Activities and Objectives

Ecourbanism is a five year research project funded by the Government of Canada Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Program that is based out of the Urban Studies program at Simon Fraser University.

The pursuit of sustainable alternative neighbourhood scale developments is on the rise worldwide.  Despite standardization efforts, such as certification frameworks and metrics, there is a lack of consistent cross-cultural understanding of what meaningful ecourbanism is in specific terms.

This research examines the trends towards both standardization and fragmentation within these new pieces of cities.  We research motivations, criticisms and governance, amongst other relevant topic areas, seeking an understanding about the integration of this new neighbourhood form and lifestyle context within cities.

Key Research Questions:

  • What are the cases for and against ecourban development?
  • What are ecourban trends doing to and for the city?
  • What do we need to know about all ecourban developments?
  • What are the achieved outcomes of the integrated ideals expressed by ecourban developments?

Research Objectives:

  • To catalogue the emergent ecourban trend internationally and open up this catalogue for ongoing update and dialogue among professionals, researchers, and concerned members of the public.
  • To work towards a normative framework for evaluating what features do and do not exist, alongside what is useful and not useful, about ‘sustainable’ urban redevelopment projects.  This seeks to understand ecourban neighbourhoods as sets of public arguments, built forms, and policy initiatives, many of which are related to establishing new relationships between the city and its nonhuman as well as human life.
  • To isolate and understand the key features determining the role of ecourban neighbourhoods as models.


  • Engage a multistakeholder international advisory group of professionals in the practice of governing, designing, building, operating and integrating model sustainable neighbourhoods in different urban contexts to advise the design of a resource compendium of practices and outcomes.
  • Build an online, “living” compendium of resources for the governance, design, building, operation and integration of model sustainable neighbourhoods as an international, community-of-practice owned and operated tool. Integrate third-party research-based assessments of case studies within this compendium with project-manager-supplied information.
  • Conduct and compile a series of in-depth case studies of ecourban projects in different national contexts, at different stages of completion, and taking different approaches to defining and implementing a model sustainable neighbourhood.
  • Contribute to the collective understanding of ecourban developments through ongoing research publications and participation in conferences and research forums.
  • Publish a book that presents a view of the prospects and limitations for living in 21st century cities based on experiences to date in creating model sustainable neighbourhoods.