Emergy as a measure to assess sustainable development
2016 (English)In: Proceedings of 22nd International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, 13 – 15 July 2016, 2016Conference paper (Other academic)
Emergy accounting is one of the methods in the sustainability assessment toolbox. In its use of stocks and flows of energy and matter it has similarities with Material Flow Analysis (MFA), Substance Flow Analysis (SFA), and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), but Emergy accounting also includes stocks and flows of money and information. In its methodological approach of relating to a global baseline of renewable flows Emergy accounting is similar to Ecological footprints in that it is not just revealing which of two alternatives is using more or less of different stocks or flows but also comparing the use to available renewable flows on a global annual basis.This paper address the contribution of three different aspects of emergy accounting (emergy analysis, emergy synthesis) to the overarching goal of sustainable development. The discussed aspects were: 1) the Emergy Sustainability Index (ESI), 2) emergy as a normalizing measure, and 3) emergy as a network measure.It was concluded that the Emergy Sustainability Index (ESI) is an interesting measure but does not catch the full range of the sustainability concept. The emergy accounting approach, with the ESI as part of it, has a lot more to say about sustainability than just what is captured by the ESI. An interesting outcome is that the traditional triple-bottom-line of environmental, economic and social sustainability emerges very easily from the emergy assessment conceptual diagram approach. Emergy accounting holds a promise of clarifying the fuzziness often connected to how to classify economic, social, and socio-economic domains of sustainability. These are in practice often difficult to distinguish between, as are their connections to the ecological/environmental sustainability. The reason why the ESI captures only a small part of what is interesting from a sustainability point of view in the full emergy assessment may be that it has the focus on the traditional load and yield components. Many of the interesting parts from emergy evaluation in the sustainability context may instead come from the capability of emergy accounting to capture network properties.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ESI, system network, system sustainability
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-28487OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-28487DiVA: diva2:949635
22nd International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference, School of Science and Technology, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, 13 – 15 July 2016