The Efficiency of Settlement Structures

  • Clemens Deilmann


The anthropogenic stock of nations accumulates from year to year materials (metals, plastics, glass, concrete, stones, etc.) for all sorts of durable goods. Some materials might be recycled and used as secondary raw material for new products. But the input into the anthropogenic stock is even in “old” developed economies with ambitious recycling targets five times larger than the output. The anthropogenic stock of Germany grows by 550 million tons per year. The building activities are responsible for almost 85% of a nation’s material flow of all durable goods with life expectancy longer than 1 year. In view of the projected urbanization until 2050—a doubling of urban population according to UN estimate from 3 to 6 billion people—the material input into the built environment is a key issue with regard to our material resource use in the future. After a brief explication of terms, the paper introduces the method of Material Flow Analysis of Urban Form. It stipulates, that only a bottom-up approach, which analyses and models the different patterns of land development along with building types, can deliver the information necessary for a more resource efficient way of urban development. The settlement structure can vary considerably in terms of material input per service unit and the urban structure predetermines for a long time span, how expensive maintenance of surfaces of built assets, interaction, transport, social, and technical infrastructure will be. Two examples of research findings generated by the approach are presented (infrastructure efficiency and costs; recycling potentials along different paths of building activity in Germany).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional DevelopmentDresdenGermany

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