Sustainable Cities: Urbanization, Infrastructure, and Finance
Jointly Listed at Harvard Business School as HBS 1485
GSD students should register for this course as GSD 7309. The course GSD 7409, \”Real Estate Development, Design, and Construction\” continues in the same time block through the end of April. Together the two courses constitute a full 4 credits. This course is taught by the HBS Case Study method. Grading is by a combination of class participation and final exam. Students registered into GSD 7309M3 receive a GSD format grade, not an HBS grade. This is primarily a finance course, with significant aspects of urban planning and design woven in.
Around the globe, the migration of hundreds of millions of people from countryside to cities will be a major force shaping societies and businesses for decades to come. At the same time, important resources like energy, clean water, clean air, and land are becoming increasingly scarce and costly. Governments have decreasing capability to directly fund infrastructure and the built environment. This course develops skills for addressing these trends and explores strategies for making a difference. Both US and non-US situations are studied.
This course will benefit students who intend to be managers, capital providers, or advisors to organizations which look ahead to compete in a context of urbanization and resource scarcity. Typical roles would include service businesses, infrastructure finance, project finance, public sector consulting, private equity, retail and consumer products, not-for-profits, and real estate development, among others. There is particular emphasis on financial tools and design practices relating directly or indirectly to the built environment (urban areas, buildings within them, and large systems like energy, ground transportation, and water).
The objective of the course is to help managers to understand the concepts, skills, and strategies that inform competition in this setting. The course focuses on creating business value through approaches which reduce demand and increase resource effectiveness, as distinct from supply based approaches like alternative energy or agricultural efficiency. Since few individual businesses or organizations can directly influence demographic changes or government policy, the emphasis is on equipping business leaders to act in the context of trends and circumstances while using resources which they control.
Course Content and Organization:
Concepts. The central question in this module is: What is to be expected? Cases and topics include the demographics of urbanization, projections with respect to supply and demand in several resource types, day to day impact on business, and the framework of cities and regions considering effectiveness of infrastructure as an element of competitiveness.
Skills. The principal query in this module is: What skills do I need in order to analyze and contribute in this context? Tools include resource efficiency and demand reduction in buildings and transportation, large scale project finance, fundamentals of urban planning, resource efficient building design, site selection, and the private finance of public infrastructure including energy, water, waste, and transportation.
Strategies. The final module considers: How can I create value in this context? Topics include market selection, scenario planning and forecasting with respect to demographic and resource possibilities; public private partnerships; subsidies and incentives; and case examples of companies facing different obstacles.