Thursday, June 10, 2010

Live input from the eco-efficiency conference

The 3rd International Conference on Eco-Efficiency on Modelling and Evaluation for Sustainability:Guiding Eco-Innovation and Consumption in Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands can now be followed via blog messages and short youtube contributions from key-note speakers at The Broker

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Industrial Symbiosis Forum - Change of website link

Dear all

Given heavy traffic and increasing number of authors on the industrial symbiosis forum, I have now arranged for a proper domain to access this forum.

Please use to access the IS forum in the future.

Kind regards


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Free MFA articles in Journal of Industrial Ecology

   It will surprise no one that scientists and policy makers around the globe are concerned that humanity is using resources at rates that are accelerating and often unsustainable.  The challenges range from resource availability to the impacts of the extraction and use of those resources.
            For more than a decade, the Journal of Industrial Ecology has published scientific articles on theories, methods and tools to assess these flows of materials and their impacts, in order to contribute to the understanding of environmental and resource problems and to the development of useful solutions. These approaches include material flow analysis (MFA), substance flow analysis (SFA), life cycle assessment (LCA), environmental input-output (I-O) analysis and various combinations, at various scales from micro to global.   The Journal of Industrial Ecology (JIE) is a peer-reviewed international scientific journal owned by Yale University and published by Wiley-Blackwell.
            The October 2009 issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and much of the December 2009 issue are devoted to a very practical and timely topic: What is the power of tools such as MFA to support policy and management decision making and what are the real world examples of their use?   With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. National Science Foundation, the JIE has been able to solicit and compile a wide range of studies on this topic.  (The research published here does not, of course, necessarily represent the views of the funders.)
            How has MFA been applied and how useful is it? The answer, as illustrated by the peer-reviewed articles in these special issues, is encouraging. The 13 articles in these two issues ­- too many excellent articles were submitted to print in one issue ­- describe a variety of ways in which MFA and related approaches have improved system understanding in real world situations around the globe, particularly relating to problems of resource scarcity, pollution abatement and waste management.
        To make recent successes better known, the entire set of articles from the two issues has been made freely available on the JIE’s web site ( appsmfa/).   A limited number of free print copies are available for students, researchers from developing countries and journalists (contact:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paul Anastas is EPA's new research chief

Paul Anastas, a Yale University chemist who is considered to be the father of the green chemistry movement, is now in charge of EPA's (Environmental Protection Agency) Office of Research and Development. Anastas remains firmly committed to green chemistry, which is defined as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances:

"Sustainable design like green chemistry, green engineering and industrial ecology are absolutely the future of environmental protection", he states.

I think that this might prove to be a very important development towards shifting Industrial Ecology (or at least one aspect of it) to the mainstream of environmental management and practice.

Read full article here

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Friday, February 12, 2010

VIDEO: A.Bartlett on Arithmetic, Population, and Energy

In this video Professor A.Bartlett talks about steady growth and its consequences on a local, national and global level. Steady growth causes exponential increase (of whatever is growing), the consequences of which are (to say the least) poorly understood by most people. His lecture covers themes like population, climate, economics, production-consumption, energy, policy-making, sustainability, and associates everything to the continuous growth (in population, demand, production). Although Industrial Ecology is not mentioned explicitly, and although he seems to overemphasize overpopulation as the source of all bad things, this is a highly relevant lecture that demonstrates a realistic approach and understanding to sustainability.

For more information visit A.Bartlett's personal website

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Forest grow faster than ever due to climate change

Recent studies have shown increases in biomass across many forest types. This increase has been attributed to climate change. Using data collected over the past 22 years from 55 temperate forest plots, scientists found that recent biomass accumulation greatly exceeded the expected growth caused by natural recovery. Furthermore, the biomass increases are in line with globally observed climate-change patterns. Combined, these observations show that changes in temperature and CO2 that have been observed worldwide can fundamentally alter the rate of critical natural processes, which is predicted by biogeochemical models.

McMahon S.M. et al., 2010, "Evidence for a recent increase in forest growth", Proceeding of the National academy of Sciences, published online before print

Read the article online

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Bioengineered E.Coli produces biodiesel

Scientists have found that it is possible to alter the genetic makeup of the bacterium E.Coli  and induce it to produce biodiesel. Most bacteria, including E.Coli, make and process fatty acids, one of the ingredients of biodiesel; however, what they do with it often leaves something to be desired when it comes to fuel production. By modifying E. coli, scientists are able to make it produce fatty esters, which are the primary components of biodiesel.

