Tuesday 19 February 2013

Know the territory’s metabolism so as to optimise local potential

The ecological footprint indicates that we would need three planets to satisfy our resource needs. The biosphere cannot absorb our emissions. It is impossible! International conferences regularly come to this conclusion, leading (or not) to the development of policies.

This situation will not improve as long as we keep considering a macroeconomic “financial accounting” system. A “cost accounting system” is needed at territorial level to understand how territories mobilise and transform the biosphere’s resources and how they use and transform energy, water and materials. It is also necessary to know what flows are crossing the territories and what is recycled.

We have started counting water and waste, followed by energy, emissions and discharges at territorial level. But we are still too often unaware of the local or imported resources we use. We do not know what is circulated, lost, exchanged or transformed in our territories. That is what is called the “metabolism” of territories.

Know the territory’s metabolism so as to optimise local potential and reduce the impact of human activities on the ecosystem.

The objective is to implement adequate information and communication systems for locating and quantifying flows crossing the territory. This will help reveal systemic optimisation potentials between water, energy and material flows. Synergies between them will enrich the territory and will reduce resource predation as well as the impact on the biosphere.

Sutton cultivates its territorial metabolism

London Borough of Sutton, United Kingdom - 194,000 inhabitants

By adopting the “One Planet Living” approach, the London Borough of Sutton intends to optimise all material, energy and transport flows on its territory so as to reduce its ecological footprint from 3 to 1 planet. The concept of sustainable territorial metabolism was first implemented in the Bedzed eco-district where 98% of construction materials came from sites within a 30 km radius. “One Planet Sutton” aims at extending the concept to the entire borough in order to analyse and experiment production and recycling flows and cycles in a more extensive, integrated way.

As a result, a new network of urban farms has been created to provide local quality food whilst developing local skills and creating new jobs.

Discover more than 80 concrete examples and Energy Cities’ 30 proposals for the energy transition of cities and towns on

by Floriane Cappelletti on 19 February 2013 / 522 visits

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