WIT Press

Significance Of Global Oil Depletion To Urban Residential Development


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

151 - 163




3,494 kb


R. J. Brewster


The global production of oil is predicted to peak in the first decade(s) of this century and decline, while demand outstrips the discovery and exploitation of new oil sources. Land use (spatial) planning has largely failed to address the full consequences of the accelerating impacts of post-peak oil demand and subsequent oil depletion, as they may affect planning future urban growth in the Australian and wider global context. This paper lays the groundwork for a PhD methodology that investigates oil dependency issues in the sustainable planning context, based on a literature review, to establish relationships linking direct and indirect oil related inputs to urban land development and residential construction. The literature review failed to reveal conclusive information – beyond embodied energy in building materials and energy efficiency in ‘green building’– or theories about how future oil supply constraints may affect the feasibility of urban land development and residential building construction. The conclusion to the literature review is that urban planning is based on the underlying assumption of a business-as-usual approach to urban residential development, albeit with higher prices for petrol consumption in transport. The research points to a hypothesis that relationships linking oil related inputs to urban residential development suggest some current forms of development in the Australian and wider context may become unsustainable in a future with globally constrained oil supply (this will later extend to gas supply). The urban metabolism model indicates the broad relationships, but not relative oil vulnerabilities of urban development, or the mitigating factors. Further case study analysis of material flows of oil related inputs for a representative residential typology will assess how future oil constraints may


cities, oil depletion, peak oil, sustainable construction, urban form