Monday, February 22, 2010

The SymbioCity concept: Combine and benefit

The SymbioCity concept saves your environment and money at the same time. The secret: Combine your urban systems and benefit from the synergies. Read about the SymbioCity concept, how it has been put into practice in Sweden, and how you can make the journey to implementation short and comfortable with the help of our consultants, contractors and suppliers.

Liveable SymbioCity

Economy, environment and improved well-being? Yes! The SymbioCity approach is centered around our needs as individuals and families. Symbiosis means the integration of two or more organisms in a mutually beneficial union. This also describes the idea of SymbioCity. Looking at the city as a whole, we find benefits through synergies in urban functions – turning waste into energy instead of landfills, for one. In Sweden this is the way we have been saving our natural resources and money for over fifty years. It is our way to a prosperous, secure and comfortable future for all citizens. In our experience the SymbioCity approach is applicable to other countries, no matter the circumstances.

Our Concept

Our Concept The SymbioCity approach

It takes more than one petal to make a flower. SymbioCity promotes holistic and sustainable urban development. We find potential synergies in urban functions and help to unlock their efficiency and profitability.

Combine urban functions - and prosper

The image shows the urban functions that support a working city. There are many ways to make an urban function effective. But focusing on them individually means you miss out on the real treat: the synergies that can be found between them. These synergies can only be found with a holistic approach and do not just improve the environment. They are also truly profitable.    

Turning water into...

Take water – a scarcer resource than ever. Modern cleaning technology can produce drinking water from household wastewater. Along with household biowaste, this wastewater could serve as a resource for biogas production. And there you go: two urban functions (water supply and sanitation), combined with waste management, just gave you the means to run your city bus fleet and keep your farmers stocked with quality fertilizer.

Create your own SymbioCity

SymbioCity offer working models to help you identify the synergies between urban functions and to engage all the necessary players - public and private - who should be involved in the project. We can assist you at every level of making it all come to life. 

Scalable Solutions Applicable almost anywhere in the world

An automatic waste disposal system for an entire city – or a biodegradable plastic bag collected by bicycle. Every subsystem of the SymbioCity-model offers a matrix like this; from cutting edge technology to functional low-tech solutions. SymbioCity is a scalable concept, applicable almost anywhere in the world. The level of engagement is entirely up to you, your needs and your means. Our holistic principle remains the same.

Meeting your needs

The matrix shows waste management examples but is equally practicable to other elements in the SymbioCity concept. Depending on your needs and resources, SymbioCity can help found a new, state-of-the-art, ultramodern, high-tech city district. Or help you create a single system or building that acts as a touchstone, driving interest in sustainable building – step by step. Apply SymbioCity to both new towns and renewal of existing urban districts.

Efficiency is key

On a small scale, composting might be the most efficient solution. On a large scale, the whole waste issue could be fully automated – both in terms of transport and energy sourcing. The most efficient solutions are not always the most high-tech. SymbioCity helps you find your own best combinations.

The Swedish Experience Change is always possible

The world’s population is growing. Fast. By 2050 there will be 9 billion of us, up from 6 billion today. A majority will live in cities. The impact on our environment will be tremendous. Every economy simply must build sustainable urban areas to ensure human well-being today and tomorrow.  

Finding the right way

Cities are and have always been the very centres for cultural life and economic growth. The main challenges are well known: water and food supply, transport systems, waste disposal, threats to fauna and flora and, of course, CO₂ emissions and climate change. Managing these areas of urban growth is crucial to every decision maker – and SymbioCity is all about finding the best and most profitable ways.

Sweden – once a troubled nation

By the 1970s, decades of heavy industrialisation had finally taken their toll on Sweden. Polluted air, dead forests, wastelands and toxic water were everyday news. To cap it all, Sweden was the most oil-dependent country in the industrialised world.

New policies - new ideas

Eventually, the negative events triggered political action and tougher legislation, spurred cooperation between local, regional and national authorities and private industry – and got ordinary citizens involved, too. Suddenly, companies began to turn sustainable ideas into reality, finding new ways to treat water, insulate buildings and develop automatic energy saving systems and alternative fuels. A new insight: these innovations also turned out to be really profitable.   

Oil habit broken

In the past decades these innovations have been put into practice on a wider scale, cutting the amount of oil that Swedes use for heating and electricity by a stunning 90%. When it comes to sulphur emissions Sweden is back at pre-World War I levels.

Economy up - emissions down

And there is more. The new environmental legislation did not seem to clash with the economy. In fact, it was the other way round. Since 1990 CO2 emissions have been reduced by 9% while the economy has been growing at stable speed. Seemingly, the goal of sustainability does not have to hamper economic growth. Maybe it could even drive it. Not to speak of all the social benefits coming from a better environment.

Finding the money

The financing of SymbioCity investment projects follows the same procedures as for any other investments. By applying a holistic, long term planning approach, it is often possible to increase revenues or reduce costs, thereby improving your net income. On this basis, the alternatives are either public financing or seeking capital on the financial markets. 

A large number of organisations have infrastructure finance as their main market offer, e.g. the World Bank, African or Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development just to mention a few. Sometimes, international development aid could also provide an opportunity to finance for example feasibility studies. 

There are a number of Swedish financial institutions that are experts in finding potential financial solutions in the fields of infrastructure, energy and sustainable construction, with experience from all over the world.

SymbioCity Scenarios

SymbioCity Scenarios Practice makes perfect

SymbioCity Scenarios aims to increase the awareness of some of the numerous possibilities local governments have available to steer their cities towards a more sustainable development. Within this area there are many valid and different points of views and small and large scale solutions depending on various conditions and cultures. Swedish expertise offers support and knowledge to help you to create your plan towards a more sustainable city.

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