Eco-Industrial Parks and Steam Loop-powered Districts Can Change City Designs

December 1, 2012

New ideas and old technologies both equally interest me. I am encouraged by the merging of the two and what developments they may create. As a student I do not always have time to research every new idea I hear about that sounds interesting, I normally jot them down in whatever notebook or textbook I happen to have in front of me and try to dive deeper into its meaning later when it may be implemented into a different project.

The most recent topics of interest that have caught my attention are the themes of eco-industrial developments and steam loop districts.

Eco-Industrial parks are industrial sites in which the businesses cooperate with each other and with the community in an attempt to reduce waste and pollution, efficiently share resources and help achieve a more sustainable place with the intention of increasing economic gains and improving the environment.

It is a development of a waste-to-feed community, where one’s pollution becomes the source of another’s creation. It is a micro ecosystem that functions only in cycle with all parts being crucial to its ability to continue being productive.

One example is the Chicago Clean Energy project where an alternative energy plant is proposed to be developed in a brownfield at Chicago-Calumet. Its main goals are to:

  • Transforming Illinois Resources into Substitute Natural Gas
  • Creating Secure Manufacturing and Mining Jobs for Illinois Workers
  • Championing Energy Independence and Environmental Stewardship

It is being developed by Eco-Industrial Development, LLC with the thought to change pre-developed sites that have gone to ruin (brownfields) into something useful to the community and to the environment.

Eco-Industrial Park Concept

Steam loop districts are also based on the industrial sites of cities. District heating is the distribution of heat from a local central location to meet the needs of customers within a municipality which uses a steam generation facility that provides steam heat to all members of the loop of a community which eliminates the need for on-site boiler systems and maintenance personnel. District heating operates at higher efficiencies and with better pollution control than traditional boilers or coal-burning facilities

An example is The Loop within downtown Rochester, which is being designed by RDH which is allowing them to promote a cleaner Rochester while keeping service costs down for all members.

The first crude steam engine was produced by Thomas Savery in 1698. How is it that just now our society is introducing and toying with the development of steam-powered districts?

These two concepts of eco-industrial parks and steam loop-powered districts are just a couple of the innovative, sustainable ideas that are being casually discussed in classes so that perhaps the seeds of the re-development of urban areas can be planted and the future will be different. Cities can redefine their production process by benefiting the community and not lose any of their profit in non-functioning implementation of untried technologies.

Resources: Eco Industrial Site, EcoIndustrial and RDHC



Jennifer Shockley

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.