Bottom up community to gather material flows data | Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation
Business case
Bottom up community to gather material flows data

Urban metabolism studies the sustainability of cities by quantifying and unpacking material and energy flows. Through understanding how energy and materials flow through a city, we can understand more clearly where and how we can improve. We also become more aware of the relationships between materials, industries, people and technologies. Metabolism of Cities aims to provide an open-source, participatory platform that improves the collection, sharing and analysis of urban metabolism data and tools.


Lacking coherent and standardised data on urban metabolism makes unified and efficient action more difficult.


Metabolism of Cities has created a network of websites, supported by a non-profit registered in Brussels, Belgium, and run by different communities composed of volunteers. As a non-profit, Metabolism of Cities aims to support initiatives that are participatory in nature and set up by the community. Such initiatives can vary from short-term exhibitions, to multi-year efforts to catalogue and share data. Projects also differ in their implementation: some involve on-the-ground intervention, while others mainly use digital platforms to communicate information. On the digital side, Metabolism of Cities runs a data hub, library, education hub and multimedia library. On-the-ground projects include master classes, an urban metabolism and minorities project, a seminar series, and the CityLoops project.


Since its launch, Metabolism of Cities has reached several key milestones: the development of an Online Material Flow Analysis Tool and the Metabolism of Cities Library, and that creation of an initiative that helps localise the UN sustainable development goals in support of minority groups. At this point, the organisation is working with 28 partners on interventions in six cities across Europe to close the loop for urban material flows.

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