Eric J.S. et al., 2010, "Microbial production of fatty-acid-derived fuels and chemicals from plant biomass", Nature 463, 559-56

Read the article at

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Industrial Ecology at Walmart

I found an interesting article about an interesting development that could be of interest for Industrial Ecology... The article was originally published in "Nikkei Ecology" by Bennett Cohen (an Analyst of the Rocky Mountain Institute).  I quote below a couple of abstracts. You can find the whole article in this link.

 [of increased interest for the Industrial Ecology community]. Walmart 
required that 
create throughout their life cycle].
Arizona State 
 life cycle 
simple, convenient, 

Is it ?

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emerald City: The sustainable eco-polis of the future

Emerald city is a collection of the world’s most innovative buildings, utilities and initiatives into one imaginary eco-topia. published this article were they looked for the best of what already exists or is in development, and integrated them in one city. This project, apart from giving a nice view to a possible sustainable future, serves also as a good list of "state of the art" in sustainability. It includes at least 22 categories of innovations and initiatives, among which: industrial ecology, smart grid, renewable energy, recycling, urban farming, and much more.

Read more: Welcome to Emerald City, sustainable eco-polis of the future! |

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Friday, December 11, 2009

IS/EID/EIN Track at the Sustainable Development Conference, Hong Kong 2010‏‏‏‏‏

Call for Papers: Sustainable Communities with - not despite - Industry: Industrial Symbiosis & Eco-industrial Development / Networking

The 16th Annual
International Sustainable Development Research Conference
Hong Kong, 30 May – 1 June, 2010

“A New Agenda for Global Governance”

Track: Sustainable communities with - not despite - industry: industrial symbiosis & eco-industrial development / networking

Chaired by:
Abhishek Agarwal, Aberdeen Business School, The Robert Gordon University, UK:
Ms Tracy Casavant, President, Eco-Industrial Solutions, Canada:
Professor Yong Un Ban, Chungbuk National University, Korea:
Professor Geng Yong, Chair Professor on Circular Economy and Industrial Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China:


The last two decades have seen an ever increasing interest in Industrial Symbiosis (IS) / Eco-industrial Development (EID) / Eco-industrial Networking (EIN) by policy makers, industry leaders and academics alike. This has led to the implementation of IS programmes and development of eco-industrial parks / networks in many countries.

In attempting to encourage the adoption of industrial ecology (IE) principles such planned initiatives by Government have been supported by the use of a range of ‘new’ environmental policy instruments, with many reported corporate and environmental success stories to date. In addition to government policy and programmes, multi-stakeholder efforts have played a key role in the development of IS/EID/EIN initiatives. This provides a rich area of research, especially in examining the performance of such policy instruments, cross-sectoral partnerships and governance around IS/EID/EIN initiatives, and associated corporate strategies and programmes utilised by the international business community in contributing to broader Sustainable Development aspirations.

This Track seeks to attract high quality papers which aim to be both critical and reflective of recent IS/EID/EIN projects and policy initiatives around the globe. This is important for those of us who are keen to see IE/IS as a meaningful concept in the pursuit of sustainability rather than merely a public relations exercise for Government, Facilitators and Corporate Actors. Both theoretical and empirical papers are welcome, either in full or developmental form, in the following areas:
Government Policy and Programmes to promote IS/EID/EIN:
- The Performance of New Environmental Policy Instruments e.g. Regulation, Market-based Instruments, and Voluntary Codes of Conduct
- Government involvement in promoting IS/EID/EIN initiatives
- Government-supported education and outreach
- Development of Performance Evaluation Indicators for Eco-industrial Parks/Networks
Regional multi-stakeholder efforts to promote industrial sustainability
- Cross-sectoral partnerships and governance for IS/EID/EIN
- Regional government and other stakeholders’ role in the development of IS/EID/EIN initiatives
- Role of facilitators in IS/EID/EIN initiatives and success of the facilitation process
- Planning and development of eco-industrial parks / networks; land use planning
- Transformation of existing industrial parks into eco-industrial parks
- Transferability of IS/EID/EIN successful practices from one context (place) to another
Cases from industry sectors / corporate actors
- IS/EID/EIN success/failure (case studies)
- The impact of IS/EID/EIN initiatives on Corporate / Environmental Performance and regional sustainability
- Reducing ecological / carbon / water footprint using IS/EID/EIN
Tools and Techniques of IE/IS e.g. internet based resource / by-products matching system
Evaluation tools and techniques for IS/EID/EIN projects, including environmental impact assessment and life cycle assessment

