Sustainable Cities: Urbanization, Infrastructure, and Finance
Course Number 1485
Senior Lecturer John D. Macomber
Winter; Q3; 1.5 credits
Jointly-listed at Harvard Design School
This course is about creating value in sustainable cities. Around the globe, the migration of hundreds of millions of people from countryside to cities will be a major force shaping societies and businesses for decades to come. At the same time, important resources like energy, clean water, clean air, and land are becoming increasingly scarce and costly. Governments have decreasing capability to directly fund infrastructure and urban development. The confluence of these three trends means extensive opportunity for private sector investment. This course develops skills for addressing these trends and explores strategies for making a difference at the city and regional scale. Both US and non-US situations are studied.
This course will benefit students who intend to be managers, capital providers, or advisors to organizations which look ahead to compete in a context of urbanization and resource scarcity. Typical roles would include service businesses, infrastructure finance, project finance, public sector consulting, private equity, urban planning and design firms, not-for-profits, and real estate development, among others. There is particular emphasis on financial tools and design practices relating directly or indirectly to the built environment (urban areas, buildings within them, and large systems like energy, ground transportation, and water).
The objective of the course is to help managers to understand the concepts, skills, and strategies that inform competition in this setting. The course focuses on creating business value through approaches which reduce demand and increase resource effectiveness, as distinct from supply based approaches like alternative energy or agricultural efficiency. Since few individual businesses or organizations can directly influence demographic changes or government policy, the emphasis is on equipping business leaders to act in the context of trends and circumstances while using resources which they control.
Course Content and Organization
The course is organized into several modules. The modules are intended to share the context of the issues, advance a number of models, and share best practices.
Context: Demand, demographics, shortages of supply, funding problems. The political leverage of cities (as compared to federal governments).
- Finance: Public private partnerships, large project finance, municipal finance, FBOT (Finance-Build-Operate-Transfer)
- Transit: Rail, bus, metro, roads
- Water: City and Regional Scale
- Smart Cities and Eco-Cities
- Structured finance, large scale promoters, long view of economic competitiveness and resource efficiency
- Design and Implementation of Livable Cities
"Sustainable Cities" is an appropriate complement in particular for "Environmentally Sustainable Strategy & Operations," "FC: Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment," "Real Estate Development, Design, and Construction," and "Cleantech: Competing on Resource Efficiency." There is little overlap with related concepts in "The Energy Business and Geopolitics" or "Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid."