We turn on the lights in our house from a desk in an office from miles away. Our refrigerator alerts us to buy milk on the way home. A package of cookies on the supermarket shelf suggests that we buy it, based on past purchases. The cookies themselves are on the shelf because of a “smart” supply chain. When we get home, the thermostat has already adjusted the temperature so that it’s toasty or bracing, whichever we prefer. This is the Internet of Things—a networked world of connected devices, objects, and people. Samuel Greengard, author of The Internet of Things paints this picture of the emerging world in his book.  

The Internet of Things (IoT), certainly has paved the way for us to rethink how building communication systems can improve the livability of a built space by creating efficient connections between the user and his/her devices. The Internet of Buildings (IoB) research explores possibilities of applying the same principle to improve the livability of urban spaces by creating efficient connections between citizens and city infrastructure. For efficient operation of IoB and harness intended outputs, it is necessary to assess similarities and dis-similarities of IoT and IoB. Potency of each discourse coincides in terms of fundamental need for integration of sensing and actuating technologies. And hence development of the internet could be highly dependent on technological advancement of sensors and actuators. While IoT is enhancing building performance, effectively causing innovation in the building and construction industry, leading to creation of new kinds of tech embedded building elements, IoB ought to consider broader urban context. Scaling up the same principle in urban scale would require new parameters and also perhaps change in weightage of those parameters. For example, IoB would require more consideration of existing building typologies which in most cases are operational. Also, successful IoB ought to consider pragmatic application of network in existing context and at the same time should be able to project new discourse regarding building typologies and/or urban morphologies with aim for addressing various areas of concerns of humanity in the 21st century. 




The evolution of human societies now raises the question of the future of their energy and their environmental impacts. With the depletion of fossil energy resources, we observe that international legislation and especially European policies lead to an energy transition focused on local and renewable resources. By 2050, it is estimated that the world population will reach 9.6 billion, 66% of whom will live in urban areas. Currently, 54% of the population live in these areas and cities already represent 70% of the total emissions of CO2. This defined the urban scale as a target for the implantation of sustainable resources management.  

For a circular economy it is essential to recycle materials from waste in order ‘to close the loop’. The recovery of energy from waste also plays an important role. Waste disposal should be phased out and, where it is unavoidable, it must be adequately controlled to be safe for human health and the environment. As the EU has given priority to circular economy policies, the JRC has been providing research support on the waste-related aspects of the circular economy. To that end, it has been working with stakeholder experts in carefully structured and transparent consultation processes. The outputs include proposing end-of-waste criteria for certain waste streams, as well as safety and quality requirements for recycled materials; producing reference information on best available techniques and best practices; and carrying out techno-economic and environmental assessments of recycling processes, waste-to-energy options, and waste disposal operations. 

At city scale, Barcelona City Council is launching an awareness and communication campaign for the Plan for Raising Awareness in Improving Organic-Waste Collections, which is being pilot-tested in four of the city’s neighborhoods, to improve organic waste collection both quantitatively and qualitatively. Based on a preliminary study that took into account the neighborhoods’ features and organic matter collection rates, the neighborhoods chosen for the pilot test are La Barceloneta, Les Roquetes, El Putxet i Farró, and El Guinardó. These are four neighborhoods with very different realities, as well as unequal results as regards organic waste collection.  It is aimed at each resident as well as neighborhood organizations and associations. 



Impact created by operation of IoB relies on multiscaler , multidimensional application and consistent development of sensing and actuating technologies. In context of waste management, four technologies are explored-  

1.Anaerobic digestion  


3.Conventional and Crowd sourced data 


1.Anaerobic digestion 


Thermodynamics in Anaerobic digestion 


Anaerobic digestion (AD) is one of the technologies highlighted for this transition due to its capacity to recover nutrients and carbon for soil, to valorize organic waste, and to produce energy such as biogas. Indeed, the process may increase the fraction of renewable energy in the mix of a country’s consumption. Moreover, with the amount of organic wastes in urban scale, this will lead to a renewable treatment of organic matter. At international level, some sustainable districts lead pilots on this way, supported by preexisting valorization processes or take place in specific new units. Although the potential is high, there is still a lack of knowledge to fit this process into tomorrow’s urban areas. 

