Industrial ecology is the systematic analysis of global, regional and local material and energy flows and uses that are associated with products, processes, industrial sectors, and economies. Energy consumption, non-renewable and renewable materials consumption, air pollutant emissions, waterborne pollutant effluents and solid waste generation associated with human activities are tracked and documented as part of this body of knowledge. These measures and consequent analyses are the foundation of industrial ecology, which seeks to design and manage products and services that meet human needs in an environmentally sustainable manner.
This course is designed as an interdisciplinary course. Industrial designers, process engineers, natural resource managers and policy makers, business managers, environmental health professionals, regulators, and consumers each play a critical role in shaping the environmental profile of products. A framework is presented for analyzing multi-stakeholder interests and the consequences of their decisions and actions. Ecological, economic, social, political, and technological factors that influence the life cycle and efficiency of a product system is considered. This life cycle encompasses raw materials acquisition and processing, manufacturing, use, resource recovery, and the ultimate disposition and fate of residuals.