Faculty of Environment

Sustainable Cities Group

Leeds at night

Introduction

The Sustainable Cities Group is an inter-disciplinary network of researchers focused on the theory, action and policy of deepening urban sustainability in the coming decades. The Group takes as its starting point that this work needs to be transformational, going beyond the current ‘business as usual’ model, as urban societies run out of options to adjust.  We recognise that efforts to make cities more liveable, smarter, climate robust, energy efficient, mobile, connected and low carbon must be embedded in wider efforts to ensure social and ecological justice, maximise opportunities for participation and engagement and enhance the prosperity and well-being of residents. We aim to promote inter-disciplinary research and education to enhance knowledge, improve methods and find solutions which help cities tackle these challenges, whilst bringing together different perspectives from a wide variety of people that will shape the cities of the future, sharing ideas and developing action.

Areas of activity

Our research is focused on four thematic areas: Climate mitigation and adaptation, accessibility and mobility, environmental change and environmental and social justice.  We study these at the city-scale working locally with our city, Leeds, nationally within the UK and internationally, both in the Global North and South. 

Climate Mitigation and Adaptation and Energy: We research how cities can respond to climate change. We investigate how cities can reduce their overall greenhouse emissions, considering economics, policy and implementation issues and consider how cities can adapt to the changing climate. In relation to this we consider the role of energy generation, distribution and use. 

Accessibility and Mobility: These are key areas for improving quality of life, fighting social exclusion, promoting health, facilitating low energy futures, and increasing societal resilience. Future visions of transport must account for changing demographics and respond to changing behaviours and technologies whilst meeting the goals of the future city. 

Environmental Change: We are interested in reducing the overall environmental impact associated with cities. This includes topics such as use of green spaces, use of resources, water management, air quality and biodiversity management.

Environmental and Social Justice: Our focus here is on researching how different groups are adversely affected by the dynamics of change in cities, for example related to climate adaptation or from infrastructure development, and how policies and actions for greater sustainability can be implemented in a way that increases justice and equality.

Learning and civic engagement

Experimental learning and action with students in formal education and with civic partners sits at the centre of our activities.

Our research takes an integrated and holistic approach involving stakeholders and the general public to improve decision making and engage the public through enhanced participation to explore novel ideas and projects to transform cities. A key stone of our initiative is the concept of a City Living Lab - a physical space in the heart of the Leeds City Region that brings together universities, civil society, business and governments in dialogue and action aimed at innovative and transformative change.

You can read our strategic plan and vision from our Sept 2015 away day here.