Natural Approach to Circularity in Creation of Cities

Natural Approach to Circularity in Creation of Cities

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1886-1.ch001


This chapter shows an economic canvas introduction in part that has direct influence on the architects' and urban planning approach. It is followed by a brief explanation to the historic approach to city making, as in the past most of the urbanised areas were circular and the re-use of existing building materials was a standard issue. With the age of industrialisation and introduction of modern techniques and technologies, this attitude has changed, and the linear economic development only quickened the speed with which former solutions were forgotten. General studies showing various past approaches to urban circularity will be presented. Special attention will be paid to the sustainable city as a dynamically changing development process.
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It should be noted that the scope of knowledge of which an Architect and Urban Planner should at least be aware of, is an amalgamate of various different sciences and skills. This knowledge is born out of theory and practice and is still true since the Vitruvian times (Vitruvius, 1999). Hence, with present changes covering various development issues including building industries and changing approach as to how human surroundings should be created, designers also should insert this new approach within their professional curricula. One of the early general awareness issues has appeared during the early phase of the 21st Century, and was initiated by the global economic development in many ways dependent on the growing level of energy consumption. Secondary negative effects may be seen in the Earth’s atmosphere and soil pollution, extreme weather phenomenon, loss of the biodiversity, and many cases of social unrests due to reduced access to many primary goods. These changes are a challenge to the contemporary society. Unfortunately, high price of oil and gas, and unstable climatic conditions form only the visible part of a floating iceberg. Due to the rapid growth of developing countries, access to resources will be more difficult and moreover, in many cases, a lower standard of the existing natural capital (water, soil and air) will prevail. Growth of human expectations will meet a natural barrier formed by a lower accessibility to goods.

In 20th Century, early seventies introduced various technologies aiming to limit or eliminate the level of pollution emitted as a by-product during manufacturing processes. Unfortunately, such approach did not influence sourcing procedures. This phase, known also as the end-of-pipe approach, was followed by the introduction of a cleaner production system based on the introduction of technical and organization solutions allowing for a lower emissions of pollutants during manufacturing processes used together with more efficient management procedures such as: ISO 14001 or EMAS and LCA analyses. According to the main Rio Conference outcomes (1990), this particular decade was dedicated towards formulating a base for a stable and environmentally sustainable society as an alternative for a society concentrated only on growth and expansion. During the 2003 meeting in Tokyo (Kaizosha, 2003), scientists from The United Nations University described a “zero emission concept”. It is assumed that this concept is the next step towards “integration of sustainable development within industrial processes” including controlling and reduction of toxic emissions and waste. These theses also have a direct connection with the sustainable environmental cycles. The main aim being total utilization of mined resources, including implementation of effective and balanced use of renewable raw materials still located in the natural environment. Waste from production processes will undergo re-use as a resource input in various new production processes. Even, if total re-use is not realistic, the phrase “zero emission level” should be discussed as a set of integrated efficient solutions used during consecutive upgrades of the cycle process. A variety of systematic approaches dealing with effective use of existing resources is already in place. These approaches include the need to preserve natural resources and mitigate the civilizations’ negative influences when using the ecosystems as waste sinks. Most of them are known under a common umbrella heading of a sustainable development, later expanded into resiliency (EEA (2012c). Analytic models indicate also that with the implementation of circularity, it will be possible to double the efficient use of existing resources without lowering contemporary standard of life.

This interactive management can be followed on a diagram (Figure 1). Where each subsystem economy (i.e. building), deals with two areas concerning efficiency and eco-efficiency choices. These two areas depend on the input of fossil raw materials which after initial reuse circle back through materials and energy recycling processes to become renewable resources and be re-used within construction industry. We are used to sustainable development issues, but new changes are required to achieve this new goal. In some countries, including United States of America, the newest terminology is „industrial ecology” scoping industrial production processes created according with eco-cycles.

Figure 1.

Circular Economy Management

Source: (EllenMcArthur, 2016)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Carbon Footprint: Total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent – first defined in the -90-ties. Nearly 30 years later they still cannot be exactly calculated because of inadequate knowledge of and data about the complex interactions between possible contributing processes.

Shadow Value of Natural Resource: An example of a commodity requiring shadow pricing might be the value of a view from a window indispensable to the social well-being of a community when calculating the cost of a construction project which is going to block this view. By assigning a numerical financial value to the site, economic analysts can evaluate its value to a community with regard to the costs of new construction.

Entropy: A measure of the energy dispersal in the system (the higher the entropy, the higher the disorder).

GHG (Green House Emissions): A mixture of gases which absorb and emit radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. GHG cause the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone are the main ones belonging to this category.

Great Depression: A worldwide economic depression that took place during the 1930s, starting from the United States.

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