Cities and Energy Consumption: a Critical Review

  • Carmela Gargiulo University of Naples Federico II, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)
  • Laura Russo University of Naples Federico II, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)
Keywords: Cities, Energy Consumption, CO2 Emissions, Compact City, Sustainability


The relationship between cities and energy consumption has been of great interest for the scientific community for over twenty years. Most of the energy consumption, indeed, occurs in cities because of the high concentration of human activities. Thus, cities are responsible for a big share of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). However, the debate on this topic is still open, mainly because of the heterogeneity of published studies in the selection, definition and measurement of the urban features influencing energy consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as in the choice of the energy sectors to be considered, in the territorial scale of analysis, and in the geographical distribution of the sample. Therefore, the goal of this research is to systematize and compare the approach, methodology and results of the relevant literature on the relationship between cities and energy consumption over the last twenty years. Furthermore, this critical review identifies the knowledge gap between what is known and what is still under debate and, based on that, it proposes a conceptual framework that will help to outline a new direction for future research and support local policy makers in the definition of strategies and actions that can effectively reduce urban energy use and CO2 emissions.


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Author Biographies

Carmela Gargiulo, University of Naples Federico II, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)

Full professor of Urban Planning Techniques at the University of Naples Federico II. Since 1987 she has been involved in studies on the management of urban and territorial transformations. Since 2004, she has been Member of the Researcher Doctorate in Hydraulic, Transport and Territorial Systems Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II”. She is Member of the Committee of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Naples “Federico II”. Her research interests focus on the processes of urban requalification, on relationships between urban transformations and mobility, and on the estate exploitation produced by urban transformations. On these subjects she has co-ordinated research teams within National Project such as Progetto Finalizzato Edilizia - Sottoprogetto “Processi e procedure” (Targeted Project on Building – Subproject “Processes and procedures), from 1992 to 1994; Progetto Strategico Aree Metropolitane e Ambiente, (Strategic Project Metropolitan Areas and Environment) from 1994 to 1995; PRIN project on the “Impacts of mobility policies on urban transformability, environment and property market” from 2011 to 2013. Scientific Responsible of the Project Smart Energy Master for the energy management of territory financed by PON 04A2_00120 R&C Axis II, from 2012 to 2015. She is author of more than 90 publications.

Laura Russo, University of Naples Federico II, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (DICEA)
Engineer, Ph.D. in Civil Systems Engineering at University of Naples Federico II. She received a master’s degree in Architecture and Building Engineering with a thesis on urban expansion and the sprawl phenomena, with particular attention for Campania. Since 2014, she works at the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering – University of Naples Federico II – within the European project “Smart Energy Master” and her research activity is focused on the complex and multidimensional relationship between the city and energy consumption.


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How to Cite
GargiuloC., & RussoL. (2017). Cities and Energy Consumption: a Critical Review. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 10(3), 259-278.