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A paper presented for
SB07-Taipei International Conference on Sustainable Buildings,Session.III,Nov 10 2007.

The Limit and Merit of Taking Sustainable Buildings as a Catalyst for Eco-Industrial Development in Taiwan

Author:Bruce Kuo-Hui Chung, Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University (Taiwan)

When it comes to discuss urban regeneration, it’s tough to coordinate with industrial lands. The concept of eco-industrial development (EID), which learned from biological symbiosis, has been applied to the regeneration of industrial estates worldwide. However, we can hardly find the best practice, except for the prototype of industrial symbiosis-Kalundborg. Comparing to global cases, Taiwan government initiated a plan, “environmental science technology park (ESTP)”, which takes the idea of EID, green building, and industrial estate into a new model, along with a parallel plan, “circular sustainable urban and rural development plan”. After all, green building policy plays an essential role to the formation of EID. There are limits still to promote EID via green buildings, for symbiosis is the core issue.

KEYWORDS: industrial symbiosis, eco-industrial development, urban regeneration, green building

Urban regeneration supposed to be a crucial issue to integrate with human habitat, natural resource, and industrial development. Taiwan is experiencing not only the time to review residential and commercial land use, but also to rethink how to deal with brownfields and industrial estates from basic unit. The government is promoting urban regeneration, however, it’s tough to coordinate with industrial lands still.

Within the past ten years, industrial ecologists’ idea on EID presented an innovative approach to solve problems of industrial wastes and energy shortage in terms of industrial symbiosis. It basically learned from biological symbiosis, which was applied to the regeneration of industrial estates globally. Getting the hint from food web, industrial ecologists argued proper planning criteria may fit the ideal ecological metaphor. However, we can hardly find the best practice from manmade industrial ecosystem, except for the prototype of industrial symbiosis-Kalundborg in Denmark.

Comparing to global cases, Taiwan’s initiation combined ideas of EID, green building(GB), and industrial estate into a plan, “environmental science technology parks(ESTP)”, along with a parallel plan,“circular sustainable urban and rural development plan”. All administration offices at four demo ESTP sites have the highest level of GB certificates. Following discussions will illustrate why Taiwan took this approach and how GB can do for EID. After all, GB evaluation system is not enough to cover EID’s concern. Symbiosis is the core issue.

Up to now, there are 362 cases of urban regeneration applied by private sectors. On the other hand, The CPAMI asked local governments to select 50 districts with potential for development and higher ownership as the first priority of urban regeneration. Residential and commercial lands play the major candidates for urban regeneration by public sectors. The second is based on the need to redevelop transportation area. Industrial based land use is the most difficult type for initiation of urban regeneration by governments[see Table 1]. Urban regeneration based on industrial land use on is tough to coordinate.

Table 1. Taiwan’s Urban Regeneration Initiatives by Public Sectors

2.1 Critical Anchor for Sustainable Economy and Ecology
In addition to the invention of Export Processing Zone(EPZ) and Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park(HSIP), Taiwan established industrial estates as a growth pole to stimulate local economy. No one can deny existing industrial geography brings a quantitative growth. But it ignores how industrial estates can be as an aggressive role in the realm of sustainable development.

At least, we need to know Taiwan’s industrial land supply system for further discussions. First, it divided into urban and non-urban land. The urban land provides industrial lands for urban development under zoning control; The D-class building land can be designated to industrial use among non-urban lands. The Second system is the major resource for Taiwan’s industrial development, which came from the establishment of industrial parks designated by Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) with incentives of “Statute for Encouragement of Private Investment”(abolished) and “Statute for Upgrading Industries”.

Table 2. Legal Industrial Land Supply System in Taiwan
Overall, designated industrial parks’ share(44.5%) shows its largest influence among total industrial area. Next to it the urban industrial land(29.2%), and next to the scattered D-class building land(26.3%)[see Table 2]. But there are abandoned industrial lands which is sharing 2.9% of all designated industrial parks. These all could be anchor nodes for circular economy’s networking, instead of points for environmental conflicts.

2.2 Major Energy Consumer
Taiwan highly relies on imports to meet 98 percent of its energy needs. On energy consumption structure by sectors from 1986 to 2006, industrial sector dropped from 60% in 1986 to 58% in 2006; agricultural sector decreased from 3% to 1%, residential sector increased from 11% to 12%, and commercial sector increased from 3% to 6% (MOEABOE, 2007). Industrial sector remains the major actor in urban regeneration’s energy structure.

