Sustainable Communities
Capacity Center

Economic DevelopmentPlanning & Land UseEco-MunicipalityEnergy
Climate ChangeAgriculture & Natural ResourcesConsumer ChoicesCommunity Stories




Return to Tool Box

Tool Box Industrial Ecology

Industrial ecology focuses on the redesign of manufacturing. The design idea is to mirror production in nature. Nothing in a production process is "waste" and everything that comes out of the process is either a product for sale or an input for another manufacturing process. Another term for this is cradle-to-cradle manufacturing.

For additional information in Industrial Ecology, contact Sustainability Team members:

top of page

PowerPoint Presentations:

top of page

Recommended Reading:

  • Eco-restructuring: Implications for Sustainable Development,
    Edited by Robert U. Ayres, et al.
    This study provides a significant contribution to the literature on sustainability by identifying, on a sectoral basis, the critical issues facing the world as a whole, and the technical feasibility of addressing them. A new paradigm of eco-restructuring for sustainable development is introduced, involving shifts in technology, economic activities and lifestyles needed to harmonize human activities with natural systems.

Two important theoretical books for a "deep" understanding of topics such as sustainability, economic behavior, industrial ecology, and The Natural Step. Note: The Natural Step is not mentioned in either book.

  • Information, Entropy, and Progress
    by Professor Robert U Ayres (1997)
    Available through your favorite book retailer.
    This book presents a look at evolution on several scales, from the earth and its geology and chemistry to living organisms to social and economic systems. In his analysis, Ayres applies the principles of thermodynamics and the concepts of information gathering and self-organization.

  • Nature: An Economic History
    by Geerat J. Vermeij (2006)
    Available through your favorite book retailer.
    "There are clear analogies between economics and biological evolution, but the thesis of this articulate essay is that both fields can and should be described in exactly the same terms in a single theoretical framework. In successive chapters describing consumption of resources, competition, organization, environment and geography... with copious examples from paleontology, ecology, and economic history, the overarching common description of competition for locally scarce resources and differential success based on variation, leading to evolving adaptations and descent with modification." (From publisher's description)

top of page

Additional Informative Sites:

  • Waste=Food
    An inspiring documentary on the Cradle to Cradle design concept work of German chemist, Michael Braungart, and the American designer-architect William McDonough by Rob van Hattum (2006). An explanation and look at some projects in the field of industrial ecology using cradle to cradle design.

  • Interface Sustainability
    Interface's The Natural Step page

top of page

The following information is available here as a Word document

Industrial Ecology and Manufacturing Bibliography
 --------Ver. 10152008----Jay Moynihan

means purchase, contracting, or paid subscription necessary


Industrial Ecology: An Environmental Agenda for Industry
by Hardin Tibbs (1992)
The Tibbs article, that kind of put it on the radar screen.

Industrial Ecology: An Introduction
National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education (1995)
Industrial Ecology

Selected Reading Materials
National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education (1995)

 The city that started it all:

   Lessons to be Learned (The Industrial Symbiosis at Kalundborg Denmark)
   A good overview of the process of Kalundborg’s development, and lessons learned. (11/2006)


   Industrial Ecology T. E. Graedel, B.R. Allenby,  American Telephone and Telegraph Company (2003)      
   Prentice Hall, Inc.


    ($) Journal of Industrial Ecology (Yale)

    ($) Journal: Progress in Industrial Ecology

Professional association:

   International Society for Industrial Ecology

 Articles and other resources

   Road Map to Natural Capitalism by A. Lovins, H. Lovins, P. Hawken Harvard Business Review (1999)

Industrial Ecology: From Theory to Practice

The Greening of Industrial Ecosystems National Academy Press (1994)
Free on-line book, full text.

($) Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough, Michael Braungart (2002)
A must read book.

Indigo Development introduction to Industrial Ecology
Free materials from a consulting firm.

Interface, Inc.
Site about their sustainability program. The premier American corporation practicing industrial ecology.

 Existing or Developing Eco-Industrial Parks in the U.S.

Other resource lists:

 Industrial Ecology: Resource List (1995)

 Annotated Bibliography (1995)

top of page


Return to Capacity Center

Tool Box



Sustainability Team Information


Contact Sustainability Team: