Efficient Resource Planning

Resource planning is one of the main tasks of design. Site elements and forces may be seen as problems or opportunities. Wind may damage crops or drive a wind mill; water may erode stream edges or fill ponds; the sun may burn sensitive seedlings or promote growth. We must look at conditions in a positive and creative manner to use them effectively. Nature will do a considerable amount of work as it converts, distributes, filters, assimilates and stores materials. We want to put these natural processes to work for us. Efficient resource planning maximizes the use of biological, chemical and physical materials on the site to reduce the need for outside energy and materials. 

Three key strategies to efficient resource planning are first to reduce use of materials altogether, second to reuse materials to the extent possible, and lastly to resort to recycling. The reduction of material use will mean that resources do not have to be converted from raw to finished products. This will reduce the use of energy used in manufacture and transport, and potential pollution from wastes. The selection of materials may be based on the lowest cost over their life of manufacture, use and disposal. Reuse of materials without need for major conversion takes advantage of expenditures and resource conversions that have already taken place and gives old products a new, useful life. Recycling reduces disposal problems but requires an additional manufacturing process for resource conversion that is not needed by material reduction and reuse strategies. 

Other strategies for efficient resource use include:

	•	Eliminating the Concept of Waste - "Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes to approach the state of natural systems in which there is no waste." Sustainable design minimizes the "generation of waste." "Recognize that there is no such thing as waste, only resources out of place." (U.S. National Park Service, Guiding Principles of Sustainable Design, pg. 5)

	•	Managing Storage - "Maintaining adequate storage and balancing rate of replenishment with the rate of use are important keys to sustainability. Since rates of productivity, assimilation and use all vary, storage is the essential, ever-varying maintainer of equilibrium. All natural processes have their storage: groundwater basins for water; the atmosphere for oxygen, nitrogen and other gases; trees for biomass; and fatty tissue for animal energy. ... Passive solar heating systems use dense materials such as stone, brick, or water to store heat; ... soil is the essential storage medium for water, nutrients, and minerals." "While providing adequate storage is always essential ... it is almost equally important to provide for appropriate rates of replenishment and release. In most cases the ideal is rapid replacement and slow release." (John Lyle, Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development, pg. 43)

	•	Shaping Form to Guide Flow - "Energy and material flows occur within the physical environment, and the medium largely determines the pace and direction of flow. By shaping the medium (the environment), we can guide the flow." One of the results of design is that it creates form and space to accomplish specific purposes. (John Lyle, Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development, pg. 43) 

	•	Reusing Already Disturbed Areas - "Despite the declining availability of relatively unspoiled land and the wasteful way sites are conventionally developed, existing built areas are being abandoned and new development located on remaining rural and natural areas. This cycle must be reversed. Previously disturbed area must be reinhabited and restored, especially urban landscapes." (Andropogon Associates, Valdez Principles for Site Design, in U.S. NPS, pg. 41)

	•	Making a Habit of Restoration - "Where the landscape fabric is damaged, it must be repaired and/or restored. As most of the ecosystems are increasingly disturbed, every development project should have a restoration component. When site disturbance is uncontrolled, ecological deterioration accelerates, and natural systems diminish in diversity and complexity. Effective restoration requires recognition of the interdependence of all site factors and must include repair of all site systems - soil, water, vegetation, and wildlife." (Andropogon Associates, Valdez Principles for Site Design, in U.S. NPS, pg. 41)