The Urban Metabolic Challenge

The linear "Take - Make - Dispose" lifestyle of our cities increasingly depletes finite reserves while dumping wastes around the cities destroying the environment

A new mode of urban metabolism is needed that reduces resource consumption and waste production simultaneously. A cyclical structure which is able to transform waste into resources in a sustainable way can accomplish both. It is the resulting reduction of necessary inputs and elimination of wasteful outputs that we call "closing the loop".

Closing the loop

From Linear to Circular

Today natural resources are brought into cities, processed, consumed, and the waste products disposed outside of urban centers, and with increasing environmental impacts. This linear production path of inputs and outputs will not be sustainable as cities continue to grow. Escalating quantities of resources will be needed to feed the growing population, while the wastes will be transported over ever increasing distances as city limits expand.

URBANIZATION - A Huge Success with Problems

The unrivaled explosive growth of urban population requires paradigm change how we use our resources and how to bring into conformity our cities with Nature.

In under four generations our life expectancy doubled and our standard of living increased ten-fold while global population quadrupled. This was enabled by rapid urbanization that increased urban population from 220M to 3.5B.

But this new urban life style creates its own set of increasing challenges. Cities are currently unsustainably resource-hungry while the generated waste is causing ever-increasing impacts on nature itself.

This flow-through, or linear phenomenon of resource inputs, processing, and associated waste generation requires a radical change in what we refer to as urban metabolism. As cities continuously expand, escalating quantities of resources will be needed to feed the growing population, while places for both disposing waste, and for generating resources will shrink. At the same time, the necessary distances for importing raw goods and disposing of waste products will increase as city limits expand outward, and into other urban centers, further aggravating the problem.

A new mode of urban metabolism is needed that reduces resource consumption and waste production simultaneously. A cyclical structure which is able to transform waste into resources in a sustainable way can accomplish both. It is the resulting reduction of necessary inputs and elimination of wasteful outputs that we call "closing the loop".

GLOBAL WARMING - From Fossil to Bio-based Economy

To avoid catastrophic overheating of Earth, we have no choice but to shift from fossil to renewable and reusable bio-based production resources.

Oil is not only used for energy production, approximately 20% of consumption comprises the source for industrial products such as plastics. This process is releasing long-stored carbon from below the Earth,s crust into the atmosphere which accelerates the climate dilemma and bring us closer to the limits of our resources. These processes can be reversed by using renewable biomass and the byproducts of natural metabolic processes for industrial production of the same useful materials we extract from oil, or other fossil carbon sources.

WATER CRISES - The Urge for Smart Water Reuse

Water scarcity and declining quality have become the No. 1 global security issue, water being the key driver in the water, food and energy nexus.

Urban life, and the energy-, industrial and food production that go with it are all dependent on water of adequate qualities and quantities. As cities grow, they put increasing stress on water supplies while vast quantities of disposed water further impact existing sources. A sustainable economy requires a distributed urban water reuse infrastructure that limits the distances we must move water for various uses. This distributed infrastructure makes water reuse possible thus reducing both fresh water and energy consumption.