The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

, Volume 18, Issue 8, pp 1524-1532

First online:

Life cycle energy and environmental benefits of a US industrial symbiosis

  • Matthew J. EckelmanAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Northeastern University Email author 
  • , Marian R. ChertowAffiliated withCenter for Industrial Ecology, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

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The industrial ecosystem identified in and around the Campbell Industrial Park in Honolulu County, Hawai’i involves 11 facilities exchanging water, materials, and energy across an industrial cluster. This paper highlights the advantages of this arrangement using life cycle assessment to determine the energy and environmental costs and benefits of the existing pattern of exchanges.


A consequential approach was used to evaluate each material substitution for four environmental impact categories: primary energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, acidification, and eutrophication. Each material exchange included avoided production and reduced use of virgin materials, any necessary pre-processing or transportation of local by-products, and avoided treatment or disposal of these by-products.

Results and discussion

All exchanges exhibited positive net savings across all environmental impact categories, with the exceptions of waste oil and tire-derived fuel burned as substitutes for coal. The greatest savings occur as a result of sharing steam between a combined cycle fuel oil-fired cogeneration plant and a nearby refinery. In total, the environmental savings realized by this industrial cluster are significant, equivalent to 25 % of the state’s policy goal for reducing the industrial component of GHG emissions over the next decade. The role of policy in supporting material and energy exchanges is also discussed as the central cluster of two power plants and two refineries share steam and water in part under regulatory requirements.


The results show environmental benefits of the sharing of by-product resources accrued on a life cycle basis, while for the local context, the reduction of imported fuels and materials helps to reduce the external dependency of Oahu’s remote island economy. The environmental benefits of materials exchanges are often ignored in energy policy, though, as in this case, they can represent considerable savings.


By-product exchange Environmental co-benefits Hawaii Industrial ecology Industrial symbiosis Life cycle assessment