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    Bob Scheulen

    For most cites, water, food, raw materials and energy come from elsewhere, and waste material are often exported. Some of these things can be done locally– PV on buildings etc, water collection off roof tops, and we can grow food locally, but density makes this harder, so how do we make the tradeoffs?

    Helen Harrison

    Great question Bob! Another question to add is how do we evaluate the tradeoffs…or maybe that’s what you are really asking.

    Bob Scheulen

    I think there are really only two impacts that change, assuming that a city (or region) consumes a fixed amount of food/water/material/etc. One is the amount of land impacted, ie if you could collect water within the region limits, then the land impact is reduced. The other is energy–mostly because it takes energy to move things, but then some things might be able to be created with less energy externally, ie if we collect water with city limits, we may need to use more energy to clean it, so the comparison would have to trade off that versus whatever the transport energy was (in the case of Seattle, essentially zero because its gravity fed, but for many cities its not). The question for food and raw materials gets more complex as well as for complex manufactured goods.

    My underlying question had to do more with density–that is at what point does density stop lowering a cities overall footprint because it starts displacing other activities? is farming within city limits really a good idea, or is it actually better to externalize it?

    I think we really don’t know the answers.

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