Cities and Society, 6, 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cibworld (2014). CIB pro-active approach priority theme 1—sustainable construction CIB: News on CIB and Sustainable Construction. Online access: <http://cibworld.xs4all.nl/dl/ib/9903/pages/pro1.html#anchor413919>. Accessed 09 Jan 2014.
  14. Dempsey, N., Brown, C., & Bramley, G. (2012). The key to sustainable urban development in UK cities? The influence of density on social sustainability. Journal of Progress in Planning, 77, 94.Google Scholar
  15. Dominski, T. (1992). The three stage evolution of eco-cities: Reduce, reuse, recycle. In A. Walter, et al. (Eds.), Sustainable cities (pp. 16–18). Los Angeles: Eco-Home Media.Google Scholar
  16. Dou, X., Li, S., & Wang, J. (2013). Ecological strategy of city sustainable development. APCBEE Procedia, 5, 429–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dujardin, S., Marique, A. F., & Tellerb, J. (2014). Spatial planning as a driver of change in mobility and residentialenergy consumption. Journal of Energy and Buildings, 68, 779–785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Egger, S. (2006). Determining a sustainable city model. Environmental Modelling and Software, 21, 1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elchalakani, M., Aly, T., & Abu-Aisheh, E. (2013). Sustainable concrete with high volume GGBFS to build Masdar City in the UAE. CASE Studies in Construction Materials,. doi: 10.1016/j.cscm.2013.11.001.Google Scholar
  20. Fowke, R., & Prasad, D. (1996). Sustainable development cities and local government. Australian Planner, 33, 61–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gaspar, J., & Glaeser, E. L. (1998). Information technology and the future of cities. Urban Economics, 43, 136–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gilman, R. (2013). The dynamic planetary context for intentional communities. Social Sciences Directory, 2(3), 2–31.Google Scholar
  23. Grêt-Regamey, A., Celio, E., Klein, T. M., & Hayek, U. W. (2013). Understanding ecosystem services trade-offs with interactive procedural modeling for sustainable urban planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 109, 107–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hassan, A. M., Hyowon, L., Yoo, U. (2013). Reviving the cultural heritage of Arabian–Islamic cities by new technological tools: From Islamic Cairo into Masdar City. Creative Renaissance, the 7th conference international forum on urbanism (IFOU); College of planning and design, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, Oct. 7–11, 2013. CD, ISBN: 9789860382396, pp. 342–351.Google Scholar
  25. Hassan, A. M., & Lee, H. (2014). A theoretical approach to the design of sustainable dwellings in hot dry zones: A Toshka case study. Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology, 40, 251–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hawkes, D. (1995). Towards the sustainable city. Renewable Energy, 6(3), 348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hofstad, H. (2012). Compact city development: High ideals and emerging practices. European Journal of Spatial Development; 49. Available Online: http://www.nordregio.se/Global/EJSD/Refereed%20articles/refereed49.pdf; access date: may, 30th, 2014.
  28. HoLee, S., Hoon, H. J., Taik, L. Y., et al. (2008). Towards ubiquitous city: Concept, planning, and experiences in the Republic of Korea. In T. Yigitcanlar, K. Velibeyoglu, & S. Baum (Eds.), Knowledge-based urban development: Planning and applications in the information Era (pp. 148–169). Hershey, PA: IGI Global, Information Science Reference.Google Scholar
  29. Hornby, A. S. (1995). Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary of current English (5th ed., p. 1205). UK: Oxford university press.Google Scholar
  30. Howley, P., Scott, M., & Redmond, D. (2009). An examination of residential preferences for less sustainable housing: Exploring future mobility among Dublin central city residents. Cities, 26, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Inaba, J. (2012). Adaptation: Architecture, technology, and the city. ISBN: 0615738737, 9780615738734. p. 7. Available Online at: http://www.inaba.us/project/adaptation-architecture-technology-and-city. Accessed 26th March 2014.
  32. ITU-T (2013). Smart cities—Seoul: A case study. ITU-T Technology Watch Report. Available Online: http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itut/oth/23/01/T23010000190001PDFE.pdf. Accessed 26th March 2014.
