Call for a Holistic Understanding of Energy Consumption in Urban Cities

by Alejandra Chávez

The article begins by explaining that 80 percent of the world’s total energy production is consumed by urban areas, which are expanding and becoming increasingly complex. The largest energy-consuming areas are residential and commercial buildings, which are plentiful in urban areas and account for about one-third of the world’s total energy consumption. Although energy efficiency initiatives and renewable energy investments are often common in residential and urban buildings —mainly for economic reasons— the authors stress that a “holistic” understanding of all the factors that influence consumption rates must be developed.

For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected in their 2015 Annual Energy Outlook report that residential energy consumption will decrease by 0.3% and that commercial energy consumption will increase by 0.6%. These projections are not taking into consideration the location of the buildings, which, if spatial dependencies happen to be found, could cause completely different projections. Additionally, because the population of urban areas is expected to increase by nearly 70% by 2050, there will most likely be a rise in the number of human activities and developments that will significantly increase our energy consumption. This is especially true now that Exxon Mobile has estimated that the total energy demand of the world is expected to rise by more than 25% between 2010 and 2040.

The significance of urban spatial effects on building energy consumption was further explored by taking a closer look at the records of human mobility and energy consumption, over the course of a month, in Greater London and the City of Chicago. London and Chicago were chosen because of their urban location, population, and data availability. The article’s results demonstrate that current energy consumption does not take into consideration “intra-urban human mobility,” which along with spatial dependency, can significantly affect energy consumption predictions.


Mohammadi, Neda, John Taylor, and Yan Wang. “Towards Smarter Cities: Linking Human Mobility and Energy Use Fluctuations across Building Types.” Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 2017.


ScholarSpace ( )



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s