When submitting your abstract, please categorise it as TRACK “Sustainable communities with - not despite - industry: industrial symbiosis & eco-industrial development / networking” and THEME "Industrial symbiosis, eco-industrial parks and eco-industrial networking and regional sustainability"

Detailed information and link about how to submit an abstract is available at:

In addition to submitting abstract online, please send a copy of abstract by email to

Deadline for submitting abstracts: December 31, 2009

For further information please contact:
Abhishek Agarwal, Email:


Papers (accommodating the discussion at the conference) will be considered for publication in a special issue of a reputed journal.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Interview: Google on Industrial Ecology

Ever wondered what Google "thinks" about Industrial Ecology? Wonder no more. A smart little program called "Google Chat Bot" enables us to discuss with Google!

The program works in the following way: by entering three or four words, the system will search for this sentence at Google, find the next word and print that. Then it will remove the first word of the search string, add the found word and repeat.

By entering the words "Industrial Ecology" followed by a verb, Google continues the sentence letting us know what is the most popular understanding of IE in the web. In the following text, the verb used at each query is written in bold, and the sentence that Google Chat Bot generated is highlighted in red. The sentences are combined in a paragraph for easier reading. Keep in mind that Google is deep in wise and that many times in its answers it uses metaphors or riddles...

Google informs us that Industrial Ecology is inspired by biology but also draws on principles from different individual disciplines. Industrial ecology takes a systems view and enables industrial ecologists to tackle sustainability problems. In order to do that, industrial ecology uses the biological ecosystem as a model and a systems engineering approach for managing complexity.

Industrial Ecology was established on September ("Strategies for Manufacture" was published on September 1989) and has grown quickly in recent years. Google recognises IE's global importance by pointing out that it starts in the very centre of the world, while highlighting its additional role as a learning process.

Industrial Ecology is good for both the natural and the social environment since it gives us a way to save more animals while it lets consumers off the hook. It also benefits the economy since it can pay double dividends for business and it also looks for innovative solutions, thus boosting innovation

Google, referring to the history of Industrial Ecology stated that it had its roots in a religious response to environmental issues (the Gaia hypothesis triggered the emergence of some hippie religious movements). But it also highlighted the difficulties that IE faces in establishing its practices and ideas around the world by saying that IE takes place in a landscape called "a battlefield".

The discussion ended with Google revealing to us that IE is based on the true story of the three little pigs!!!

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Waste Exchange Initiatives (2)

I uploaded a post some months ago under the title Waste Exchange Initiatives, providing a list of 3 initiatives with brief information for each one of them. Today I came across a 4th one that I think deserves a post of its own. It is the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) in the UK.

This programme is interesting for a number of reasons. It is nation-wide (probably the only in the world of such scale), it is free, it aims at bridging the boundaries promoting synergies between companies from different sectors, it does nothing more than fostering cooperation (there are no incentives involved), it appears to be popular (I wouldn't risk saying successful because of lack of criteria for success) since it has over 8.000 companies as members.

You can find more information and case studies in the official website.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Utilizing agricultural residues for energy production

Sugarcane biomass, a significant waste product from sugar production, could be a renewable energy source for electricity production, according to research published in the international journal Progress in Industrial Ecology.

Engineer Vikram Seebaluck of the University of Mauritius and energy technology Dipeeka Seeruttun of the Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm, Sweden, have demonstrated that an optimal blend of sugarcane agricultural residues (30%) mixed with 70% sugarcane bagasse (the fibrous residue left after sugar production) can be used to generate electricity at a cost of just 0.06 US dollars per kilowatt hour. That figure is on a par with the costs of other renewable energies, including wind power at $0.05/kWh.

