Special Report, 3 July 2016

Covestro has produced bio-based PU dispersions for textile applications
Growing demands from brand owners and consumers for fibres and textiles that are more environmentally friendly are now creating a huge market for bio-based polymers produced using renewable feedstocks. The textile and packaging industries have a significant impact on the environment: this report highlights how recent developments in new materials support SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, and SDG 7 Affordable and Clean Energy.
Constructing and maintaining transportation infrastructure is very resource intensive and can have negative impacts on the environment. Reviewing geotechnical engineering in transport infrastructure highlights the transformation in the past twenty years to using more sophisticated technologies integrating sustainability principles. SDG target 11.2 aims to provide sustainable transport systems, which this article focuses on, in particular activities relevant to sustainable earthwork construction aimed at minimising the use of energy and production of CO2.

Energy geotechnics involves the use of geotechnical principles to understand and engineer the coupled thermo-hydro-chemo-mechanical processes encountered in collecting, exchanging, storing, and protecting energy resources in the subsurface. In addition to research on these fundamental coupled processes and characterization of relevant material properties, applied research is being performed to develop analytical tools for the design and analysis of different geo-energy applications. This paper summarizes some of the major research and practical developments in the emerging area of energy geotechnics which relates to SDG 7, 11 and 13.

Physical inactivity kills more than 5 million people every year through its effects on multiple non-communicable diseases. As such, design of urban environments has the potential to contribute substantially to physical activity. This article documents how attributes of the urban environment are related to physical activity in an international sample of adults. The findings add strength to previous calls for policy changes in the urban planning, transport, and parks and recreation sectors to reduce the health burden of the global physical inactivity pandemic, directly supporting SDG 11 target 7.
Public rental housing (PRH) projects are the mainstream of China's new affordable housing policies. This study proposes an assessment model of the integrated sustainability for PRH projects. Integration of sustainability in PRH projects like these can contribute to advancing SDG 11.3 to enhance sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.
Achieving SDG 11 will require new technologies and innovations to be deployed in the real-estate sector. Already blockchain and artificial intelligence form the foundations of smart buildings, using data on residents' personal preferences to be able to improve efficiency and comfort. This article explores the different technologies and innovations that provide significant untapped potential in the real estate sector.
Food security is enshrined in SDG2 and is also a core component of the human development and capability paradigm, since food access and entitlements are critical for reinforcing essential human capabilities. This paper argues that agriculture is central to improving food security and reducing poverty in Africa, requiring rapid increases in land productivity and increases in agricultural yields. A science-based approach that integrates gender and sustainability is critical to design and implement policies that improve the availability of farm inputs and farm technology.

Energy and Buildings, Volume 116, 15 March 2016, Pages 703-708

The smart grid's components
Target 11.6 aims to reduce the environmental impact of cities. Technological advances in electric power grid infrastructure, the smart grid, means a greener, more efficient and more adaptable grid. The relationship with the building and the community is explored in this paper to provide a contemporary look at the current state of the art in the potential of buildings and communities to be integrated in smart grids as well as to discuss the still-open research issues in this field.

Building and Environment, Volume 97, 15 February 2016, Pages 196-202

Heat map of simulated annual heating demand for South Boston using UMI (a) and daily gas and electricity demand profiles for the highlighted building in South Boston (b).
Targets to reduce GHG emissions in cities require significant political willpower. Transportation and industrial activity have varying contributing factors to GHG in cities, while emissions from buildings is always a key contributor. Understanding building emissions is important in achieving SDG 11 and SDG 13. This article reviews both individual building energy models and regional and country-level building stock models as a way of analysing the energy performance of neighbourhoods.
Key strategies to low energy buildings
The behaviour of a building's occupant has a significant impact on the energy consumption of that building. Behaviour patterns of building occupants are uncertain but social scientists have been studying behaviour patterns for decades. Drawing on this research, this paper explores advances and obstacles in modelling occupant behaviour and the impact this can have on measuring energy consumption. Target 11.6 is concerned with reducing the adverse impacts of cities, therefore understanding and being able to predict occupant behaviour will play an important role in achieving this target.