Local Action - Global Solution, a Strategy for a Sustainable City
The aim of this article is to propose an 'organic strategy' to provide a system that delivers both efficient use of resources at the local level and effective economic distribution of available resources at the city-wide level. This strategy must allow development and growth to mirror the 'chaotic' natural development of a city without imposing artificial constraints to that growth. In traditional energy management systems the inflexibility of the technology has precluded rapid and inexpensive expansion of the system to meet changing needs. With the advent of new technologies it is now possible to implement systems that will respond in an organic way to the needs of the users.
The key to this strategy is information. Without information it will not be possible to apply realistic controls or to ensure that people are aware of the impact of their actions. Ensuring efficient use of resources at the personal level will involve the forming of a gestalt of the conscious 'demand' decisions and 'embedded subliminal' control by 'intelligent' appliances using information about availability of resources provided by the utilities.
Being aware of the environmental impact of our actions should foster a responsible approach to environmental issues leading to a society empowered through the delivery of timely information to make a positive impact on the environmental well-being of their city.
A city has many 'local events' operating at the personal demand level which impact each other in an unpredictable way. Currently these operate without any 'knowledge' of the impact on other local events or of the impact on utilities. In an environment of dense population where the supply and extraction processes are limited it is necessary to ensure that each of the utilities' systems are not overloaded and therefore wasteful of energy. There will be peaks in supply of water and waste removal as well as peak demands in electricity. Multiplied up these local events have a huge impact on the city, not only in demands but also in the environmental impact they have.
The city that uses linear processes has an environmental impact over a wide area of the planet: Water resources are wasted and polluted, toxic fumes pollute the air and sewage is discarded and pollutes. In a city that has circular processes the impact is felt over a small area because its needs are met by itself and by its own immediate environment. Likewise information flow should also be circular as only this way it will be possible to control or understand events in a 'circular metabolism' where each level of the city is adjusting to it's self like a constant servo loop. Where control is imposed from the top it will not be possible to respond in any dynamic way to the changes in society, only in an 'organic' system where each user has an impact on the whole and information and goals flow throughout the system will user demand be able to dynamically change the systems overall goals.
Top Down verses Bottom Up
The Working Environment