Emergy Analysis

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Emergy analysis is an energy-based approach that quantifies emergy, which is the total energy required to produce a product or material flow, through all processes and transformations that may be involved and also known as embodied energy. Total energy is reported in a single, consistent unit – Emergy Joule. This approach allows for quantification of all of the embedded energy of products.

The use of emergy was first described by Odum (1996). Uptake of this method at an urban level has been limited, and most of the case studies are geographically bound to Asia, with the majority of the work being undertaken in Chinese cities.

The term emergy synthesis is also used to describe the use of a series of indices to understand the observed emergy patterns. “Emergy synthesis combines principles from general systems theory, thermodynamics, and systems ecology to account for the total environmental resources contributed for the generation of a product or a service” (Odum 1988 in Huang and Chen 2009, 78). Sometimes this kind of work is called an emergy evaluation. In this report, all of this work will be grouped under the single term emergy analysis.

In order to provide environmental impact insights, a number of hybrid approaches (e.g. MFA-Emergy and Emergy-LCA) have been introduced.


Title Type Author(s) Year
Development of an urban FEW nexus online analyzer to support urban circular economy strategy planning Journal Article Xue et al. 2018
Comprehensive evaluation on industrial & urban symbiosis by combining MFA, carbon footprint and emergy methods—Case of Kawasaki, Japan Journal Article Ohnishi et al. 2017
Urban Metabolism for Resource-Efficient Cities: from Theory to Implementation Report Musango et al. 2017
Emergy Synthesis for Three Main Industries in Wuyishan City, China Journal Article Yang et al. 2015
Mass, energy, and emergy analysis of the metabolism of Macao Journal Article Lei et al. 2015
Urban metabolism based on emergy and slack based model: A case study of Beijing, China Journal Article Song et al. 2015
Evaluating spatiotemporal differences and sustainability of Xiamen urban metabolism using emergy synthesis Journal Article Yang et al. 2014
The urban metabolism of the city of Uppsala (Sweden) Journal Article Russo et al. 2014
An emergy analysis for urban environmental sustainability assessment, the Island of Montreal, Canada Journal Article Vega-Azamar et al. 2013
Analysis of the indicators between urban metabolism and land use change in Guangzhou Journal Article WU Yu-qin and WU Yu-qin 2011
Emergy analysis of the urban metabolism of Beijing Journal Article Zhang et al. 2011
Evaluation of urban metabolism based on emergy synthesis: A case study for Beijing (China) Journal Article Zhang et al. 2009
Urban ecosystem health assessment based on emergy and set pair analysis—A comparative study of typical Chinese cities Journal Article Su et al. 2009
Urbanization and Socioeconomic Metabolism in Taipei Journal Article Huang and Chen 2009
Emergy synthesis and simulation for Macao Journal Article Lei and Wang 2008
Theory of urban energetics and mechanisms of urban development Journal Article Huang and Chen 2005
Materials Flow Analysis and Emergy Evaluation of Taipei's Urban Construction Journal Article Huang and Hsu 2003
Energy-economic theory and mathematical models for combining the systems of man and nature, case study: The urban region of Miami, Florida Journal Article James Zucchetto 1975