To construct the research of anaerobic digestion and integration at urban scale, 15 international projects of urban waste valorization were selected and studied. Three of these projects are developed to describe the different elements and processes implied in these valorization systems. Thus, in situ and ex situ anaerobic digestion are described with functional implementation and units in development or abandoned. Once the leading steps and main parameters on the waste management system are identified, the discussion is performed to compare the operational systems implemented in the 15 cases studies. The analysis takes processes and biological parameters into account in addition to social, financial, and ecological elements available. The achievements and limits of case studied linked to their context, bringing advice and recommendations. 

In conclusion, researchers identified parameters that are critical for integrating anaerobic digestion at urban scale- Availability of organic waste, Collection process, Storage process, Local grid and Scale mechanisms. Thus, anaerobic digestion in situ is emphasized for new district buildings with low urban density, while ex situ process could be more accommodated to high urban densities or projects including preexistent waste management. From the 15 case studies, the co-digestion process is highlighted to perform global waste management and produce valuable by products. Nevertheless, the use of blackwater, for in situ units, involves specific processes to limit the amount of water and reduce the reactor sizing. Further knowledge is also currently needed about the development of collection systems for urban waste and the impact of pretreatment on AD. The involvement of scientific, economic, social, and political communities is also highlighted as essential for the long-term success of the valorization system integrated at urban scale. 




Steemit user-interface 


STEEM Park is the first public design project fully funded by cryptocurrency. The physical components of the project were financed 100% by blogging rewards and engaging with the Steemit community. It is the first public-interest project supported completely by public interest. STEEM Park is a proven concept that local community projects can be initiated and sustained through a global attention economy. 

Steemit platform everyday creates pool of system generated of coins. Users with likes and comments divert those funds to projects of their choice. STEEM Park is just one example of a project created with the goal of creating something physical that would engage a community of stakeholders both online (Steemit) and offline (Brooklyn). Digital platforms like steemit can offer a bottom-up approach in development of urban projects that can ensure more informed more contextualized choice of design solution.


3.Conventional and Crowd sourced data 


Overpass turbo 


Both conventional and crowd sourced data sources are critical. For example, land use data for mapping and analyzing sources of organic waste. Crowd sourced data for analyzing current situation of waste collection facilities. In order to address areas of concerns, both kinds of data are critical to define and also refine building typologies the city has to offer. And data has to be superimposed with information regarding applicable technologies. Such methodology would impart more rationality in decision making. For instance, Aerobic and Anaerobic are the most popular ways of digesting organic waste. Former is a cheaper, faster, odor producing method whilst the latter is an expensive, slower and odorless process. Hence it becomes imperative to co-relate this information with land-use data. So, if the neighborhood is to incorporate both kinds of digestion, industrial could be better fit for aerobic digestion whereas residential buildings could be more fit for accommodating components of anaerobic digestion. Hence superimposition of various data/information/discourses becomes imperative in order to bring more rationality in decision making processes.  

Furthermore, application of sensing technologies, digital platforms and actuating components of systems will lead to generation of new kinds of data. And for that new methods need to be conceived to feed that data back into a system that can enhance operation of IoB at same time make the network adaptive for unforeseen challenges. 




Decentralised nature, holistic approach and incorporation of multifaceted strategy can harness its inherent potency to have multilayered impact on CO2 emissions, transportation, resource management and local economy. Also, selective collection of organic waste can also have positive side effects such as lower contamination rate for all kinds of waste and higher recycling rate for other materials.  




  1. Bautista Angeli, J.R., Morales, A., LeFloc’h, T. et al. Anaerobic digestion and integration at urban scale: feedback and comparative case study. Energ Sustain Soc 8, 29 (2018).













  1. Thermodynamics in Anaerobic digestion


  2. Steemit user-interface

  3. Overpass turbo


‘Internet of Buildings, Organic Waste and Circular economy’ is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia
developed at Master in City & Technology in (2019/2020) by:
Students: Michelle Rodriguez, Akshay Marsute
Faculty: Mathilde Marengo (Theory of Cities), Areti Markopoulou, Alex Mademo, Iacopo Neri (Internet of Buildings)