2.2 Major Waste and Recyclable Material Producer
With the urban sprawl, no more clear boundary between urban and rural areas. Continued industrial estates along Taiwan west seashores, serial of city-regions, become the disturbance in urban and rural ecosystem. It also makes industrial ecosystem more complex than ever before(Chung, 2006). Industrial estates produce the largest quantities of waste residues and hazardous material in urban and rural area. They are disturbances of urban and rural ecosystem, as well as the potential producer to create recyclable materials.

3.From Global EID initiatives to Taiwan’s ESTP
The establishment of industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg was a slow, evolutionary process started from a water management project in 1961. This network currently consisted by six key partners (anchor tenants) including Asnæs power station, Statoil refinery, Novo Nordisk biotech and pharmaceutical company, Novozymes company, Gyproc building materials company, Bioteknisk Jordrens SOILREM, and the town of Kalundborg who are all responsible for sustaining the symbiotic relationship. These partners spontaneously developed a series of bilateral exchanges that also include a number of other up stream or downstream companies(Chertow, 2007). Kalundborg has been regarded as the best practice of EID, however, there was no initial planning for the overall by-product exchange network. Since Bill Clinton’s PCSD announced EID as a national-wide action in 1995, industrial symbiosis was tremendously promoted in Europe, America, and asia countries[see figure 1].

Figure 1. Major Global EID Initiatives

By contrast, Taiwan’s alternative approach to EID represents the context of negative externality of science parks’ environmental development. EPA initiated with ideas of eco-industrial park, GB, and industrial estate into a plan-“environmental science technology parks(ESTP)”, along with a parallel plan ,“circular sustainable urban and rural development plan” since 2002(Chung, 2005). But ESTP bascially is just a special industrial zone for environmental industries.

GB labeling system comprises nine indicators that fall into four categories – ecology,
energy saving, waste reduction and health-namely “EEWH”, which was launched in 1999. Since 2003, nine indicators of GB evaluation system in Taiwan have been foliage, water soil content, energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction, construction waste reduction, water conservation, garbage and sewage improvements, biodiversity, and indoor environmental quality (Lin, 2003).

Now all official administration buildings in four demo ESTP sites have been asked to meet the highest criteria of GB Labeling system, GB seems to be a legitimacy of green image/the representation of spatial form. Here proposes sustainable building(SB) is based on ideas of GB with more concerns on non-material / social / institutional issues responsible for the sustainable environment. There are advantages for SB to promote EID shown as follows:
-Ownership/ Most buildings have simpler ownership structure than that of industrial estates. This makes SB easier to be the target of reform.
-Scale/ To initiate regulation and law for SB is easier than that of EID. To make the best use of SB’s criteria on the aggregation of firms is a shortcut and start point to EID.
-For lacks of effective legal tools to regulate performance of industrial estates, GB evaluation system can be a part of EID criteria.
-SB can initiates a green supply chain for EID.
-SB can be a node or hub in the eco-industrial networks.
-Strong support by the government: Comparing to global GB policies, the Taiwan government provides sticks and carrots into the building code, urban design review, and the other regulations.
-Learnt from symbiosis, SB can develop the relationship between built environment and natural ecosystem through exchange and interaction in material and non-material world.
-SB can be a key role in basic industrial ecology. For example, SB can support ground water system towards a circular and matured landscape ecology.

Industrial ecologists assume EID evolved from three major functions that learning from ecosystem including material flow, energy flow, and information flow. These all together consist of an industrial ecosystem in human’s society. Core issues should be initiated with circular material/non-material communities. Although two indicators, biodiversity and indoor environmental quality were added into evaluation system in 2003, it is still limited in a small scale. Thus, it needs an atmosphere of symbiosis via multiple interactions within natural resource, water, energy, and feedback of information / knowledge under certain institutional environment, namely the milieu of symbiosis or sustainable development. The GB labeling system, nevertheless, lacks broader system scale to cross boundary for circulations of material, energy, and information. It narrowly focus in material aspects[see Table 3]. In sum, there are limits still to promote EID in terms of utilizing SB:

