What does an Industrial Ecologist do?

Apply principles and processes of natural ecosystems to develop models for efficient industrial systems. Use knowledge from the physical and social sciences to maximize effective use of natural resources in the production and use of goods and services. Examine societal issues and their relationship with both technical systems and the environment.

Jobs Roles

  • Investigate accidents affecting the environment to assess ecological impact.
  • Investigate the adaptability of various animal and plant species to changed environmental conditions.
  • Review industrial practices, such as the methods and materials used in construction or production, to identify potential liabilities and environmental hazards.
  • Research sources of pollution to determine environmental impact or to develop methods of pollution abatement or control.
  • Provide industrial managers with technical materials on environmental issues, regulatory guidelines, or compliance actions.
  • Plan or conduct studies of the ecological implications of historic or projected changes in industrial processes or development.
  • Plan or conduct field research on topics such as industrial production, industrial ecology, population ecology, and environmental production or sustainability.
  • Monitor the environmental impact of development activities, pollution, or land degradation.
  • Identify or develop strategies or methods to minimize the environmental impact of industrial production processes.
  • Investigate the impact of changed land management or land use practices on ecosystems.
  • Develop or test protocols to monitor ecosystem components and ecological processes.
  • Create complex and dynamic mathematical models of population, community, or ecological systems.
  • Conduct scientific protection, mitigation, or restoration projects to prevent resource damage, maintain the integrity of critical habitats, and minimize the impact of human activities.
  • Carry out environmental assessments in accordance with applicable standards, regulations, or laws.
  • Build and maintain databases of information about energy alternatives, pollutants, natural environments, industrial processes, and other information related to ecological change.
  • Forecast future status or condition of ecosystems, based on changing industrial practices or environmental conditions.
  • Conduct applied research on the effects of industrial processes on the protection, restoration, inventory, monitoring, or reintroduction of species to the natural environment.
  • Recommend methods to protect the environment or minimize environmental damage from industrial production practices.
  • Develop alternative energy investment scenarios to compare economic and environmental costs and benefits.
  • Analyze changes designed to improve the environmental performance of complex systems to avoid unintended negative consequences.
  • Apply new or existing research about natural ecosystems to understand economic and industrial systems in the context of the environment.
  • Conduct analyses to determine the maximum amount of work that can be accomplished for a given amount of energy in a system, such as industrial production systems and waste treatment systems.
  • Conduct environmental sustainability assessments, using material flow analysis (MFA) or substance flow analysis (SFA) techniques.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of industrial ecology programs using statistical analysis and applications.
  • Examine local, regional or global use and flow of materials or energy in industrial production processes.
  • Examine societal issues and their relationship with both technical systems and the environment.
  • Identify environmental impacts caused by products, systems, or projects.
  • Identify or compare the component parts or relationships between the parts of industrial, social, and natural systems.
  • Identify sustainable alternatives to industrial or waste management practices.
  • Perform analyses to determine how human behavior can affect and be affected by changes in the environment.
  • Perform environmentally extended input-output (EE I-O) analyses.
  • Prepare plans to manage renewable resources.
  • Prepare technical and research reports such as environmental impact reports, and communicate the results to individuals in industry, government, or the general public.
  • Promote use of environmental management systems (EMS) to reduce waste or to improve environmentally sound use of natural resources.
  • Redesign linear, or open loop, systems into cyclical, or closed loop, systems so that waste products become inputs for new processes, modeling natural ecosystems.
  • Research environmental effects of land and water used to determine methods of improving environmental conditions or increasing outputs such as crop yields.
  • Review research literature to maintain knowledge on topics related to industrial ecology, such as physical science, technology, economy, and public policy.
  • Translate the theories of industrial ecology into eco-industrial practices.
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