Resources, Infrastructure Systems and built Environments

Department of Civil & Structural Engineering

Sheffield Urban Flows Observatory Material Stock and Circular Economy Work Stream


At the onset of the establishment of RISE, based on an examination of the broader body of research on Urban Metabolism (UM), the group concluded that traditional UM approaches and studies were at a deadend, largely as a result of data unavailability and little methodological progress, while the need for developing a framework of understanding for intra- and inter-urban flows remained crucial in order to deliver circular economic goals. RISE, in collaboration with the automatic control and systems engineering, has since been working on developing such a framework as a part of the Sheffield Urban Flows observatory (UF) under its material and circular economy (CE) theme. To address the lack of progress in urban metabolic studies, the RISE stream of work aspires to:

  1. improve the spatial and temporal scale of data,

  2. develop frameworks that support the understanding energy and resource flows across scales, and

  3. develop new methods that utilise these larger data sets and function across scales.

Our work on urban resource flows focuses on understanding and quantifying the effectiveness of the resource use for the systems of intra-urban and inter-urban resource flows. RISE has developed a framework and set of novel metrics to evaluate the state of resource use in the network based on the differential in resource quantity and quality between the cross-boundary inflows and outflows of the system.

Within the circular economy space, RISE activity is focused on enabling a scalable component-level bottom-up studies of the material stock across the urban built-environment. For this, in combination with traditional bottom up, typology based stock assessment, we have designed and deployed a multi-spectral sensing vehicle which enables the capture and creation of semantically labeled 3D surface maps of the built-environment allowing for much more accurate and spatially explicit estimation of the embodied carbon and CE potential in cities.

The briefing note attached outlines the group’s current and planned stream of work under this thematic area.