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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Industrial ecology and the capacity for implementing eco-industrial parks in Richmond, British Columbia Henney, Karly Danielle

Abstract

Humans are at a critical juncture in terms of how to evolve to deal with increasingly urgent global ecological and social trends. Questions of ecological sustainability are inextricably linked to patterns of human production and consumption. The current economic system operates without regard for unbending ecological laws. Industrial Ecology is an alternative theory for planning, designing and managing production and consumption activities to operate within biophysical limits by applying ecological principles to industrial operations. This thesis explores implementing Industrial Ecology with eco-industrial parks - sites with a redundant and diverse set of businesses co-located to operate as ecologically compatible and economically viable systems. Projects underway are using different concepts, strategies and organizational forms, but all seek to apply Industrial Ecology principles. My literature review discusses the benefits, challenges and risks associated with eco-industrial parks and summarizes key design elements from existing cases. The City of Richmond is used to analyze the capacity of a municipality and its policy and regulatory framework for eco-industrial parks based on key design elements. Structured interviews informed the evaluation of capacity. I found Richmond's Official Community Plan, Industrial Strategy and zoning bylaw conceptually support and would not prevent eco-industrial park development; however, policy lacks economy-environment linkages and does not further Industrial Ecology. Regulatory barriers to implementation of physical design features of eco-industrial parks involve zoning, land use patterns, permitting, ownership and water concerns, but the barriers are flexible in terms of presenting obstacles rather than being prohibitive. Municipal capacity gaps exist for non-physical design features relating to information systems and organization and management. I make recommendations for Richmond to increase eco-industrial development capacity based on Industrial Ecology theory, other eco-industrial park cases and a personal interpretation of what is required for sustainable development. Richmond has significant potential to become a leader in industrial innovation at the level of local systems to which horizontal and vertical links can be established for achieving long-term sustainability.

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