Eco Design: Industrial Ecology

What is Industrial Ecology, Wikipedia defines it as "the shifting of industrial process from linear (open loop) systems, in which resource and capital investments move through the system to become waste, to a closed loop system where wastes become inputs for new processes...The name comes from the idea that we should use the analogy of natural systems as an aid in understanding how to design sustainable industrial system."

Basically, it is trying to design our industry to act like ecological systems.  Kalundborg,Denmark is a great example of this.  Here industries of varied products relay on each others product and waste to run their facility's.  Some of them are power plants, pharmaceuticals plant, oil refinery, and plasterboard manufacturer. They have made  use of the waste streams and energy resources, and turned the by-products into products.  For example,the reuse of fly ash for asphalt and gypsum, also the surplus heat from the power plant is used for the local fish farm.  These are but few examples to what can be done by starting to think and design this way.

Now taking this concept and adding it to the other ones I discussed already; Cradle to Cradle philosophy  - product design, Living buildings and Eco cities - redesigning our built environment and industrial ecology - how the manufacturing and other plants need to function more like nature.  As designers, architects and others we need to take these concepts, understand them and start using them as tools and guidelines in our creations.  When we start thinking this way, we will be able to create environments that can coexist with nature.

Source:,, The Designers Atlas

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