The Patterns of a Conservation Economy
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Ecological Infrastructure
Examples of this pattern in action:

Living Machines
A Living Machine is an effective and economical system for biological treatment of high strength industrial wastewater and sewage. Finished water from a Living Machine is clean enough for re-use applications such as irrigation or toilet flush water. Living Machines incorporate and accelerate the processes nature uses to purify water. With the help of sunlight and a managed environment, a diversity of organisms including bacteria, plants, snails, and fish break down and digest organic pollutants. Depending on the climate, Living Machines can be housed in a protective greenhouse, under light shelter or in the open air.

Noted landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, ASLA, designed an extensive greenroof on top of the Liberty Square Building in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia (Landscape Architecture Magazine, May 1998). This application is a prime example of the purely aesthetic benefits provided by the welcome visual relief for the many high-rise office views. Blue and green fescues and kinnikinnick, a native ground cover, are planted to represent the local Fraser River flowing through the mountains. Although this greenroof is installed with a low-intensity irrigation system, it does not require fertilization or cutting. The grasses are raked at the end of the winter (Landscape Architecture Magazine, May 1998).

A bioswale is a drainage canal that diverts runoff water from the sewer into a natural area where native wetland plants help absorb and recycle it. Plants like grasses and rushes are commonly found in bioswales because they help to trap the water and force it to absorbe, rather than flowing through the bioswale to the other side.

Organizations whose work incorporate this pattern:

Ocean Arks International


Honachefsky, William B. Ecologically Based Municipal Planning. Lewis Publishers. Boca Raton, FL. 1999.

Matilsky, Barbara C. Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists' Interpretations. Rizzoli Books. New York, NY. 1992.

Whole Earth Review. Modern Landscape Ecology (Special Issue). Whole Earth Review. San Rafael, CA. Summer 1998.

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Pattern Index

A Conservation Economy

Social Capital

Fundamental Needs

Subsistence Rights

Shelter For All


Access To Knowledge


Social Equity


Cultural Diversity

Cultural Preservation

Sense Of Place

Beauty And Play

Just Transitions

Civic Society

Natural Capital

Ecological Land-Use

Connected Wildlands

Core Reserves

Wildlife Corridors

Buffer Zones

Productive Rural Areas

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Forestry

Sustainable Fisheries


Compact Towns And Cities

Human-Scale Neighborhoods

Green Building

Transit Access

Ecological Infrastructure

Urban Growth Boundaries

Ecosystem Services

Watershed Services

Soil Services

Climate Services


Economic Capital

Household Economies

Green Business

Long-Term Profitability

Community Benefit

Green Procurement

Renewable Energy

Sustainable Materials Cycles

Resource Efficiency

Waste As Resource

Product As Service

Local Economies

Value-Added Production

Rural-Urban Linkages

Local Assets

Bioregional Economies

Fair Trade

True Cost Pricing

Product Labeling