The metabolism of the old industrialized Ruhr region has been analyzed using comprehensive material flow balances, sectoral attribution and disaggregation down to the community level (Bringezu and Schütz 1995; Bringezu 1999; Bringezu 2000a). Within the different communities, mining and manufacturing underwent technological change which tended towards increased resource efficiency, but in significantly varying degrees.
Specific issues of the metabolism of regions have been studied as tools for enhanced regional materials management (Thran and Soyez 2000; Thran and Schneider 1998). The management of regrowing resources from forestry and agriculture and the build-up of regional producer-consumer networks have also been assessed from the point of view of assessing regional production of value added. For example, the potentials and options of increased use of timber products were studied in the Trier region (Maxson et al. 2000) and in the Ostprignitz-Ruppin region of the state of Brandenburg (Thran and Schneider 1998). The establishment and extension of the use of fiber products from agriculture is being studied for the Dresden region (http:llwww.nachhaltig.orglghkassellprolang.htm).
Studies on industrial networks have been performed for residues of metal manufacturing in the Ruhr (Schwarz et al. 1996). Management issues for cooperation chains along the production-consumption route were discussed from various perspectives in Strebel and Schwarz (1998). In 1998, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research launched a research program on 'model projects for sustainable economies'. The main topics include 'agriculture and regional marketing', 'regional material flow management' and 'strengthening regional potentials' (see http:llwww.nachhaltig.org). First results of the regional flow management studies are available (Liesegang et al. 2000). Optimization of waste use within Heidelberg's Pfaffengrund industrial area and the surrounding Rhine-Neckar region was studied to improve communication structure and to provide on-line tools for materials management in and between companies (Sterr 2000). Work is going on at present on metal manufacturing in the Hamburg region (Gottschick and Jepsen 2000). At the industrial park level, cooperation between companies for utilization of waste materials and energy was studied in Henstedt-Kaltenkirchen northeast of Hamburg (Grossmann et al. 1999). This work was supported by the environmental ministry of the state of Schleswig-Holstein which issued a guide for cooperation and networking (MENFSH 1999). A data base of appropriate information for a materials and energy network is being built for the Karlsruhe Rhine harbor (Fichtner et al. 2000). For a comparison of industrial network studies in the German-speaking area, see Wietschel and Rentz (2000).
In 1997, the German Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (FOBRP 1999) initiated a competition between 26 'regions of the future'. The results were presented at the Urban 21 conference in Berlin in 2000. Several pilot projects designed to create more efficient materials and energy flows were also conducted within those regions (http://www. bbr. bund.de/english/moro/future. htm).
At the community level different approaches have been applied in various cities for environmental reporting and management. In Germany, the 'Eco-Budget' method was developed and tested by communities like Dresden, Heidelberg, Bielefeld and the region of Nordhausen (Burzacchini and Erdmenger 2000 and http:llwww.iclei.org/ecobudget). Analogously to financial budgeting, the community council decides on an 'environmental budget' on the basis of physical information on the consumption of resources and the release of emissions and generation of waste, both in absolute terms and in relation to the economic (and social) performance.
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