-Committee of environmental impact assessment or the other groups in Taiwan tend to believe in GB can be the best guidance to regulate inside and outside of a plant’s environmental performance. This will misleading the scale issue. For example, four major administration building of ESTP demo sites, and the Yilan-ChenNan base of HSIP.
-GB labeling system cannot fully support EID’s core issue, industrial symbiosis.
-Infrastructure/ indicator of GB such as soil water content cannot meet the more complicated structure of manudacturing environment.
-Lack of incentives to create optimized energy effiency on collectve community.
-Current GB labeling system focus on material based approach, lack of non-material approach towards EID, which is the crucial aspect for implementation.
-Challenge to compete with traditional real estate market
-Lack of social cognition that GB/SB is worthy for implementation under social institutional barriers.
-Act of Urban Renewal cannot support SB’s niches for stakeholders in urban regeneration businesses or ESTP.

Table 3. Relationship of EEWH Evaluation System and Industrial Symbiosis

The operation of a matured ecosysem highly relies on the feeback loop. Through mainstrem tools of material flow analysis(MFA), industrial ecologists cannot perfectly describe how Kalundborg runs its industrial ecosystem. In a word, Empirical studies on Kalundborg reflects a mysterious and tacit information flow under certain accumulation of social capital. Mutual gains from symbiosis are hard to measure and evaluate by indicators or material based evaluation. Most places just want to duplicate the by-product exchange model in Kalundborg instead of learning how to enhance the social and cultural habitat by any means. Some key issues for taking SD into EID are list as below:

6.1Taking Industrial Estates into the Business of Urban Regenerations
Although there are gaps to coordinate with Taiwan’s industrial lands for urban regeneration which could be concluded into three structural barriers: First, the ownership; Second, complexity of managing bodies for industrial land supply system; Third, the land price is deviated from the market, as well as the construction appraisal designated by the act of urban renewal.
-Lack of the knowing of urban renewal within public and private sectors including stakeholders like consulting firms and communities, in words, whole society need to enhance the common sense on urban renewal and SB.

6.2Institutional independency of spatial planning
The concept of zoning came from a core ideology of exclusionary allocation of lands. Limited by the path dependence, it does hard to turn this approach into a new paradigm of material flow-based approach. Moreover, the idea of EID has certain degree of limit from ideology of biomimicry. And one of the challenges is to negotiate with capitalists, manufacturing companies, and those who you are not setting used to

6.3Review the lesson from ecosystem
Learning from the metaphor of natural ecosystem’s effective fuctions is crucial.For we are all living in a complex system. Becoming more like redwood than a ragweed [ref. to Table 4]. A SB based EID might be possible. But there is a lack of cross-boundary thinking and action exosted in system of bureaucracy. From the treasure of Kalundborg and Danish experiences on corporate social responsibility mostly came from the tradition of being volunteers and socio-cultural context(Chung, 2005b). There is a debate on too many discussions on Kalundborg instead of the other manmade industrial system. However, we would rather correct the way to learn Kalundborg through non-material approach than copy material flow model only.
-A physical platform for sorting, collecting the by-products from different plants is needed. SB can play a role within it.
-One of EID’s need on product like green constrction materials can be driven through SB’s more complete supply chains such as public green procurement and ecological engineering.
-on information flow, SB can be a hub/node for information exchange embedded in a physical body. For example, cases in Thailand and Hilifax, Canada.

6.4Integration of GB Management and Urban Planning Tool
There are two major practical management system on current urban land control. One is zoning system with strict control and clear deinition of regulations; the other is the permission system, mainly applied in large scale or those builings located in environmental sensitive area. One of the well known EID projects in Minneapolis, with honor of AIA Award by E4 Partners, is a good example to illustrate what a SB can do in the process of making EID comes true. Strategy like taking SB as a species to human living and production ecosystem is works. Therefore, to take concept of GB, EEWH, into the mechanism of urban land use control also could be works in Taiwan. For example, advanced environment friendly technique like district heating center(DHC) performance well in northern countries, How about Taiwan? GB policy can only fit small scale bases. B
ut indicators of foliage and water soil content could be applied to urban related sub-indicators and stategies..

