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If funds were found for this planning, it is entirely possible that the funds could be returned at the end of the project and reinvested to fund more projects of this type. This is because the design costs are part of the overall development costs and the developer can be required to pay for it as part of the development contract. In the conventional model, the village relies on the developer to do all the design. However, this is a disadvantage for them in a number of ways. The developer’s objective is to minimize expenses on the villagers’ housing while maximizing his speculative development. It was actually explicitly expressed that the town leaders expected the villagers’ housing to be walled off in one corner of the site. Our objective is to get the villagers the most from their resources, including land, and to integrate other development in a way that benefits them as well as other new buyers.


From an ecological perspective, depending on the developer for design has more severe problems. The developer typically only deals with one part such as housing or commercial development. The benefits of interaction between these uses are not realized. The developer also typically does not become involved with infrastructure, so whole system benefits cannot be realized. Expanding on the sewage system example, the sewage system is seen as an isolated product that will be provided by others and is designed and financed in isolation from the housing and other elements of the community.


Another problem is that the developer does not pay the operating costs of the development. Therefore long term energy savings or water savings are not seen as cost effective for the developer even though they are beneficial to the home owner, village and city. For example, Tianjin faces serious water shortages and has to pay a great deal to bring in water from long distances. Aside from the cost to Tianjin, this is having serious environmental consequences elsewhere with some rivers now running dry. However, when we proposed a water recycling system to a private developer he rejected it out of hand as uneconomical. Making that investment does not make sense to the developer because he does not pay the costs of the water supply or long term operation. For him recycling is just an added expense.


We explained to one private developer some of our whole system concepts. The developer thought the ideas were good but said that the projects they had the opportunity to do were limited in scope and they didn’t have control over many of the elements we were including in our design.


Many of the solutions we propose are highly beneficial economically, saving on initial capital costs, long term operating costs and environmental costs. And they produce a healthier and more beautiful community. If there were many examples of such solutions and they were well understood by local people, there would be no need for our help. However, as it stands, we need to be able to show the community, the local government and the developers an actual plan where they can see what the community will be like and what the costs and benefits are. As already pointed out, the village doesn’t have the money to do this. The developer doesn’t do it because he does not have control of all the necessary elements and because some of the benefits go to others, not him. We are looking for ways to break this logjam and get past this initial barrier.


This “micro model” has the potential to improve the individual lives of thousands of people as well as improve the global environmental prospectus. Earlier successful work Groundwork did in Cuba and Nicaragua has been presented and shared in global forums. This eco-village in China has the potential for even greater success as it will be a pivotal leverage point at the right time and in the right place.


We believe this is a great opportunity that can demonstrate ideas that are important for changing the course of development in China and other parts of the world. If you would like to help or if you have questions, please contact us at this link:  contact.




Huck Rorick

Executive Director


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