Industry Meets Environment in New International Society at Yale

A community of researchers, policy makers, industrial strategists, and environmental advocates has launched an International Society of Industrial Ecology, which will be based at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The new field of industrial ecology applies ecological concepts to the organization and operation of industry.

The society will encourage communication among scientists, engineers, policymakers, managers and others who are interested in how environmental and economic concerns can be better integrated. “Industrial ecology,” said Tom Graedel, professor of industrial ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, “is a powerful way of finding innovative solutions to complicated environmental problems.”

John Ehrenfeld, visiting fellow at the school and emeritus director of the MIT Technology, Business and Environment Program, will serve as the society’s executive director. An international group of environmental leaders will serve as the steering committee. Industrial ecology looks to nature for clues on how to create more integrated and efficient industrial processes. The tools of industrial ecology include eco-design, eco-industrial parks, material and energy flow studies, life cycle assessment and organizational design. For example, in the industrial district of Kalundborg, Denmark, firms exchange energy, water, and materials to reduce the impact of environmental pollutants. In Kalundborg, the byproducts of one company have become valuable resources for another.

“The extensive re-use of wastes in Kalundborg illustrates one of the basic principles of industrial ecology,” said Reid Lifset, editor-in chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology and Yale University research scholar.

Since an inaugural conference convened by the United States National Academy of Sciences in 1991, the field of industrial ecology has been the focus of numerous research projects and international conferences in Scandinavia, France, India, Austria, the U.S. and Japan. Industrial ecology is also central to several academic programs including the graduate program in industrial environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the undergraduate degree program in industrial ecology at the Norwegian University School of Science and Technology.

The society is holding its inaugural meeting, “The Science and Culture of Industrial Ecology,” in the Netherlands from November 12-14. To become a member of the society or to submit abstracts for papers to be presented at the meeting, visit the International Society for Industrial Ecology Web site:

Membership benefits include a subscription to the Journal of Industrial Ecology, which is an international, multi-disciplinary peer-reviewed quarterly, as well as a newsletter dedicated to providing current news and information about the field, discounts on international conferences and access to electronic information.

For more information, contact the International Society for Industrial Ecology office at 203/436-4835 or

Members of the steering committee for the International Society for Industrial Ecology include David Allen, University of Texas, Austin, Texas; Braden Allenby, AT&T, Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Helge Brattebo, National University of Science & Technology, Trondheim, Norway; Stefan Bringezu, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy & the Environment, Wuppertal, Germany; Faye Duchin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York; Marina Fischer-Kowalski, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; Tom Graedel, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Barbara Karn, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.; Rene Kleijn, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands; Reid Lifset, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Yuichi Moriguchi, National Institute for Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan; Robert Pfahl, Motorola, Inc, Schaumburg, IL; Greg Pitts, Ecolibrium, Austin, Texas; Tadatomo Suga, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

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Reid Lifset:, 203-432-6949