ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY
4,5 ECTS credits.
Urban environmental issues
This lecture introduces the main environmental issues at urban scale serving as a starting point for discussion of strategic approaches to solve them. The main problems are those threats to present or future human well-being, resulting from human-induced damage to the physical environment, originating in urban areas. This includes: environmental problems such as ambient air pollution, inadequate waste management and pollution of rivers, lakes and coastal areas; extra-urban impacts such as ecological disruption and resource depletion in a city’s surroundings, and emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases; and regional or global environmental burdens that arise from activities outside a city’s boundaries, but that may affect people living in the city.
Air quality management
Air quality is an important issue with direct implications on urban planning, mobility and public management in general. Meeting air quality standards in urban environment is essential but also very challenging since both population and emissions concentrate on urban environments. Effective measures and strategies to improve air quality in the city must take into account the influences of most of the emission sectors involving different pollutants and a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Additionally potential negative impacts on productive activities as well as social and economical costs play an important role. This module uses the Madrid case study as an illustrative example of a real problem and the development of a local air quality strategy. The lecture includes the description of the case, highlighting the main objectives, challenges and constrains both technically and policy wise.
Air quality modeling
Air quality modeling is one of the main tools for the development of an urban air quality plan. In this course, the main type of models are briefly reviewed and discussed to understand the combination of modeling techniques needed to meet the requirements of the case study. The students are asked to propose an air quality model considering their limitations, reliability, input information, needs for calibration and evaluation, costs, etc. The solutions are discussed and compared with the option selected for the Madrid city pointing out the rationale for that choice, the model setup, main results and options for future improvements. Special attention is paid to the criteria needed to understand the information conveyed by the simulations by reflecting on the uncertainty and representativeness of the results.
Urban AQ & health
Despite meeting the legal standards, public health is the ultimate target of urban air quality plans. The course includes a succinct background on air pollution and health and the different methodologies to assess urban exposure. The lectures include a very recent real case study in the UK. Materials cycle in the city It is essential to move away from the simple waste concept towards the sustainable management of resources, especially within the city. This requires life cycle thinking (LCT), which is supported through high value end-of-life services, knowledge, and education. Life cycle thinking in urban decision-making is necessary to avoid the unintentional shifting of burdens amongst different types of impacts on society and the environment, between different regions, as well as between the different upstream and downstream stages in the life cycles associated with the provision of goods and services (products). This is achieved, in some cases, through common sense, in others using quantitative tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Such life cycle tools equally help quantify and communicate the benefits of different waste management strategies, including the potential for important reductions in e.g. greenhouse gas emissions associated with recycling, energy recovery, and bio-composting. This lecture is focused on providing the students appropriate tools
and knowledge to stimulate life cycle thinking in the context of Municipal Solid Waste Management.
Municipal Solid Waste Management
This module uses three case studies as illustrative examples of Municipal Solid Waste Management considering relevant variables influencing the technological selection (i.e. population served, urban design, city development level, etc.). A variety of cases are selected from Latin America, Asia and Europe areas. Each lecture includes the description of the case, highlighting the main objectives, challenges and constrains both technically and policy wise.