Promoting and implementing urban sustainability in China: An integration of sustainable initiatives at different urban scales

Bao Jie He, Dong Xue Zhao, Jin Zhu, Amos Darko, Zhong Hua Gou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Many uncontrollable risks and uncertainties emerge during transitions pathways. Previous studies have examined the “formula” of successful sustainable initiatives (SIs), while there have been few attempts to explore the reciprocities amongst them. Therefore, this study is to investigate the linkages among and mutual benefits among SIs at different urban scales for tackling their risks and uncertainties. The low-carbon eco-city, green university and green building in China are selected as the representatives at city, community and building scales for elaborating their linkages. In the city-community-building system, the GB implementation builds up the internal momentum that can lead to the changes of sustainable interests, rules and beliefs at the community scale, which then results in the changes on city structures, according to the theory of multi-level perspective. Akin to living organisms, cities witness the energy and materials flowing across different urban scales. Resources during SI implementation at a specific level can be shared by SIs at other levels. Meanwhile, the output of an SI can be transferred as the input of SIs at other levels. The commonalities among assessment systems of LCEC, GU and GB can upscale or downscale the successful experiments across different scales, contributing to the overcome of political, financing and operating risks and certainties. This paper can inform people with understandings of the vertical integration of SIs for sustainability transitions on the one hand and can practically provide decision-makers with an approach to overcoming the barriers in SI implementation on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalHabitat International
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • City-community-building system
  • Green building
  • Green university
  • Low-carbon eco-city
  • Risks and uncertainties
  • Sustainability transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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