Material Stock Analysis (MSA)

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Material flow studies investigate the movement of physical materials into and out of socio-economic systems. However, some of these materials will remain inside this socio-economic system for an extended period of time. This applies in particular to materials used in the built environment, machinery and equipment, and durable consumer goods (e.g. vehicles, electronics or furniture). These materials are referred to as the material stock, and the method to locate and quantify this stock is called Material Stock Analysis (MSA).

Material flows and stocks are intimately connected and for this reason this method is included in the Flows accounting methods. Most material flow methods define the changes in the material stock, either directly or indirectly, because this is equal to the difference between inflows and outflows. In the Eurostat (2001) EW-MFA method, the material accumulation (or Net Addition to Stock) is a clearly defined indicator, for instance, and there are a number of methodological rules defined around calculating the material stock. Because all material stocks ultimately leave the socio-economic system and end up being recycled or disposed of, there has to be a definition as to when to classify a material flow as a stock. Most studies use one year of permanency to be classified as a material stock, but exceptions can be made (Müller et al. 2014).

In order for a case study to be classified within this MSA method, it is important that not just the change in material stock is quantified, but instead the focus should be on the quantification of the total available stock within a city, either for a single year or for a longer period of time. MSA could focus on a single material like copper (Beers and Graedel 2003), or a particular sector like residential buildings (Condeixa, Haddad, and Boer 2017).

Information on the material stock is generally obtained using one of two approaches: bottom-up or top-down. In an in-depth review of construction material flows and stocks literature, Augiseau and Barles (2016) define these approaches as follows:

“The bottom-up approach is based on a division of the stock into categories (housing, business premises, etc.), and then by the application of material ratios or intensities (in tonnes/m 2 for example). (...) The top-down approach is to quantify stock as the sum of annual net additions to stock over a long period. Stocks are thus derived from the difference between inflows and outflows, calculated from year-to-year. These flows are known from statistical data (construction and demolition), or are estimated, based on average lifetimes or survival functions.”

Data availability often varies significantly between countries and cities, and most studies will select an approach depending on the available data. There is also no standard approach around forecasting (which is often an important component of the study). This makes it difficult to make comparisons between studies (Augiseau and Barles 2016).

MSA can, however, provide insights that MFA studies lack. This type of study can be very spatially explicit, especially when studying the built infrastructure. Furthermore, this method allows for the exploration of the potential for cities to serve as “urban mines”, in which the recovery of materials from existing stock can replace import of new materials. Such a study was undertaken recently on the city of Amsterdam, for instance (van der Voet et al. 2017). Another innovative approach is to study the available energy stock and to unpack what this means for the city’s resilience in light of possible energy supply shocks (Bristow and Kennedy 2013).



Title Type Author(s) Year
Lost Material Stock in Buildings due to Sea Level Rise from Global Warming: The Case of Fiji Islands Journal Article Merschroth et al. 2020
Capture and Control of Material Flows and Stocks in Urban Housing - Based on the Case Study of the Housing Industry in Munich-Freiham Thesis Matthias Arnold Heinrich 2019
Dynamic assessment of construction materials in urban building stocks – A critical review Journal Article Göswein et al. 2019
In-use Product and Steel Stocks Sustaining the Urbanization of Xiamen, China Journal Article Song et al. 2019
Residential building material stocks and component-level circularity: The case of Singapore Journal Article Arora et al. 2019
Spatial analysis of urban material stock with clustering algorithms: A Northern European case study Journal Article Gontia et al. 2019
Spatially explicit material stock analysis of buildings in Eastern China metropoles Journal Article Guo et al. 2019
Uncovering the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Urban Infrastructure Development: A High Spatial Resolution Material Stock and Flow Analysis Journal Article Han et al. 2018
Comparing the material stock of seven cities Conference Paper Athanassiadis et al. 2017
Embodied GHGs in a Fast Growing City: Looking at the Evolution of a Dwelling Stock using Structural Element Breakdown and Policy Scenarios: Embodied GHGs in a Fast Growing City Journal Article Göswein et al. 2017
Estimating the Potential for Urban Mining in Paris Region Conference Paper Vincent Augiseau Sabine Barles 2017
Material flow analysis of the residential building stock at the city of Rio de Janeiro Journal Article Condeixa et al. 2017
Prospecting the Urban Mine of Amsterdam Report Voet et al. 2017
Quantifying and mapping embodied environmental requirements of urban building stocks Journal Article Stephan and Athanassiadis 2017
Urbanisation processes as key for analysing construction materials flows and stocks: Paris Region case study Conference Paper Sabine Barles Vincent Augiseau 2017
Using Material and Energy Flow Analysis to Estimate Future Energy Demand at the City Level Journal Article Albelwi et al. 2017
GIS‐based Analysis of Vienna's Material Stock in Buildings Journal Article Kleemann et al. 2016
Modeling of material and energy flows in the Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy using urban metabolism approaches Conference Paper Igor Tereshchenko Gabriela Fernandez 2016
Towards more comprehensive urban environmental assessments: exploring the complex relationship between urban and metabolic profiles Thesis Aristide Athanassiadis 2016
The ferrous find: Counting iron and steel stocks in China's economy Journal Article Wang et al. 2015
Toward Social Material Flow Analysis: On the Usefulness of Boundary Objects in Urban Mining Research Journal Article Björn Wallsten 2015
An integrated material metabolism model for stocks of urban road system in Beijing, China Journal Article Guo et al. 2014
Estimates of Lost Material Stock of Buildings and Roads Due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Journal Article Tanikawa et al. 2014
Exploring urban mines: Pipe length and material stocks in urban water and wastewater networks Journal Article Pauliuk et al. 2014
An integrated material metabolism model for stocks of Urban road system in Beijing, China Journal Article Guo et al. 2013
Urban Metabolism and the Energy Stored in Cities Journal Article Christopher A. Kennedy David N. Bristow 2013
Caluculation of the in-use stock of materials in urban with nocturnal light image Conference Paper Matsuno et al. 2009
Combined MFA-LCA for Analysis of Wastewater Pipeline Networks Journal Article G. Venkatesh and Brattebø 2009
Global mapping of Al, Cu, Fe, and Zn in-use stocks and in-ground resources Journal Article J.N. Rauch 2009
Urban stock over time: spatial material stock analysis using 4d-GIS Journal Article Tanikawa and Hashimoto 2009
Exploration of Urban Stocks Journal Article Lichtensteiger and Baccini 2008
Copper In-Use Stock and Copper Scrap in the State of Connecticut, USA Report Rauch et al. 2007
Copper and zinc recycling in Australia: potential quantities and policy options Journal Article Beers et al. 2007
Metal capital sustaining a North American city: Iron and copper in New Haven, CT Journal Article Drakonakis et al. 2007
Spatial characterisation of multi-level in-use copper and zinc stocks in Australia Journal Article Beers and Graedel 2007
Stock dynamics for forecasting material flows—Case study for housing in The Netherlands Journal Article Daniel B. Müller 2006
The Application of Material Flow Analysis for the Evaluation of the Recovery Potential of Secondary Metals in Australia Conference Paper Beers et al. 2005
The Magnitude and Spatial Distribution of In-Use Zinc Stocks in Cape Town, South Africa Journal Article Beers and Graedel 2004
The Magnitude and Spatial Distribution of In-use Copper Stocks in Cape Town, South Africa Journal Article Van Beers and Graedel 2003
Escalating trends in the urban metabolism of Hong Kong: 1971-1997 Journal Article Warren-Rhodes and Koenig 2001
The metabolism of a city: the case of Hong Kong Journal Article Newcombe et al. 1978