ECOPOLIS: Specific Aspects of Ecological Development


Ecological development should always proceed from the basis of an ecological analysis of the potential site. Potential land use patterns should be considered from an ecological perspective. Urban development should be fitted into the framework of broader patterns established by ecological imperatives. Land use planning should fit bioregional perceptions.

1. Ecological development potential

Land should be assessed in terms of its ecological development potential (EDP). The more land has been degraded by human activity the greater its need for restoration and the greater its EDP. Wilderness and productive 'green filed' sites have correspondingly low EDP and should not be built on. Degraded farm land where the soil is 'mined out' (as it is in much of South Australia's agricultural region) may have a high EDP where ecological urban development would contribute to an overall improvement in ecological health.

2. Use of existing technologies

Whenever possible ecological development should employ readily available appropriate technologies rather than exotic or unecessarily high energy or high complexity technologies. Thus dwellings with integrated climate control would favour the use of bimetallic strips over computers as a control mechanism for ventilation devices.

3. Integration of buildings with the site

Integration of buildings with the site should occur at the aesthetic level but most importantly at the level of ecological function. Buildings should be completely integrated with landscaping and vegetation to create an environment in functional harmony with the built form. The complete integration of housing with the site is thus reflected in the economics as well as the ecologics of the site. The important relationship of any building must be with the place it inhabits rather than simply the space it occupies. See also 'The Place' in Prince Charles' Ten Principles.

4. Healthy buildings

Healthy buildings are those in which the construction materials, design and building operation are all environmentally benign and non-allergenic.

5. Micro-climate

Every building affects the climate at the very local level. Cities can affect the climate at the regional level. Ecological development requires that the built environment be used intentionally to produce desirable micro-climate changes, creating shelter when the wind blows to hot, too cold or too hard, generating local breezes or warm places to suit the needs of building occupants and so on.

6. Proximity planning

Efficient planning reduces all energy expenditure to a minimum. In transport this is best achieved by reducing traffic to a minimum and this is best achieved by keeping destinations close together wherever possible. Richard Register calls this "proximity planning". Proximity planning favours pedestrian access over all others. Wheeled transport and other means of moving people or goods should be used as a last resort.

7. Traffic calming, vehicle access and parking

When practical considerations require the use of cars, vans, trucks and so forth, then traffic calming measure should be integral to all transportation design and layout. Vehicle access should be limited to necessity - emergency vehicles need ready access to all buildings but there is rarely any justification for private cars to drive right up to the front door. Parking areas should be kept to a minimum and fit around the imperatives of other activities. In all cases parking areas should serve more than one purpose, such as water harvesting.

8. Self build

There should always be a significant self-build component in ecological development for two reasons: one is that there should always be the option to invest 'sweat equity' in lieu of any other currency so that the poor and dispossessed citizens can still contribute to making the city - this principle is of particular relevance to developing countries and periods of recession; two, eco-systems don't stand still and an ecological development has to allow for easy adaptation and change which can be effected by individual citizens from the 'back yard' level upwards.

9. Recycled materials

The appropriate use of recycled materials should be encouraged to reduce waste and unnecessary energy expenditure. Buildings should be constructed in such a way as to be readily recyclable in whole or in part with building components made of material appropriate to their function and to 'life-cycle'.

10. Regional resources

The 'region' is generally taken to be the bioregion (see Ecopolis Development Principle 2). Materials and component manufacture should be derived from, or be located in the local region to the maximum practicable extent. This being done on the basis of a total systems analysis which seeks to reduce energy expenditure and material waste. The pursuit of this goal should strengthen the regional economy by generating activity and shepherding the wealth within the regional boundary.

11. Water supply and the hydrological cycle

The water supply for an ecological development should be drawn entirely from within the watershed of the bioregion and the entire hydrological cycle should be maintained within its pre-human settlement patterns and fitting the boundaries of the bioregion.

12. Energy supplies

All ecological development should seek to be energy self-sufficient. Nevertheless some human activities need large amounts of energy which may need to be provided from more centralised sources such as desert solar power stations. The primary energy base development must come from renewable sources - in the immediate short-term it may be necessary to supplement energy supplies from fossil sources but all energy provision should be made readily convertible to renewable sources - thus natural gas systems convert to biogas or hydrogen. Energy should be used on the basis of calorific efficiency - thus gas is best used for heating and cooking rather than electricity.

13. Wastes

There should be no waste, there is no such thing as waste in nature. All systems of resource, energy and materials use in ecological development should be designed and constructed to have little or no waste products.

14. Revegetation

Revegetation has to be a priority in ecological development (see'Ecological Development Potential' above).

15. Food

Food production should be maximised - see the Urban Ecology `Frogstick'

16. Art and craft

Art and craft should be integral to both the construction and the operation of an ecological development site. Art and craft must be part of the buildings and the physical envirnment, not applied after the event, nor stuck proudly and pretentiously in windswept plazas or inaccessible locations. Art and craft should be part of their lives as much as the air the citizens breath and the water they drink.

17. Industry

Industry must at all times be congruent in purpose, process and product with ecological development goals and the maintenance of the points in the Urban Ecology 'Frogstick'. Weapons related technologies would generally be inadmissable but space technologies may be OK.

18. Education & skills development

The whole process of creating an ecological development and its subsequent operation requires education and skill development.

19. Marketing, management and community liaison

The marketing of ecological developments must be ethical and in tune with the overall goals of such developments. Management should be responsive to community demands and there should be continual community liaison between the promoters, professionals and pratitioners associated with ecological development. All marketing, management and liaison practices must be kept under review to ensure ethical and equitable performance.

20. Community

Community needs must drive ecological development. Ecological development must meet community requirements including the community of life that is the eco-system. The community should govern itself.

21. Finance

Finance for ecological development should be derived from ethical sources, ie. it should seek to exclude financial support derived from exploitative activity. Ideally, all capital input to an ecological development should be local but whereas that has to be a preference rather than a requirement, it should be a requirement of any financial structures associated with ecological development that ownership and control of such development ultimately rests with the users and inhabitants of the development. The community economy can be strengthened with LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems) and similar systems which value local effort and resources.

http://ecopolis.com.au/theory/aspects.html