Emergy Accounting Summer School

International School on Emergy Accounting, Venice Italy, 17-21 June 2013

The International School on Emergy Accounting is organized by the Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems together with the Department of Economics of Ca’ Foscari University, and in collaboration with Parthenope University of Naples. Aimed at building unifying perspectives for effective analysis of complex systems through the concept of Emergy, it is open to PhD and postdoctoral students. In particular, it will focus on the potential of emergy accounting in problems related to sustainability, offering a unique opportunity to merge scientific and economic aspects within research.


  • Francesco Gonella, Dept of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, Ca’ Foscari University, Italy
  • Sergio Ulgiati, Dept of Environmental Sciences, Parthenope University, Naples, Italy

Main lecturers:

  • Mark T. Brown, Dept of Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
  • Sergio Ulgiati, Dept of Environmental Sciences, Parthenope University, Naples, Italy


Course Outline

Five day workshop stressing emergy concepts, theory, and principles. Each day is composed of 4 sessions, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. One or two sessions each day is devoted to a case study that includes “hands-on” computation of emergy or simulation of models to reinforce lecture material and extend understanding of systems concepts.

Day 1 – What are Energy, Emergy, Exergy? Primary, secondary and tertiary global renewable sources

  • Morning 1 – Systems and Systems Diagrams Systems concepts
  • Introduction to energy systems diagramming language
  • Quantitative diagramming and picture mathematics
  • Morning 2 – Emergy & Exergy
  • Introduction to emergy, transformity, specific emergy, Maximum Empower Principles, hierarchical organization
  • Introduction to Exergy, quality, exergoecology,
  • thermoecological costs, extended exergy analysis
  • Afternoon 3 – Computation of primary, secondary and tertiary global renewable sources
  • Global webs, material cycles, & biogeochemistry
  • Afternoon 4 – Case Study: Computing energy and UEV’s of global renewable flows

Day 2 – Concepts of Emergy Accounting

  • Morning 5 – Static Emergy Accounting Emergy algebra
  • Emergy evaluation procedure
  • Static calculation
  • Morning 6. Case study
  • Emergy Evaluation of system yielding UEV
  • Afternoon 7 – Case Study continued
  • Afternoon 8 – Dynamic Emergy Accounting
  • Simulation of emergy
  • Network analysis of emergy

Day 3 – Emergy systems concepts

  • Morning 9 – Emergy and ecosystems
  • Emergy signatures, Food chains
  • Biodiversity
  • Restoration
  • Morning 10 – Emergy and human dominated systems
  • Emergy, economy and money
  • Emergy evaluation of nations (NEAD)
  • Emergy and trade/trade equity
  • Afternoon 11 – Case Study – Exercises with NEAD
  • Afternoon 12 – Case Study/ discussion session

Day 4 – Applications of Emergy methodology

  • Morning 13 – Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Marine Oil Spills
  • Power plant and estuarine cooling
  • Phosphate mining restoration
  • Morning 14 – Case Study- Emergy evaluation of marine/estuarine ecosystems
  • Afternoon 15 – Emergy Evaluation of Energy Alternatives
  • Nonrenewable energy sources
  • Net emergy
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Afternoon 16 – Case Study – Emergy evaluation of biofuels

Day 5 – Simulation of macroscopic mini-models of humanity and nature

  • Morning 17 – Combined models of humanity and nature
  • Simple growth models
  • Production/Respiration
  • Limiting factors
  • Morning 18 – Simulation exercises
  • Afternoon 19 – Models with economic and energy constraints
  • Population models
  • Ecosystem models
  • Afternoon 20 – Simulation exercise – national sustainability
How emergy adds up? From MT Brown's slides.
How emergy adds up (Dr. Mark Brown)