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Environmental impact assessment of agro-services symbiosis in semiarid urban frontier territories. Case study of Mendoza (Argentina)

Bonilla-Gámez, Natalia; Toboso-Chavero, Susana; Parada, Felipe; Civit, Bárbara; Pablo Arena, Alejandro; Rieradevall, Joan; Gabarrell, Xavier

Science of The Total Environment. Volume 774. 20 June 2021. 145682


In the next 10 years, cities will house 60% of the world’s population, where in agro-urban frontier territories, mainly in semiarid regions, problems associated with land use and water distribution will arise. Therefore, a model of growth that contemplates the lowest use of resources must be proposed. The aim of this study is to determine the environmental impact of the use of resources in agro-services frontier territories of semiarid regions in three urban growth scenarios, linear and circular systems. The study is focused on Luján de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina. Through a life cycle assessment, environmental performance was evaluated for the current scenario and the three proposed ones. In addition, an ecoefficiency analysis was performed in relation to climate change and water consumption and the cost of surface uses, as well as an assessment according to the multifunctionality of surface use. Scenario 1 is a linear diffuse urban system, scenario 2 a circular water agro-urban system, and scenario 2 green plus energy a circular water and energy agro-urban system. The outcomes illustrate that scenario 2 green plus energy has the least environmental impacts. Compared to the linear scenario, both circular scenarios show a substantial reduction in water consumption (38–40%) and marine eutrophication (32–47%) and curtail freshwater eutrophication impacts. Furthermore, household energy impacts are reduced by 39% in scenario 2 green plus energy with photovoltaic panel implementation, and maximum ecoefficiency in response to climate change is reached. Additionally, the impacts of scenario 2 green plus energy are more than 42% less than those of scenario 1 in terms of the multifunctionality of surface use. This study shows that it is possible to achieve more sustainable semiarid urban frontier territories with local water and regional energy circularity.