  33. Jiang, Y., Shen, J. (2010). Measuring the urban competitiveness of Chinese cities in. Cities. 27, 312.Google Scholar
  34. Jung, H. S., Jeong, C. S., Lee, Y. W., et al. (2009). An intelligent ubiquitous middleware for U-City: SmartUM. Journal of Information Science and Engineering, 25, 375–388.Google Scholar
  35. Kim, Y. M., Kim, H. S., Moon, S. Y., et al. (2009). Ubiquitous eco-city planning in Korea. A Project for the Realization of Ecological City Planning and Ubiquitous Network Society. REAL CORP 2009: CITIES 3.0—Smart, Sustainable, Integrative. Proceedings of 14th International Conference on Urban Planning, Region al Development and Information Society, 22–25th, April, 2009; pp. 925–930. Catalonia, Spain. Available Online at: <http://programm.corp.at/cdrom2009/papers2009/CORP2009_174.pdf>. Accessed 26th March 2014.
  36. Kolte, S., Kandya, A., Lakhtaria, K., et al. (2013). Evolving sustainable cities through the fabric of technological transformation. Procedia Engineering, 51, 480–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Komnitsas, K. A. (2011). Potential of geopolymer technology towards green buildings and sustainable cities. Procedia Engineering, 21, 1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kühn, M. (2003). Greenbelt and green heart: Separating and integrating landscapes in European city regions. Journal of Landscape and Urban Planning, 64, 19–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kusakabe, E. (2013). Advancing sustainable development at the local level: The case of Machizukuri in Japanese cities. Progress in Planning, 80, 2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lau, J. C. Y. (2013). Sustainable urban transport planning and the commuting patterns of poor workers in a historic inner city in Guangzhou, China. Habitat International Journal, 39, 119–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lehmann, S. (2010). The principles of green urbanism: Transforming the city for sustainability. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  42. Lindfield, M., Steinberg, F. (2012). Green cities. Asian Development Bank, p. 86. Available Online at: http://www10.iadb.org/intal/intalcdi/PE/2012/10650.pdf. Accessed 26th March 2014.
  43. Maclaren, V. W. (1996). Urban sustainability reporting. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62(2), 185. Available also Online at <http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944369608975684>. Accessed 26th Jan 2013.
  44. Masdarconnect (2013). Exploring Masdar city, Available at : <http://www.masdarconnect.com/userfiles/files/Exploring-Masdar-City-Site-Tour-Booklet.pdf>. Accessed 12 Aug 2013.
  45. McDonough, W. (1992). The hannover principles: Design for sustainability. Prepared for EXPO 2000, The World’s Fair. Hannover, Germany. Available Online at: <http://www.mcdonough.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Hannover-Principles-1992.pdf>. Accessed 19th July 2014.
  46. Murrain, P. (1993). Urban expansion: Look back and learn. In R. Hayward & McGlynn (Eds.), Making better places: Urban design now (pp. 83–94). Oxford: Butterworth.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nader, S. (2009). Paths to a low-carbon economy—the Masdar example. Energy Procedia, 1, 3951–3958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neuman, M. (2005). The compact city fallacy. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 25, 11–26. doi: 10.1177/0739456X04270466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Oktay, D. (2012). Human sustainable urbanism: In pursuit of ecological and social–cultural sustainability. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 36, 19.Google Scholar
  50. Oldenhuizing, J., Kraker, J., & Valkering, P. (2013). Design of a quality-of-life monitor to promote learning in a multi-actor network for sustainable urban development. Cleaner Production, 49, 74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Paloheimo, E., & Salmi, O. (2013). Evaluating the carbon emissions of the low carbon city: A novel approach for consumer based allocation. Cities, 30, 238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pickett, S. T. A., Boone, C. G., McGrath, B. P., et al. (2013). Ecological science and transformation to the sustainable city. Cities, 32, s13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pow, C. P., & Neo, H. (2013). Seeing red over green: Contesting urban sustainabilities in China. Urban Studies, 50(11), 2256–2274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Premalatha, M., Tauseef, S. M., Abbasi, T., et al. (2013). The promise and the performance of the world’s first two zero carbon eco-cities. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 25, 660–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rai, P. T. (2012). Townships for sustainable cities. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 37, 419.Google Scholar
