Industrial Ecology

Industrial ecology is relatively young interdisciplinary field of study that looks at the relationships between industrial operations and the natural world through a “systems” lens.  Rooted in principles of physics, ecology, and systems theory, industrial ecology uses tools such as “life cycle assessments” and “material flow accounting” to track and study the interconnections among natural resources, raw materials, waste, industrial outputs, and related consumption patterns.

  • Dark side of insulation Featured Article Dark side of insulation Dark side of insulation

    Building insulation has become a modish activity in the western world since the 1980s. Considerable benefits can accrue in energy conservation, occupant comfort and reduction of... More »

  • Rooftop runoff contamination Featured Article Rooftop runoff contamination Rooftop runoff contamination

    [The lead author of this article is Dennis Lye] Rooftop runoff contamination is receiving increasing attention as environmental and health issues, particularly as human... More »

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Fossil fuel Last Updated on 2014-10-28 12:02:28 Fossil fuel is any naturally occurring carbon compound found in the Earth's crust that has been produced by anaerobic conditions and high pressures acting on dead organisms. These fossil fuel deposits are typically found at depths beneath the Earth surface or ocean floor of tens of meters to kilometers, and often occur in large agglomerations of gas, liquid or solid matter. Presently, combustion of fossil fuels account for over 86 percent of the world's artificial energy delivered to the human society. These fuels are considered non-renweable in that their natural creation time requires millions of years. The extraction, processing and combustion of fossil fuels causes significant adverse environmental consequences to biodiversity, air quality and water quality, as well as substantial impacts to human health and mortality. These processes also generate large... More »
Sustainability Last Updated on 2014-06-28 09:40:31   Despite its popularity, the term sustainability is used in a wide variety of ways with a plethora of meanings. At the 1992 United Nations-sponsored Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, sustainable development was discussed in the context of a 1987 report entitled Our Common Future, which defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." However, challenges remain in understanding how this definition could be helpful in evaluating policy choices or business decisions, since avoiding impeding the "ability of future generations to meet their own needs" requires predicting both their needs and their abilities. More recently, industrial ecology has been referred to as the "science of sustainability", although industrial ecology itself is... More »
Public Health Statement for 1,1,2-Trichloroethane Last Updated on 2013-09-17 22:09:18 This article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by EoE editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the EoE. December 1989 CAS# 79-00-5 This Public Health Statement is the summary chapter from the Toxicological Profile for 1,1,2-trichloroethane. It is one in a series of Public Health Statements about hazardous substances and their health effects. A shorter version, the ToxFAQs™, is also available. This information is important because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737. 1,1,2-Trichloroethane is a colorless, sweet-smelling liquid that does... More »
Anthropocene Last Updated on 2013-09-03 12:23:40 The Anthropocene defines Earth's most recent geologic time period as being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans. The word combines the root "anthropo", meaning "human" with the root "-cene", the standard suffix for "epoch" in geologic time. The Anthropocene is distinguished as a new period either after or within the Holocene, the current epoch, which began approximately 10,000 years ago (about 8000 BC) with the end of the last glacial period. Anthropocene is a new term, proposed in 2000 by Nobel Prize winning scientist Paul Crutzen. A similar term, Anthrocene, was coined by Andrew Revkin in his 1992 book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, but was not adopted by scientists.... More »
Global human appropriation of net primary production (HANPP) Last Updated on 2013-09-03 12:01:37 Humanity’s impact on the biosphere’s structures (e.g., land cover) and functioning (e.g., biogeochemical cycles) is considerable. It exceeds natural variability in many cases. Sanderson and others have classified up to 83% of the global terrestrial biosphere as being under direct human influence, based on geographic proxies such as human population density, settlements, roads, agriculture and the like; another study, by Hannah et al., estimates that about 36% of the Earth’s bioproductive surface is “entirely dominated by man”. HANPP, the “human appropriation of net primary production,” is an aggregated indicator that reflects both the amount of area used by humans and the intensity of land use. NPP is the net amount of biomass produced each year by plants; it is a major indicator for trophic energy flows in ecosystems. HANPP measures to... More »