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Focus Areas

Urban Sustainability

Working toward sustainable and resilient cities

United States and global populations are becoming ever more urbanized. In 1950, less than 30% of the world’s population lived in cities and it is expected to grow to more than 70% by 2050. This rapid growth strains a cities' capacity to provide energy, transportation, clean water, adequate and safe food, sanitation, and health and human services. Stressors such as climate change compound the impacts of urbanization.

Urban areas are growing because they provide a high concentration of jobs and are hubs for economic opportunity. Because governments typically budget and spend only on the basic upkeep of cities and the provision of services, cities are not equipped to tackle the step change in requirements to manage or effectively plan for the exponential population growth that is ongoing and likely to continue for decades. Thus, cities are often plagued with massive sprawl, serious environmental problems, and deteriorating public health—all resulting in significant impacts. Cities that are sustainable and resilient are designed to prevent, or minimize, these issues. Specifically, they are designed to minimize inputs such as energy and water, and outputs such as greenhouse gases and solid waste, all while fostering economic development and improved standards of living. 

Our Expertise in Urban Sustainability

RTI has been working in—and with—cities for decades by solving issues related to climate change, energy, water, waste management, and air quality.  Our urban sustainability expertise includes:

  • Building integrated, multidisciplinary teams that can quickly and creatively solve complex challenges such as those associated with rapid urbanization in the face of climate change. 
  • Experience across key sectors and environmental media coupled with our economic and environmental modeling techniques to deliver the rigorous data analysis required for low-emission development strategies and evaluations. 
  • Development of analyses at various geographic scales, from local to global, and a proven track record of working with local experts to build capacity. 
  • Supporting communities in disaster and climate change adaptation and resilience through assessing a range of vulnerabilities, providing tools to prioritize mitigation actions and decisions that account for future change, and increasing preparedness through planning and response.

We bring science to city planning and operations that will lead to resilient, sustainable, and affordable urbanization.