Our highlight this week: Zhi Cao

Sustainable Urban Systems


 Zhi Cao is an Assistant Professor at the University of Antwerp. His research interests mainly revolve around examining the sustainability of urban systems (e.g., urban infrastructure, built environment, and waste recovery and recycling) through a lens of socioeconomic metabolism. His doctoral and postdoctoral training has been focused on the role of material stocks in shaping resource use patterns and the efficacy of circular economy strategies in fostering sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure. He is a mathematical model enthusiast with years of training in industrial ecology tools and beyond.


Zhi’s main research/work interest areas:

  • Sustainable infrastructure and built environment
  • Spatially-refined material flow analysis
  • Circular economy and waste management
  • Data-driven analytics for urban sustainability and climate resilience

Zhi’s favorite cities and why:

Beijing - mainly because I lived there for six years.

Odense - I enjoyed the city’s walkability and bikability, and it’s H.C. Andersen’s hometown.

Chicago metropolitan area – I am amazed by Chicago’s culturally diverse neighborhoods

Zhi’s collaboration interests:

Zhi is an engineer by training, but he is now working at the intersection of industrial ecology and sustainable infrastructure & built environment. He is building his research group at the Department of Energy and Materials in Infrastructure and Buildings (EMIB), University of Antwerp, Belgium. He looks forward to working with engineers and industrial ecologists who are interested in developing new analytical tools for SUS.