Our natural resources are not finite and continue to seriously impact upon the global economy. Indeed, resource efficiency affects every business and its associated supply chains in some way, shape or form.

The rapid depletion of resources and scarcity of materials coupled with an ever present agenda to minimise industrial impacts upon the environment and to develop a sustainable low carbon economy, are challenges at the very core of the manufacturing arena.

Add to this the demands of a growing population – forecasts warn of one billion new consumers in cities by 2025 and an increase in consumption by $10tn – and the issue is set to become ever more challenging.

The design and development of our built environments is therefore central to the issue and to this end The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has launched its vision of future cities.

The CPI system clearly demonstrates the ways in which technology and innovation can combine to achieve sustainable living. Moreover, this vision is not unrealistic as many of the technologies currently exist but must be integrated to achieve the vision.

Graham Hillier, director of strategies, CPI, said, “The key to sustainability is harnessing our natural resources and making them work smarter and harder. With this in mind we have developed a vision for a city where waste streams from industry and agriculture will generate energy through anaerobic digestion and also be recycled and reused to create new and useful products – where buildings integrate PV cells and sensors into the actual building design to improve efficiency – where the growth of energy crops such as algae enhance our carbon capture amongst other features.”

While this may appear to be a dramatic way of thinking CPI believes it is very much needed if the resource efficiency issue is to be addressed. Furthermore, CPI believes its system is achievable and the focus should be placed upon combining and integrating technologies and applying them in innovative ways to tackle resource efficiency and develop truly sustainable ways of living, which encompass all aspects of city life.

As part of the government’s catapult network, CPI has experience in this arena and its team of scientists and engineers have successfully delivered projects such as those featured in the city. It hopes that through the creation of the sustainable cities system, wider industry can begin to realise how feasible the vision is and look at ways of integrating existing and emerging technologies and systems to ensure the cities of the future become the cities of today.

The organisation is encouraging all aspects of industry to contact its team to explore ways in which CPI can work with businesses to make this vision a reality.