Urban Energy & Environment Lab
As more people around the world settle in urban areas, consumption of energy and natural resources increases rapidly. A majority of the world’s energy already gets consumed by cities—in the buildings where we live and work, by the cars and buses that we use to get around, and in the industrial facilities that produce our goods. And, while urban areas are engines of innovation and job creation, they also are home to the many adverse impacts associated with increased energy production and resource use such as air and water pollution.
- 6.4 billion - Number of people worldwide projected to live in urban areas by 2050, up from 3.9 billion in 2014
- Up to 76 percent - The segment of global energy consumed by urban areas
- 75 percent - The segment of global carbon emissions generated by urban areas.
Because cities will confront urgent energy and environmental challenges in the coming decade, the University of Chicago has launched in 2015 the Urban Energy & Environment Lab – one of five labs focused on identifying and testing the most promising urban policies to confront our greatest challenges.
The Innovation Challenge is a key project of the Urban Energy & Environment Lab. The Challenge seeks to solicit ideas from the community organizations and businesses that know their city best, put those ideas to work starting in Chicago, and test the ideas to guide successful energy policies that can be implemented nationally and internationally.
UChicago researchers already know that this approach works. In India’s Gujarat, an urban center with a population of 60 million, the Urban Energy & Environment Lab’s Director Michael Greenstone and his colleagues worked with local officials to improve the environmental auditing system. Their pilot reforms reduced pollution emissions by 28 percent and in January were officially adopted by the Gujarat government.