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Keywords:

  • disaggregation;
  • European Union;
  • industrial ecology;
  • material flow analysis (MFA);
  • resource management;
  • urban planning

Summary

This article describes a new methodological framework to account for urban material flows and stocks, using material flow accounting (MFA) as the underlying method. The proposed model, urban metabolism analyst (UMAn), bridges seven major gaps in previous urban metabolism studies: lack of a unified methodology; lack of material flows data at the urban level; limited categorizations of material types; limited results about material flows as they are related to economic activities; limited understanding of the origin and destination of flows; lack of understanding about the dynamics of added stock; and lack of knowledge about the magnitude of the flow of materials that are imported and then, to a great extent, exported.

To explore and validate the UMAn model, a case study of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area was used. An annual time series of material flows from 2003 to 2009 is disaggregated by the model into 28 material types, 55 economic activity categories, and 18 municipalities. Additionally, an annual projection of the obsolescence of materials for 2010–2050 was performed. The results of the case study validate the proposed methodology, which broadens the contribution of existing urban MFA studies and presents pioneering information in the field of urban metabolism. In particular, the model associates material flows with economic activities and their spatial location within the urban area.