Musings from the International Symposium of Industrial Ecology

industrial ecologyUnmanned vehicles, evolving LCA tools and resilient infrastructure were the hot topics discussed at the recent International Symposium of Industrial Ecology in Chicago, Sustainability Consultant Blake Lindley says.

In late June, Edge Environment’s Blake Lindley attended the joint 9th biennial conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology and the 25th annual conference of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology, held at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in Chicago, USA.

The conference was an opportunity to network and observe the work of some the world’s brightest minds in fields of waste, industrial ecology, resilience and urban design, and their application of sound sustainability science. Presentations from keynotes by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation highlighted the potential economic benefits of industrial ecology, while discussion of Pathway 21’s facilitated by-product exchanges exemplified practical industry action.

On the topic of infrastructure, electric and unmanned vehicles attracted significant attention for their potential resilience to social and environmental challenges, particularly when coupled with estimates of fleet efficiency achieved through wholistic programming. It was inspiring to find that much of the academic conversation on resilient infrastructure was mirrored in Edge Environment’s existing work in the field, which affirms Edge’s practical application of best available science in design and operation.

It was exciting to see continued evolution of the life cycle assessment toolkit we use to measure and evaluate environmental impacts. The conference highlighted new, more accurate methods of impact assessment across the life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis and carbon footprinting fields, and the examples discussed provided unique takes on common environmental issues.

Maintaining an interface with academia provides an essential channel to stay at the forefront of sustainability, and working with these university partners is essential to the delivery of practical and useable data that can inform further research. We, at Edge, look forward to new projects and opportunities to collaborate with the goal of accelerating the transition to a sustainable economy.


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