Industrial Ecology and Design: a toolkit for designing sustainable systems


Weslynne Ashton, Associate Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability, Stuart School of Business, Illinois Institute of Technology
Carlos Teixeira, Associate Professor and PhD Coordinator, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology
Andre Nogueira, adjunct faculty member, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology
Marian Chertow, Associate Professor of Industrial Environmental Management and has been Director of the Industrial Environmental Management Program, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University
Cornelia Butler Flora, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Sociology
Emerita at Iowa State University and Research Professor at Kansas State University


Our current systems of production and consumption are based on a linear model of “taking, using, and wasting” resources to meet the demands needs of a growing global population. This linear production-consumption model is unsustainable as it promotes over-consumption of limited resources because it inadequately considers the connections between environmental, social, technical and economic concerns. Though interest is growing about the environment and sustainability, many organizations struggle to understand how these forces should be incorporated in their everyday practices.
In urban environments, where manufacturing activities declined or moved away, large swaths of vacant land and buildings pose major challenges to urban regeneration. These vacated spaces lack economic activities, business interests and social capital, but they also present opportunities for new interactions among diverse actors. The goal of this workshop is to enable participants to utilize a new framework to build sustainable systems solutions, applied to the case of urban infrastructure regeneration. The toolkit applies “seven capitals” as “innovation lenses” to complex systems challenges. Participants will leave with the ability to apply the toolkit to the regeneration of urban infrastructure, with broader applicability to other complex systems of interaction.

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