Title| The Metabolism of the Economies: From National to Urban Systems

Speaker| Paulo Ferrao, Professor, Instituto Superior Tecnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal.


Socio-economic metabolism dynamics are relevant to identify (un)sustainable development pathways in different economies, by quantifying changes in added value and material flow requirements of critical economic sectors, or the impact of different policy actions in resource consumption. Two models are provided to characterize the use of resources in the economy, one to characterize the metabolism of the economy at a national level, and other to model energy consumption in buildings at an urban level, with single building resolution. In the first case, a framework to quantify the socio-economic metabolism of nations that can be replicated for a series of years and countries is presented and applied in a case study covering the 2008 economic crisis in Portugal, in which the socio-economic metabolism, the underlying structural changes and the corresponding environmental impacts are effectively characterized. The use of this information for the design of decoupling policies is discussed, in view of promoting sustainable dematerialization during periods of economic prosperity. The analysis an urban level, is based in an urban digital twin of a city in order to discuss strategies for promoting energy efficiency in buildings, under different policy measures.


Paulo Ferrão is a Distinguished Professor of Instituto Superior Técnico – University of Lisbon, President of IN+, Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research. He is the President of the COST association. He has been the President of Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia from 2016 to 2019, and Director of the MIT-Portugal Program from 1996 to 2016. He is a member of the Environmental Advisory Committee of Rolls-Royce. He has been active in the area of “Sustainable Cities”, where he co-authored a book at MIT-Press on “Sustainable Urban Metabolism”. He is a member of the European Commission Mission Board on “Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities”, and he has been engaged with the U.S. National Academies as a member of the Sustainability Roundtable, the Committee on “Sustainability Linkages in the Federal Government” and the committee of “Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States”. He has been leading the urban project component in two ADB projects, for which the publication “Urban metabolism of six Asian Cities” emerged. He is author and co-author of nine books and more than hundred peer-reviewed papers published in scientific journals and a variety of book chapters and over hundred papers presented in conferences and invited talks in different domains.

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2021 June & July Wednesday Seminar Series on Sustainability and Circular Economy

A Better World by Design is our motto in Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) that is reflected in our teaching and research. A Better World in the 21st century must include sustainable development and human activities. Sustainability is a complex system-level challenge that requires innovation and collaborations at all fronts. In this online seminar series, speakers from SUTD and international institutions will share recent progresses on sustainability research topics, with a focus on achieving a circular economy. Topics range from the role of design in achieving a circular economy, circularity in manufacturing, our built environment, life cycle analyses and urban metabolism.