This paper deals with the potentials and opportunities of Sugarcane Agricultural Residues (SARs) for green power production in sugarcane-growing countries. It focuses on the possibilities of cofiring SARs with sugarcane bagasse, a similar physicochemical resource which is currently being commercially converted into electricity in state-of-the-art cogeneration plants. It also assesses the climate mitigation potentials of the resource through its eligibility for Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) as well as its socioeconomic benefits. A mix of 70% bagasse and 30% SARs was found to be the most appropriate cofiring option to avoid slagging in furnaces due to the inherent high ash content of SARs; this scenario required a 35% collection of SARs from sugarcane fields, which would increase the net export of surplus electricity in cogeneration plants by around 37% per tonne of cane harvested. SAR conversion into electricity is estimated to displace around 230 kg of subbituminous coal and 560 kg of CO2 per tonne. This feature can enable such a project to be eligible for CERs in line with bagasse cogeneration plants, which already qualify for these emission reductions.

Inderscience article link (needs access to the journal)


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Monday, November 02, 2009

Make sustainability fun!

This website is dedicated to showing that by using fun it's easy to guide people to more sustainable decisions. I personally believe this is very important, positivity and fun are strong drivers for decisons, combined with sustainability this results in more sustainable behaviour and more happy people!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Students make CO2 footprint calculator

Two students from the Leiden-Delft MSc Industrial Ecology programme have made a carbon footprint calculator for the website; the website where the Dutch public broadcasting organisations collect everything broadcasted about sustainability. The carbon footprint calculator allows for the online calculation of the personal carbon footprint of Dutch citizens.Unfortunately most the calculator itself is only in Dutch.

LCA PhD position at Leiden University

Those of you that have MSc in IE or related topics can now apply for a PhD position at CML Leiden university. The PhD student will perform Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies of farmed aquatic products in Asia. The PhD student will also further develop and adapt the LCA methodology for application in aquaculture. This research will be done in the framework of a large EU project on sustainable trade of farmed aquatic products between Asia and the EU. This SEAT (Sustaining Ethical Aquatic Trade) project proposes to establish an evidence-based framework to support current and future stakeholder dialogues organised by third party certifiers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Regrowing a Tropical rainforest: a Dutch success

At TED 2009, Willie Smit (Wageningen) explains how he regrew a rainforest on Borneo (Indonesia) in just a couple of years. The system thinking, the integration of local people and the managment of one of the most difficult eco-systems in the world (a rainforest) is a remarkable success! Link to the presentation.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Geo-engineering analysed by the Royal Society

Geo-engineering, also called  Earth Systems Engineering, has been a topic of debate within the Industrial Ecology Community for a number of years now.One of the founders of the field, Braden Allenby, as well as David Keith have been working on this topic. The topic is hotly debated because it is quite scary to speculate about technologies that temper with a complex system of which we know so little. On the other hand it might be one of the few solutions we have to prevent radical climate change. Today the BBC reports about a UK Royal Society study that  evaluates different geo-engineering options and concludes that engineering proposals to reduce the impact of climate change are "technically possible".


Friday, August 28, 2009

Using Solar Power to Extract Oil...

Here is a rather unusual use for Solar Power:

"Chevron disclosed...plans to thermal technology to enhance oil recovery from an aging well in central California. The system will use 7,000 mirrors on Chevron-owned land to reflect light onto a tower to make steam...The steam will be pumped underground to heat up heavy oils and make them easier to extract. Right now, Chevron uses natural gas to make steam."

Sources: cnet, reuters

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Mining the Technosphere: a Solution for the Industrial Ecosystem

Mining the Technosphere: a Solution for the Industrial Ecosystem? from Rembrandt Koppelaar on Vimeo.

This is a slide video of a presentation given by Rolf Widmer and David Rochat at the Oil Drum/ASPO Conference at Alcatraz, Italy in June 2009. Rolf and David work at EMPA and SOFIES on more efficient material management for industrial society. Their talk is about the flows, availability, and recycling of minerals in industrial ecosystems, called Mining the Technosphere: a Solution for the Industrial Ecosystem. The pdf's of the presentation can be found here1 and here2