  56. Rasoolimanesh, S. M., Badarulzaman, N., & Jaafar, M. (2012). City development strategies (CDS) and sustainable urbanization in developing world. Procedia—Social and Behavioral Sciences, 36, 626.Google Scholar
  57. Reiche, D. (2010). Renewable energy policies in the Gulf countries: A case study of the carbon-neutral ‘‘Masdar City’’ in Abu Dhabi. Energy Policy, 38, 378–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rogers, R. (1997). Cities for a small planet (p. 26). London: Faber and Faber Limited.Google Scholar
  59. Rogers, R. A. (2000). The usury debate, the sustainability debate and the call for a moral economy. Ecological Economics, 35, 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roy, M. (2009). Planning for sustainable urbanisation in fast growing cities: Mitigation and adaptation issues addressed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Habitat International, 33, 278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Saha, D., & Paterson, R. G. (2008). Local government efforts to promote the “Three Es” of sustainable development: Survey in medium to large Cities in the United States. Planning Education and Research, 28, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Salonen, A. O., & Åhlberg, M. (2013). Obstacles to sustainable living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Sustainable Cities and Society, 8, 54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Scheurer, J. (2007). Compact city policy: How Europe rediscovered its history and met resistance. 2005–2007 the urban reinventors Journal, issue 2. celebration of urbanity. Available online at: <http://www.urbanreinventors.net/2/scheurer/scheurer-urbanreinventors.pdf>. Accessed 17th Feb 2014.
  64. Sgouridis, S., & Kennedy, S. (2010). Tangible and fungible energy: Hybrid energy market and currency system for total energy management. A Masdar City case study. Energy Policy, 38, 1749–1758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sharifi, A., & Murayama, A. (2013). Changes in the traditional urban form and the social sustainability of contemporary cities: A case study of Iranian cities. Habitat International, 38, 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sonne, W. (2009). Dwelling in the metropolis: Reformed urban blocks 1890–1940 as a model for the sustainable compact city. Progress in Planning, 72, 55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ståhle, A. (2010). More green space in a denser city: Critical relations between user experience and urban form. Urban Design International Journal, 15(1), 47–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stirling, A. (1999). The appraisal of sustainability: Some problems and possible responses. Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 4(2), 111–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. The National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) (2001). Sustainable design. First edition, Washington, USA: (NCARB), the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards, 2001, pp. 3–21.Google Scholar
  70. Theodoridou, I., Papadopoulos, A. M., & Hegger, M. (2012). A feasibility evaluation tool for sustainable cities—A case study for Greece. Energy Policy, 44, 209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. WCED. (1987). Our common future. London: Oxford University Press. 46.Google Scholar
  72. White, L., & Lee, G. J. (2009). Operational research and sustainable development: Tackling the social dimension. European Journal of Operational Research, 193, 683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Whitehead, M. (2003). (Re)Analysing the sustainable city: Nature, urbanisation and the regulation of socio-environmental relations in the UK. Urban Studies Journal, 40(7), 1186. Available also online at <http://usj.sagepub.com/content/40/7/1183>. Accessed 27th Jan 2014.
  74. Whitehead, I. (2010). Models of Sustainability? A Comparative Analysis of Ideal City Planning in Saltaire and Masdar City. GEO View: Online Undergraduate Review of Geography and Environmental Studies. ISSN: 1448-6482.Google Scholar
  75. Yigitcanlar, T., & Lee, S. (2013). Korean ubiquitous-eco-city: A smart-sustainable urban form or a branding hoax? Technological Forecasting and Social Change Journal,. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2013.08.034.Google Scholar
  76. Zheng, H. W., Shen, G. Q., & Wang, H. (2014). A review of recent studies on sustainable urban renewal. Habitat International, 41, 273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ArchitectureChonnam National UniversityGwangjuRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Architecture, Faculty of EngineeringAl-Azhar UniversityQenaEgypt

Personalised recommendations