Service sector metabolism: Accounting for energy impacts of the Montjuïc urban park in Barcelona

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This article evaluates, from an industrial ecology (IE) perspective, the energy performance of the services inside an urban system and determines their global environmental impact. Additionally, this study determines which are the most energy demanding services and the efficiency of their energy use per visitor and per surface area unit. The urban system under study is the Montjuïc urban park in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, which can be considered a services system. In this case study we distinguished the different patterns of consumption among the service fields and, by studying each field individually, found the most efficient facilities and identified the most critical services based on energy use per visitor or per square meter. These findings are based on the use of energy flow accounting (EFA), life-cycle assessment (LCA), and the energy footprint to analyze the Park's technical energy consumption. Electricity consumption represents nearly 70% of the total energy consumed by the services at Montjuïc Park. The forest surface area required to absorb the CO2-equivalent emissions produced by the life cycle of the energy consumed at Montjuïc Park represents 12.2 times the Park's surface area. We conclude this article by proposing the incorporation of the methods of IE within the study of parks containing multiple services to improve energy management, and as a result, to raise the global environmental performance of the service sector. © 2007 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • Energy footprint
  • Energy use
  • Industrial ecology
  • Integrated environmental assessment
  • Sustainable cities
  • Urban ecosystem


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