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Waste Exchange Initiatives

I came across three regional initiatives promoting waste exchange, reuse and Industrial Symbiosis between companies, business and/or households. They are the following:
  • WasteMatchers: Re-use website for householders & Businesses in Cork City & County. This free exchange website is a joint venture between Cork County Council, Cork City Council, South Cork Enterprise Board and Macroom E. It allows you to pass on unwanted goods to others.
  • DublinWaste: Waste management website for householders in Dublin. It includes interactive features like Free Trade (pass on or pick up unwanted items for free) and Recycle Search (find local recycling facilities)
  • Mid-West Regional Authority: The Mid-West Regional Authority has recently become part of a National Network focusing on the concept of Industrial Ecology, where 'One Company's Waste is another Company's Resource'. The Network comprises representatives from the Regional Authorities, EPA, Regional Waste Management Offices and Supply Network Shannon.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

GM reduces the amount of Pt per Fuel Cell car from 80 to 30 g

GM has dramatically reduced the size and the Pt load in their 93 kW Fuel Cell from 80 g to 30 g. This is an important step forward although still far from the 3 g per car which is present in catalysts in conventional ICE cars. Pt availability and price will still be an important hurdle for FC vehicles entering the market with this level of Pt on board. Via green autoblog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Different results corn ethanol studies explained

In an online first article by Richard Plevin in de Journal of industrial Ecology the authors explain the differences between a recent study by Liska et al. and the GREET model that is used by regulators in California. It turned out that Liska assumed a more efficient biorefinery and in some cases fails to properly account for upstream emissions. When this is corrected both models come up with 61 g CO2-equivalent per MJ.

The work of Plevin is very important, especially when the discussion on a topic is as hot as it is with bioethanol. It is of utmost importance to clearly understand the reasons for the discrepencies in the results of different studies.

Update: Liska responds to Plevin and the editors enter the discussion.

Ethanol from wood reduces global warming emissions by 46% to 68% per MJ gasoline avoided

A study from the NTNU industrial ecology group conlcudes that ethanol from wood from boreal forests in Scandinavia could, depending on the system design, reduce global warming emissions of 46% to 68% per-MJ-gasoline avoided, along with reductions in most of the other environmental impact categories considered. Furthermore the study finds that the region's surplus forest-bioenergy resources are vast; use for the production of bioethanol today would have resulted in the displacement of 55% to 68% of the region's gasoline-based global warming emission—or 6% to 8% of Norway's total global warming emissions associated with road transportation. The study was published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology

Marian Chertow on Industrial Symbiosis

Here is an 8:00 interview with Marian Chertow talking about Industrial Symbiosis. The Yale professor looks at cooperation and material flows between companies as an emergent phenomenon (rather than planned). She brings on examples of Eco-Industrial parks in Denmark, Hawaii and India. Notions like self-organization and closed material loops are introduced. A short, simple and educative talk by one of the veterans of the Industrial Ecology field.

"You remember mutual symbiosis from middle school biology, where two animals – like the clown fish and the sea anemone – form a relationship that benefits both. The same life-cycle principles are now being applied to industrial systems."

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Monday, August 03, 2009

My next car....

I've been telling my friends for years now that our next car would be an electric car (yes car would even be better...). Until now the only options were a very limited Think or a the Tesla gadget car. It seems that there is light on the horizon with the unveiling of the Nissan Leaf that will be for sale late 2010 in Japan, the US and (yes) Europe. This looks like a normal car, has a range of 180 km and can be charged upto 80% in 30 minutes with a special charger. On 220 V a full charge will take 8 hours.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video of the MSc Industrial Ecology

Students and teachers on the unique international and interdisciplinary aspects of the Leiden-Delft MSc programme on Industrial Ecology and on what it is all about.

The story of stuff

Less based on facts and scientific analysis than the Carbon Footprint of Nations in the last post is the very nice 20 minutes animated movie "The story of stuff" by Annie Leonard. This can serve as an eye-opener for people unfamiliar with the concepts of Industrial Ecology, Industrial Metabolism, Life Cycle Assessment, Sustainable Consumption and Production etc.

Carbon Footprint of Nations

The Industrial Ecology group at NTNU published a website on the carbon footprint of nations, which not only looks very nice but it is also based on a state of the art Industrial Ecology analysis (which cannot be said for most carbon footprint calculators on the web). This makes the website useful for both the general public as well as Industrial Ecology professionals.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mediterranean diet reduces environmental impact of food consumption by 8%

A study commissioned by the IPTS Sevilla and performed by TNO and CML concludes that a switch to a Mediterranean diet is not only good for your health but also reduces the environmental impact of food consumption by about 8% (for an average EU citizen).

