Urban areas and environments are expanding worldwide and this ever-increasing urban population is likely to become larger still. Despite representing only two percent of the world's surface area, world's cities are responsible for 75 percent of the world's energy consumption, and they emit almost 80 percent of global carbon dioxide mainly related to fossil energy carriers. Therefore, cities are a cornerstone in the implementation of strategies for energy conservation and its efficiency, establishing an intrinsic union between the concepts-cities and-sustainability. Within the city, energy is consumed in different sectors in order to satisfy the needs of the citizens. For this reason, we propose an approach based on the functional unit concept linked to the activities undertaken in cities. This commentary focuses on the service sector, without any doubt the most representative of cities and the western countries. However, this sector requires an important material and energy base for its correct operation, not only to maintain itself but also coming from the inputs of the other sectors. To analyze the energetic and environmental costs of the service sector, we propose integrating analysis tools such as Energy Flow Analysis (EFA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and communication instruments like the energy footprint. These have been applied to two case studies in the metropolitan area of Barcelona: Montjuïc Urban Park (including cultural, educational and sport services) and Sant Boi Retail Park. The results indicate that the average energy consumed in buildings and common services (street lighting and gardening practices) per visitor in Montjuïc is 0.35 kilograms of oil equivalent (Koe); meanwhile, the purchases in the retail park amount to a similar value of 0.37 Koe of energy. When transportation activities are considered in the analysis of the system, this energy consumption is heavily increased, up to four times in the case of the retail park. The greenhouse gas emissions are also indicated for both case studies. The results show the relevance of the environmental impacts of the service sector, which up to the moment has been forgotten from the environmental perspective. © 2011 by Nova Science Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnergy and Buildings: Efficiency, Air Quality and Conservation
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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