Introduction: The total weight of human activity
Since 1998, the Tanikawa Laboratory in Nagoya University is estimating and evaluating the weight of human activity, and particularly attempting to elucidate how much material has been used in industrial processes. The physical weight of industrial life is reflected in buildings, roads, cars, furniture and other durable materials which provide crucial services to our society. This is the material stock of Society, which requires constant inflows of material from the Environment, and produces outflow wastes as well. Reducing the accumulated weight and improving the efficiency of the stock we already have are vital to achieving a more sustainable society.
Just like living creatures' metabolism, human society consumes materials from the environment and eventually discharges them back as wastes and emissions. Using this body analogy, societies can be said to have social metabolic profiles based on the amounts of inflows, outflows and the efficiency of the usage of materials. The Tanikawa Laboratory focuses on Multi-scale Material Stock Analysis with regard to heavy anthropogenic disturbance, on the national, regional, and city scales.
City Scale Analysis
City-scale material stock analysis is especially relevant to our everyday lives. Through this research, people can see how much material supports their lives, and city planners can recognize which areas have bigger metabolism.
The Tanikawa Lab has been using 4D-GIS (four dimensional geographical information systems) to analyse material stocks and local metabolism (for example, Tanikawa and Hashimoto, 2009). This study clarified material accumulation by vertical location, such as above and below ground, from the viewpoint of recyclability. By estimating the demolition curve, the life span of buildings in an urban area was found to be shorter than the national averages in both Japan and the UK. This paper also showed that in the Wakayama City centre in Japan in 2004, 47% of total construction material was stocked in underground infrastructure.
Regional, National, and Global scale Analysis
On the national scale, decision makers require economy-wide material stock accounts in order to understand past trends of material stock development and to plan for the future. Our lab measures and creates models and scenarios of material accumulation (such as Fishman et al. 2014) in search of the great question: can countries reach material stock saturation, a sustainable state in which economic development is de-coupled from physical development?
On the other hand, developing countries need to consume more materials to keep improving their citizens' quality of life. This is leading to increased energy and material flows, and GHG emissions. Material stock analyses are also being performed for developing countries, especially China (for example Feng Shi et al. 2012). The Tanikawa Lab evaluates possibilities for ‘dematerialization’ and ‘decarbonization’ in developing countries. The researchers forecast future steel and cement demand and related resource consumption and CO2 emissions for building and transportation infrastructure, based on a material flow analysis of China. In the picture: the material stock of infrastructure in Nagoya and Aichi prefecture.
Disaster planning and management
Material stock and flow analysis is also useful for understanding disasters which seriously damage cities, such as the earthquake that occurred on 11 March 2011 in Japan (see Tanikawa et al. 2014). Material stock estimates include volumes of accumulated materials in cities, so material stocks in damaged areas are similar to the volume of rubble which would need treatment and transfer. These amounts of material stocks in damaged areas also indicate the quantities of material necessary to reconstruct the affected areas, to enable a return to previous levels of local human activity. In the picture: a simulation of inundation of buildings by tsunami, modeled using ArcGIS and viewed in Google Earth.
- Investigate the critical issues at the meeting point of society, engineering, economics, and environment: industrial ecology.
- Groundbreaking research using methods such as remote sensing, statistical modeling, systems dynamics, input-output (IO), human time.
- Collaborations with other leading experts and institutions in Japan and abroad.
- Our members participate in many domestic and international conferences and workshops every year, in oral presentations, poster sessions, and panels.
- Our master and doctor students are eligible to take part in the Nagoya University Global Environmental Leaders Program (NUGELP).
- Internship options in institutes and companies.
- and much much more!
(adapted and updated from the ISIE-SEM News site)
Ongoing Research Projects:
- Evaluation of Low Carbon City Policy, 2008-10 - funded by the Ministry of Environment
- LCS Proj > Supply and Demand of Resources and Low Carbon Development in Asia-Pacific Region - funded by the Ministry of Environment, 2009-13
- Material Stock Accounting overtime for city region, 2009-12 - funded by the Ministry of Science and Tech
- Human time and resource productivity, 2008-11 - funded by the Ministry of Science and Tech
- Sustainable sound material cycle region, 2010-12 - funded by the Ministry of Environment
- Estimation of material stock with DMSP/OLS satellite images - funded by the Ministry of Science and Tech, 2010-12
Prospective researchers and students
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