E-reader has less impact than printed paper

A studentreport of two students of the Dutch MSc Industrial Ecology shows that average office workers can reduce their environmental impact by switching from printed paper to an e-reader.

Industrial Symbiosis Blog

Abhishek Agarwal informed about his Industrial Symbiosis Blog, have a look !

French carbon tax

It is my personal believe that a carbon tax is one of the few real policy measures that might curve the ever increasing carbon dioxide emissions. It is promising to see that more and more countries are looking at ways to implement a carbon tax. Of course this should be accompanied by an equal reduction in other taxes (e.g. VAT, why do we tax added value anyway ?). Just now Reuters published some news on the French plans for a carbon tax in which they also mention the Swedish initiative for an EU carbon tax.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Industrial Ecology is changing the world

The Times magazine published an article around Christmas entitled "What's Next 2009: 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now". Idea number 10 is named "Ecological Intelligence", a characteristic that will emerge, according to the authors, from the field of Industrial Ecology:

"Using a young science called industrial ecology, businesses and green activists alike are beginning to compile the environmental and biological impact of our every decision — and delivering that information to consumers in a user-friendly way. That's thinking ecologically — understanding the global environmental consequences of our local choices."

Unfortunately the article describes Industrial Ecology as the "science of LCA", ignoring most of what makes Industrial Ecology different and revolutionary (techno/bio-sphere analogy, systems thinking, social aspects, etc.). Although articles like this one help in drawing attention to this "young science called Industrial Ecology", they also hurt the field by popularizing an outdated and oversimplified version of Industrial Ecology.

The article is based on the new book of D.Goleman: "Ecological Intelligence"
Watch a short clip of D.Goleman giving his opinion on the use of Industrial Ecology

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Dematerialization is the concept of making more with less. Taken from the economic point of view, it refers to the absolute or relative reduction of material required to serve economic functions in society.
There have been various discussions around the subject. Some people think that dematerialization will come naturally as technology evolves (ephemeralization) while others are of the opinion that it should be a well defined pursuit for the society. One way or another, it is very possible that without it, economic growth will come sooner or later to an end.
In the picture above you can see the expression of an interesting, non-scientific argument for dematerialization. It is worth to mention that the picture is from the oldest squat (and specifically from the toilet) in the Netherlands, the "Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg" in Leiden.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

On the 25th of March an event is organized in which the students of the Industrial Ecology Master Programme will showcase their work in real-life case studies where Industrial Ecology principles and tools are applied . The event will be a Studium Generale under the title Industrial Ecology in Practice - A Systemic Approach Towards Sustainability.

Visit the website of the Studium Generale

Monday, February 09, 2009

"Can Web 2.0 Outperform Duct Tape and WD-40?"

Here is an interesting conference at the Center for Industrial Ecology at Yale.


February 11th, 2008 4:30PM-6:00PM
Burke Auditorium, Kroon Building, 195 Prospect Street,
New Haven, CT
David Rejeski, Woodrow Wilson Center to speak on Web 2.0
Read the Press Release here.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Upcoming conference ISIE Lisbon

In June 2009 the International Society for Industrial Ecology organizes the 5th biannual conference on Industrial Ecology in Lisbon, Portugal. These conferences are excellent opportunities to hear about the latest research in the field and to talk to lots of interesting people.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

5 DIY Green Building Techniques

Steve Kornher Flying Concrete Homes

Living Roof- New Academy of Sciences: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

The Farm- Summertown, TN.

Adobe/Cobb/Strawbale- The Farm, Alex's Green Dragon Tavern: Summertown TN

Rammed Earth- Eden Project: Cornwall, England

The pictures from The Green Dragon, at the Ecovillage Training Center, at The Farm in Tennessee, show the progress of the project, which is still in construction. it was constructed to be the largest cobb structure east of the Mississippi. The roof construction pictured above was particularly difficult, as it caved in once and had to be built again. The structure uses a combination of almost all known natural building techniques, the walls are strawbale covered by cobb and then adobe for extra insulation. There is also use of earth bags, such as in the construction of the fireplace face. Earth bags are large strong bags, that you fill with dirt, to create something similar to a sandbag. These are incredibly strong. The Dragon Sculpture and large face inside the structure I made myself and took pictures of the process, I sculpted it out of cobb, which is dirt, clay and straw then covered it with a mixture of adobe and lime to harden it. We then painted it with store bought natural colorings and painted around it as we did the whole building with that orange coloring. Other highlights of the natural building process included custom wood fences that we built with the help of a local construction agency.