TABLE 4. Potential of SB and EID to learn from Ecological Succession
Ecosystem AttributesDeveloping Stages

6.5Milieu of Sustainable Development
In Kalundborg, each party views a contract as economically attractive, opportunities not within a company’s core business, no matter how environmentally attractive, will not be pursued, and each company evaluates their own deals independently–there is no system-wide evaluation of performance(Lowe, 1997; Chertow, 2000). “What is the genius in industrial symbiosis? Noting, just common sense!”, Jogen Christensen the former vice-president of Novo Nordosk Company expressed his final remark after retired from key anchor tenant of Kalundborg.

Terms like sustainable or environmental technology have taken over “industrial parks(estates)” into a fashion title, “environmental technology park” or “high-tech park”. Even the title of EID could become the legitimacy in the process of restructuring brownfields into greenfields. Sustainability often requires organizational change and an evolution in our thinking. Rodríguez-Carmona(2004) argued organizational learning and social capital as key factors for the impact of development projects. Now GB plays a crtical role to turn traditional cognition of real estate towards sustainable development. GB in a sense provides a new fashion identity. It shows a way to reorganize local knowledge and review the nature of cultural assets in terms of increasing milieu of symbiosis.

Taiwan GB policy plays a vital role to stimulate people’s knowing to face the core of sustainability. Anyway, with a perspective of sustainable industrial parks, SB can bring a new idea to GB on more interaction between multiple species and habitats of urban industrial landscape. Though it’s not enough to meet complete functions of industrial ecosystem, and there are structural barriers of financial and land ownership on industrial estates still, we can start from basic concept like Koenig(2007) argued basic ideas still remain: (1)Use common sense and innovation; (2)Technology is never the problem;(3)look for the low-hanging fruits: synergies can be implemented by simple change of procedure & management. For SB tends to indiviual’s cultural taste and cognition on the environment. There is no enough merit fot GB to interacted with outer actors especially the mass production based indsutrial ecosystem. Learning from EID’s concept of symbiosis with broader view and concern, SB could be suitable for a catalyst for embedded local and regioanl environment. EID represents a revolutionary exam on industrial lands in urban and rural area. SB can be the keystone (species) to support this complex ecosystem. Concept of symbiosis meets the proposition and metaphor for sustainability, however, it remains a lot for us to review the nature of our living and production world.

Thanks for Taiwan Environmental Information Association( and Ministry of Foreign Affairs supported a part of my second field work to Kalundborg, Copenhagen in 2005. This gives more findings and inspiration for empirical study on industrial symbiosis.

[1]Benyus, Janine M. (1997) Biomimicry, New York: Quill, pp.252-253
[2]Chertow, M. R. (2000) Industrial symbiosis: Literature and taxonomy, Annual Review of Energy & Environment, 25(1): 313-337
[3]Chertow, M. R. (2007) Case Sudy of Kalundborg, Denmark, Environmental Information Coalition and the National Council for Science and the Environment, June 14, 2007
[4]Chung, Kuo-Hui (2006) Perspective of Industrial Ecology on Material and Non-material Approaches for Sustainable City and Country Development, Proceeding of The Symposium on Structure Plan of Rural Landscape Development in Taiwan, Taipei: COA, Nov.11 , 2006 (Chinese)
[5]Chung, Kuo-Hui(Bruce) (2005a) Tawan Eco-Industrial Policy Review, The 11th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Helsinki, Finland, June 6-8, 2005
[6]Chung, Kuo-Hui(Bruce) (2005b) Private interview with Professor Peter Neergaard, Department of Operations Management, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, June 10 2005
[7]Koenig, Andrews (2007) Principles of Eco-Industrial Development Strategic Approaches and Best Practice for Sustainable Industrial Development, Present for ESTP Training Program, ITRI, ESTP-Taoyuan, Taiwan, April 19, 2007,
[8]Lin, Sian-De (2003) An Evaluation Manual for Green Buildings in Taiwan, The Architecture and Building Research Institute (ABRI), page.9(Chinese)
[9]Rodríguez-Carmona, Antonio (2004) Development NGOs, local learning, and social capital: the experience of CARE Bolivia in Villa Serrano, Development in Practice, 14(3): 354-365

By Bruce K. Chung

Bruce K. Chung - A pioneer industrial ecologist with multi-professions including green building design and city planning, heritage conservation and re-design. You can visit Bruce's on-line CV via the link below >>>