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4 – Best practices

4.1  Micro compost networks with zero waste

Rubbish has become an enormous problem. The local population often refuses the incinerators. NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) is the most common position related to the positioning of big processing plants. It is not an egoistic behaviour. It is the symptom of a disseminated conscience on environmental danger and the harmful characteristics of these massive structures.

The solution is to build small processing plants. Substantially everyone processes his or her own waste at neighbourhood or even at single house level. Today it is possible to make micro composters that, with no harmful emissions or bad odours, transform waste into soil fertilizers. Maintenance work can be done individually or, at neighbourhood level, by specialized cooperatives and associations. New jobs are therefore created and a perfect potting compost is produced to be used in gardens and terraces. The same operation can be carried out with the black water, that becomes totally recyclable at local network level. Miniature reactors can also be created to transform biomass into gas. Technically it is possible to realize small devices that can be used to stoke the kitchen. Today many products leave waste, are burned or abandoned, but with this method families can substantially reduce costs and new job opportunities are also created.

If the proposed activities are considered as a unique system, apparently worthless spin-off products turn out to be forms of input and add value by creating new job opportunities and cancelling negative effects on the population and the environment. Each time waste is produced this is then reintroduced in the productive cycle. This feedback system enables the research of a better linking system between complementary activities. If each output is used as an input for other processes or sectors, the environmental sector achieves the goal of zero emissions and of total productivity of materials. The zero emissions concept can be compared with the total quality concept, which is today fundamental for the prosperity of any company or activity. The zero emissions concept is the way in which nature works reusing everything in cycles, nothing is wasted and the optimisation of resources is gained.

4.2  Garden roofs  

Terracing, hanging gardens and garden roofs have represented one of the first oil and water conservation forms of construction. They were used to prevent erosion, increase the amount of land for cultivating plants and in the case of garden roofs to conditioning buildings. Today terracing is still used in hilly and mountain environments, but hanging and roof gardens have practically disappeared. Installing garden roofs on buildings is an important means to protect the roof insulation from thermal and mechanical stress and to make the entire roof structure more durable reducing risk of damage.

The considerable insulation power of hanging gardens enables relevant energy saving inside the apartments. On the garden roofs rainwater is collected and after it has been used by the plants it is recycled for sanitary use. Moreover the new environment constituted by the pleasant hanging gardens enriches the house, private or common property.

In Tokyo 579 skyscrapers collect water on their roofs for non-potable use and garden roofs are now obligatory in new buildings. In Boston and Phoenix in the United States of America it is now clear that instead of purifying the outlets it is more convenient to let nature carry out this task so there is a considerable investment in land: fields and marshlands are considered biological filtering systems. In 11 American towns undifferentiated rubbish is subject to taxation while separated waste is collected for free. In New York garden roofs are often set on top of skyscrapers. In Copenhagen 45 buildings recycle water and are equipped with compost devices. In Kimberly, South Africa, there is a solar neighbourhood where 200 families have created a self-sufficient community. In many northern Europe towns autonomous neighbourhoods from the point of view of energy and recycling are quite common, like Freeburg and Ganserndorf.


4.3 Water harvesting  

It is necessary to create dual systems in houses. That is, to separate the network of potable water supply, substantially dedicated to kitchen use, from the water for sanitary, shower and WC use. Today the public distribution network provides high quality spring and groundwater, but very little of it is drunken, wasting an extremely important resource. Each individual consumes about 50 litres of water to wash, 6 litres to cook and drink, 7 litres to wash the dishes, 7 litres to do house cleaning, 32 litres to do the washing, 36 litres for the WC.

Using rain water for hygienic-sanitary use at least 36 litres per person a day can be saved, which means in an average family the total amount of 144 litres a day.

In Italy rain water collecting systems can satisfy the water requirements for domestic non-potable use.

Supposing a per capita ration of 50 litres per inhabitant a day, storage of rain-water in cisterns assures supplies in winter and autumn but also in the middle of summer. Therefore the requirements for non-potable water are fully satisfied and there is a considerable saving of water resource that is normally distributed by the public distribution network.


4.4 Three-dimensional urban planning

The new climate and environmental emergencies make conceiving towns as part of a system with the surrounding environment and territory a necessity as well as developing new action plans based on the conception of towns as urban ecosystems.

From the city that absorbs resources from its surroundings it is necessary to pass to a balanced system that does not compromise the stock of resources, if not amplify them. The urban horizontal control practices management of the settlement phenomenon directed towards a physical distribution of the town on a territory, should keep into consideration also the vertical dimension: upwards towards the atmosphere, downwards towards the underground.

 This new three-dimensional view of urban planning enables confronting the changes enacted stimulating by auto-poyesis and sustainability programmes for urban systems. An urban adaptation management based on an evaluation of the ecosystem will favour innovative actions in using soil, water and energy; promoting integrated production, consumption and recycling cycles; the development of traditional and innovative production, water collection and distribution systems; the ecological and environmental harmonization of inhabited areas stressed by urban or industrial desertification processes and climate collapse


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