MSc Sustainable Community Design
Heriot Watt University/ Findhorn Foundation College
Q. Discuss the mechanisms for developing a circular metabolism in an urban environment and how these feed into the development of a sustainable community.
The majority of cities today display a linear metabolism: a one way flow with resources and food coming in and waste products being pumped out. Food is brought into cities, eaten and then sewage is discharged into rivers, coastal waters or is burned in incinerators. Inputs and outputs are unconnected; the system is disjointed. To become sustainable, cities need to evolve a circular metabolism where waste is used as a resource rather than discarded as a nuisance [Girardet, 2002, p32]. Developing circular metabolisms has many far reaching advantages, including creating employment at local levels and improving the recycling abilities and energy efficiency of large urban settlements. This will provide the basis of sustainable communities by creating a sense of alliance and unity on a local scale. This would enable a greater choice in employment opportunities at a local level: moving employment away from the global transportation of goods to local employment in recycling, manufacturing and farming. Other benefits include creating communities that are more resilient; communities would not rely on one large factory or other industry to support the local economy. Creating multiple smaller factories and diverse industries within an area would allow greater economic stability by removing reliance on one source to sustain a community. Economic diversity and the quality of life for residents are inextricably linked. The purpose of this essay is to explore the relationships between the metabolisms of urban settlements and influencing factors that can help develop a sustainable ...
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