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Welcome to Industrial Ecology Freiburg!

We are the research group for sustainable energy and material flow management (Nachhaltiges Energie- und Stoffstrommanagement) at the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources.

Materials and energy are needed to build and operate cities, industries, and infrastructure. At the same time, the supply of energy and materials is a major driver of global environmental crises, including global warming and deforestation. A sustainable use of materials and energy reconciles human needs with the Earth’s carrying capacity; it enables societies to thrive whilst respecting ecological ceilings.

Our mission is to find out how a sustainable supply and use of materials and energy could look like for different levels of economic development, cultures, and lifestyles and to identify the most effective strategies for sustainable production and consumption.

On these pages, we present the group members, our research approach, and our teaching.

We also maintain a research portal, where we blog about our research and the projects we are involved in, host a database with our research results, share model information and teaching material, and provide visualisation tools

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In our research, which is part of the cross-disciplinary fields industrial ecology and socio-metabolic research, we use material cycle and scenario models to quantify the link between human needs, energy and material use, and environmental impact associated with material and energy supply. We study the impact on energy and material demand of different resource efficiency strategies (circular economy), regulatory measures, economic incentives, urban forms, different levels of societal inequality, and of sufficiency strategies. With our models, we estimate the global environmental impacts of material production and energy supply under different socioeconomic and technology deployment scenarios.

With our systemic sustainability research approach, we determine the potential effect of different sustainable development strategies as well as their co-benefits and trade-offs. Our research contributes to a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability potential of the different supply and demand-side strategies. Our scenarios help identify effective policy levers for decoupling human wellbeing from resource use and environmental destruction. We disseminate the results of our work to a wide audience, including policy makers, consultants, industry organisations, NGOs, the general public, and the global scientific community.

Our teaching covers a broad and systematic overview of the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability. In our courses, we present a global to local perspective on the major energy and material consuming sectors buildings, transport, and industry. We provide cutting-edge knowledge about the different scientific methods of our field, including material and energy flow analysis (MEFA), the stock-flow-service nexus, life cycle assessment (LCA), input-output analysis (IO), and quantitative scenario analysis.

Our group is part of the global community of industrial ecology and socio-metabolic research, which are represented by the International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE).