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Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy – book review

Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, edited by Arnulf Grubler and David Fisk, is a very well written book describing challenges and opportunities to define, analyze, and implement sustainable energy development for 21st Century urban centers. Urban populations, while roughly 50% of the global population, consume over 75% of the globe’s energy. Therefore, developing frameworks to assess, analyze and implement sustainable energy systems that meet the criteria for these urban populations is foundational to mitigating climate change, halting biodiversity loss, and improving water quality globally.

Professors Arnulf Grubler and David Fisk, in Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, have edited a well-thought out, structured analysis of sustainable energy criteria for cities in the 21st Century. Based on the Global Energy Assessment, this book provides the reader with easy-to-understand explanations, colorful graphs and diagrams, and case studies with citations that demonstrate how energy consumption is embedded and housed within broader sustainability issues related to urban development.

In Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, energy consumption issues are addressed quantitatively and qualitatively. The book is organized into three sections: the urbanization context, the urban challenges, and urban policy opportunities and responses. This has made the book the ideal textbook for graduate students and the ideal resource book for city managers and consultants. Finally, climate change constraints, challenges, and opportunities are woven throughout Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy.

Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy explains energy accounting effectively. Furthermore, this provides an effective contrast between energy accounting and greenhouse gas accounting. This results in clear discussions on topics ranging from how measure urban energy use to energy access and demand for low-income groups to analysis of air pollution densities and heat island effects to supply and demand constraints.

Currently, there are roughly 800 million individuals who live in urban centers in low and middle income nations. For many of these individuals, energy sources vary dramatically from biomass to dung to kerosene, depending on the source of energy available that day in the local market. Furthermore, for these same individuals, energy costs are highly variable on month-to-month basis and can account for greater than 40% of their household income.

Because of this, it is very important to use the appropriate indicators of energy use when measuring household energy use for these 800 million individuals. For example, as explained in Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, it is better to use the indicator of incapacity to afford energy than % of household income spent on energy consumption. When an individual’s income increases, as a result, they then climb the energy use ladder. This means they go from being able to cook once a day with biomass to cooking three times a day with natural gas. This may result in increasing the percentage of household income spent on energy consumption. But a better metric to measure their energy consumption is to instead measure their incapacity to afford and have access to renewable and sustainable energy.

Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy, edited by Arnulf Grubler and David Fisk, is an excellent book for those interested in understanding the linkages between energy use and sustainable economic development.

How to order:

Energizing Sustainable Cities: Assessing Urban Energy

Publisher: Earthscan from Routledge

Editors: Arnulf Grubler and David Fisk

ISBN: 978-1849714396

Gabriel Thoumi, CFA, LEED AP, is a natural resource scientist and financial consultant.

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