Industrial Symbiosis Prospects in Jordan

In a developing country, such as Jordan, with a relatively emerging economy and limited natural resources, the industrial sector expends more effort than developed countries and even more than developing countries that are rich in natural resources. In such a situation industries should look into finding solutions to sustain their existence, which is not confined to keeping their production lines running and making profit, but it goes beyond that, it goes to a whole way of thinking a way that integrates the surrounding environment and that confirms on the industrial sector responsibility toward the environment, the home of its raw material. Basically, this is what can be called as Industrial Sustainability.

“Sustainable industrial development means doing more with less – increasing eco-efficiency, that is, decreasing the level of pollution and at the same time the amount of energy, material and other inputs required to produce a given product or service.

A concept that can be very important to attaining Industrial Sustainability is Industrial Symbiosis which offers a very feasible solution to a tight economic status. Especially that the payback that emerges from applying such a concept in the right conditions and circumstances exist makes is tempting. The benefits range from reducing the amount of waste released to the environment; reducing the cost of waste disposal and the cost of purchasing raw materials to even achieving better socio-economic status by generating new income source and employment opportunities.

Marian Chertow, a pioneer in Industrial Symbiosis, has acknowledged that Industrial symbiosis engages traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving physical exchange of materials, energy, water, and/or by products. The keys to industrial symbiosis are collaboration and the synergistic possibilities offered by geographic proximity"

Many industrial clusters over the developed countries has merged the Industrial Symbiosis concept with their environmental management systems, some saw failure and the other witnessed great success and benefits. Together failure and success emerged lessons learned. One of the very successful experiences developed and still existing Kalundborg, Denmark which has been described as an evolutionary process in which a number of independent by-products exchanges have gradually evolved into a complex web of symbiotic interactions, many studies show that this Industrial Symbiosis network has contributed significantly in reducing environmental impacts and increasing economical benefits over the years.

During my research journey in 2011 to investigate Industrial Symbioses existence or potential opportunities in Jordan, in which Zarqa Free Zone was taken as a study sample, it was concluded that there are some forms of waste exchange in the zone but it still did not reach the minimum criteria of Industrial Symbiosis. The potential and willingness from industries do exist to form an Industrial Symbiosis network especially that it could generate additional income to their business.

Many challenges were identified that could hold back the Zarqa Free Zone from adopting Industrial Symbiosis in its environmental management, such as the lack of adequate database that list the important data for evaluating any exchange such as the type and quantity of waste released from each industry. The current fluctuating financial situation is another obstacle that could be distracting industries from looking into best environmental practices. All in all, the challenges found could be solved by offering economical incentives and promoting successful pilot projects.In Jordan, national and political schemes have the opportunity to adapt, integrate and encourage such a concept.


  1. Awad Taleb (NA), Determinants of Economic Growth in Jordan, DAAD Partnership
  2. Wolf, Anna (2007), Industrial Symbiosis in the Swedish Forest Industry (Electronic Version), Linköping Institute of Technology, Linköping, Sweden
  3. Jaworski, John (NA), Application of Biotechnology to Industrial Sustainability, OCED, Canda

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Trends in Sustainable Housing

There has been large-scale proliferation in construction of buildings worldwide due to population growth, economic development, urbanization and migration. According to UN Habitat, there has been a migration of the world's population from rural areas to cities or smaller urban areas. In fact, this trend is expected to continue and cities within the developed as well as developing nations are expected to grow in terms of population. As a result all forms of construction activities are expected to become more intense than ever in the years to come.

Usually the development of urban areas suffers from weak process of planning and control which lead to bad housing conditions, poor sanitation system, limited electricity and water supply, and often poverty.  These issues coupled with high population growth rate, environmental degradation, global warming and limited non-renewable resources highlights the importance of sustainable housing for the survival of humankind.

Sustainability in Buildings

Building construction and operation have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generate a variety of wastes and emit potentially harmful gases. Basically the environmental impacts of buildings take place within six stages of building lifecycle:

  • Design process
  • Material or product manufacture
  • Distribution
  • Construction phase
  • Operation
  • Refurbishment or demolition

In terms of energy consumption, 60 percent of the world’s electricity is consumed by residential and commercial building. Space heating accounts for 60 percent of residential energy consumption and water heating for 18 percent in developed countries. Therefore radical changes must be made in design and performance of the buildings to reduce energy consumption and its corresponding environmental impact.

In many countries, sustainable construction methods are being adopted to lead the building industry towards sustainable development and provide better quality living environment. Basically sustainable building design and construction intend to diminish environmental impacts of building over its entire lifetime by paying attention to environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues.

Trends Around the World

The developed and developing world is facing sustainable housing and urbanization challenge in different ways.  Currently industrialized countries are the highest contributor in CO2 emissions. However it is expected that developing countries will take the lead in global warming in the near future. Developing countries are experiencing fast-paced urbanization and at the same time slums and informal settlements are also expanding rapidly which makes development of sustainable housing a difficult proposition.

Countries around the world are taking steps towards implementing sustainable design in the building sector. However most of them are still far from reaching the intended targets.  The major barriers in implementing energy efficiency in the building sector include:

  • Economic and financial issues;
  • Structural characteristics of political, economic and energy system; and
  • Lack of awareness and information

However different countries adopt different approaches for sustainable construction and set different priorities, depending on their economic condition. Nations with high economic growth are developing sustainable buildings making use of latest technologies and innovations. In case of developing countries, social equality and economic sustainability are foremost considerations. In fact, developing countries are moving slowly or even negative towards adopting sustainable housing strategies.

As far as Middle East is concerned, economic considerations dominate for oil and gas-rich GCC countries as they protect their oil and gas export reserves by investing in new ways to boost energy efficiency and lower energy consumption. However for less-affluent countries, such as Jordan, lack of indigenous energy resources and high energy costs are the primary reasons for implementation of sustainable design strategies in buildings.

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