Centre of Expertise Mission Zero

Research Group Urban Metabolism

The world is urbanizing fast. This requires a strategic vision of urban development and bold, sustainable solutions. How can governments, businesses, citizens and other stakeholders keep our urban environments liveable, end CO2 emissions, close cycles and create opportunities with waste?

About the research group

Cities are rapidly expanding. In order to cope with climate change and depletion of raw materials, cities should deal more efficiently with energy and materials.

Sustainable innovation of urban infrastructures is the core theme of the Urban Metabolism research group. This can be accomplished by developing synergies between systems: urban symbiosis. By developing synergies between urban systems, they jointly consume less energy and emit less CO2 than each separately, and resources can be recovered from waste streams. Generating heat by using the road surface is an example of this. Or make biogas during waste processing. Flows such as drinking water, sewage, electricity and waste can also be connected to achieve higher efficiencies.

Often, the best way to achieve this is at the local level: Sustainable solutions are often local solutions, that require the support of citizens and enable their active engagement.

About the professor

dr. ir. Karel Mulder

Dr. ir. Karel Mulder studied both physics and philosophy of science, technology and society at the University of Twente. In 1992 he obtained his PhD at the University of Groningen for a thesis on research strategies of large companies. Afterwards he was employed as a senior lecturer at Delft University of Technology. He spent some time as guest researcher at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona) and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Since 2015, Mulder has been a Professor in Urban Metabolism at The Hague University of Applied Sciences

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How can cities make good use of waste, for instance by converting it into heat and then supplying it directly through the heating network? A complex but interesting question!




The Dutch municipality of Horst on the Maas and ProRail are keen to stimulate the generation of renewable energy. As partners in NEWRAIL (Noise Energy Wall Rail America in Limburg), they are testing innovations that will deliver high energy yields. This research involves mounting solar panels on both new and existing sound barrier walls. Mounting solar panels on sound barriers is a new and ground-breaking idea. That’s why more research is needed to find the best method of installation. The innovative project NEWRAIL (Noise Energy Wall Rail America in Limburg) is an initiative of ProRail in collaboration with the municipality of Horst aan de Maas, TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), energy cooperative Reindonk Energie, and The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
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