The living roof at the New Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park S.F. is the largest example of a living roof. A living roof provides very good natural insulation and the moisture from the grass actually cools the building in the summer and insulates it in the winter. Living roofs can also be executed on a much smaller scale. The pictures of the smaller huts above are again from the Farm. Anyone can create a living roof like this. First spread old or recycled carpet pieces over a wooden foundation. Then spread dirt and and grass seeds on top. water and sunlight create the roof. The Green Dragon shows pictures of a living roof with seeds that have not yet sprouted, another picture from later on shows the building when weeds took hold of the roof. This is not a big deal because the building is still in progress.

The Rammed Earth at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England also uses a variety of natural building techniques. The rammed earth wall above uses techniques possibly old as the Great Wall of China. Rammed earth is similar to adobe and cob techniques, in that the soil is mostly clay and sand. The difference is that the material is compressed or tamped into place, modern forms utiilize heavy mechinisms and even machinery to compress the material.

Steve Kornher is the builder who has made flying concrete a notable building material. "Flying Concrete" or, Lightweight concrete has been used in this country for more than 50 years. Its strength is roughly proportional to its weight and its resistance to weathering is about the same as that of ordinary concrete. As compared with the usual sand and gravel concrete it has certain advantages and disadvantages. Among the former are the savings in structural steel supports and decreased foundation sizes because of decreased loads, and better fire resistance and insulation against heat and sound. Its disadvantages include greater cost (30 to 50 percent), need for more care in placing, greater porosity, and more drying shrinkage.

The principal use of lightweight concrete in Bureau work is in construction of underbeds for floors and roof slabs, where substantial savings can be effected by decreasing dead load. It is also used in some insulated sections of floors and walls.

Lightweight concrete may be obtained through use of lightweight aggregates, as discussed in the following sections, or by special methods of production. These methods include the use of foaming agents, such as aluminum powder, which produces concrete of low unit weight through generation of gas while the concrete is still plastic. Lightweight concrete may weigh from 35 to 115 pounds per cubic foot, depending on the type of lightweight aggregate used or the method of production. In Bureau construction, lightweight concretes have been limited to those whose lightness depends on inorganic aggregates which are light in weight.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Overcoming the Hurtles of Solar Power

From the sunny olive groves of Spain comes a encouraging story of the advancements in solar power. At the beginning of 2008, the government of Spain enacted the law Real Decreto 661/2007, effective for one year offering cash to installers so that they could sell solar power at competitive rates. It also offered subsidies to utilities if they would buy at premium rates. This made solar power more completion with other sources. Because one of the biggest hurtles of going solar is the expensive start up costs of renting and installing the equipment, with this entry barrier tempered the playing field was leveled a bit. The result is this quote from Yahoo News.

“An enormous explosion in installed solar capacity, over 3 gigawatts in one year, enough to displace up to five coal-fired power plants. This number was far higher than analysts had predicted, but it comes at a significant cost, and not just to people's electricity bills.”

Unintended consequences now that the subsidy is being rolled back, is that the artificially inflated market is now unsteady, with deadlines being fudged, cases of fraud turning up, and installers finding less and less work.

Some solutions to this problem could be to follow Germany’s lead and making the subsidies effective for ten years, by that time the initial investment would be paid off and the foundation more solid. Also because the installation costs are such a hurtle using increased incentives, discounts and tax breaks for implementation of solar and other clean energy technology may also improve the situation.
by Alex Borsody

These picture my friends sent me from Spain

solar panels in an orange field in Spain.

solar panels in olive fields in Barcelona

the bottom image is a giant solar panel in a Barcelona park


Friday, January 16, 2009

Coca-Cola Hybrid Delivery Fleet to Become Biggest in North America

First the Military now Coke? it seems like every unlikely candidate for caring about just about anything or anybody has taken the initiative to be green, at least in transportation. Corporate responsibility is stepping up now that they see 4 years of Obama maybe? who knows, but they do plan to adding 185 hybrid booklet electric trucks.