Entropy and Cities: A Bibliographic Analysis towards More Circular and Sustainable Urban Environments

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Cities are critical to a sustainable future for our planet; still, the construction and operation of cities rely on intensive resource and energy use and transformation, leading to the generation of waste, effluents, and pollution, representing negative externalities outside and inside the city. Within every process, transformation implies the use of energy and the increase of entropy. In an urban system, the transformation of energy and materials will trigger the creation of entropic landscapes, mainly in the informal city and in unguarded natural landscapes, even hundreds of kilometers away, which generates substantial economic, social, and environmental impacts. In this sense, cities are significant contributors to the environmental crisis. Upstream, degradation of landscapes and ecosystems is frequent. Cities’ externalities and exogenous consumptions are directly linked with entropy and entropic landscapes, which are recognized as pollution (in the air, water, and land) or waste and in the degradation of natural ecosystems and communities. Through a systematic review of existing literature, this paper first outlines briefly how entropy has been applied in different disciplines and then focuses on presenting recent developments of how entropy has been defined, used, and characterized in urban studies concerning sustainability in cities and architecture, and presents a definition of the concept in relation to urban systems and key aspects to consider.

Translated title of the contributionEntropía y ciudades: Un análisis bibliográfico hacia entornos urbanos más circulares y sostenibles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number532
Issue number3
StatePublished - 19 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • circular economy
  • entropy
  • sustainable cities
  • sustainable developing
  • thermodynamics
  • urban entropy
  • urban studies
  • urban systems


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