The emergy systems-based approach. Prospects for an integrated sustainability assessment of civil works and urban plans”. In order to face and tackle the great changes of this century, the emergy systems-based approach is here presented. Rooted in systems thinking and with strong geobiophysical foundations, it can be considered as an effective support to integrated sustainability assessments. The concept of emergy, upon which it is based, allows to go beyond the mere monetary assessment, focused on the value bestowed by final users. It takes into account the real resources (energy, matter, etc.) that have been invested upstream. The illustration of the approach features explains the potentials of an emergy systems-based assessment, with specific reference to design and planning, for which the approach here illustrated is innovative. Prospects and features of structural upstream integration can be inferred from different experiences, namely ex post or in itinere evaluations, from single projects to urban metabolism.
Keywords: Systems Thinking; Emergy; Integrated Assessment; Sustainability; Civil Works; Urban Planning.