Study on urban material spatio-temporal metabolism and mechanisms in buildings and transport infrastructures: A case study in Beijing

Youth Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China 2019.01-2021.12


The rapid urbanization in China is unprecedented in terms of both speed and scale
during the past three decades. China has been one of the most populous countries
in the world with more than half of its population now living in cities.

The high volume of construction activities for fulfilling people’s dwelling and transport demands in cities have resulted the increasing need for materials and energy and led to a number of environmental pollution in soil, water, and atmosphere. The aim of this study is to explore the material metabolism on multiple spatio-temporal scales and its mechanisms in construction, use, and demolition processes of urban buildings and transport infrastructures. A material spatio-temporal metabolism model integrating the bottom-up material flows analysis (MFA) and the geographic information system (GIS) will be developed to simulate material stocks and flows in Beijing’s buildings and transport infrastructures from 1980 to 2015. Simulated results are used to compile a comprehensive material inventory, quantify spatio-temporal patterns, and identify key drivers, processes, and nodes.

This dynamic and spatially explicit material metabolism model can be further used to simulate the responses of material demands and allocations under several urban
development and management scenarios and find the optimal solution. Our results
could support urban mining assessment and cycle economy, help understanding of
material metabolism and mechanisms, and should be useful for designing effectivepolicies for city management and sustainability.


Material flow analysis; Industrial ecology; Geographic information system; Spatial analysis model; Resource management