Beyond GDP pp 47-78 | Cite as

Stocks and Flows of Materials

  • Matthew Kuperus Heun
  • Michael Dale
  • Becky Roselius Haney
Part of the Lecture Notes in Energy book series (LNEN, volume 26)


The first step in understanding the economic metabolism is to account for the flow of materials through the economy and the exchange of materials with the biosphere. In this chapter, we develop a framework for accounting material flows and accumulation within economies. We begin by considering accounting in everyday life and continue with concepts from thermodynamics, such as system boundaries, control volumes, and the First Law of Thermodynamics, to develop a rigorous accounting framework. The framework is applied first to a one-sector then two-sector model of the economy as we construct a general framework for material accounting. We then apply the framework to the real-world example of the US auto industry.


Control Volume Capital Stock Material Flow Economic Sector Capital Good 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Kuperus Heun
    • 1
  • Michael Dale
    • 2
  • Becky Roselius Haney
    • 3
  1. 1.Engineering Department, Calvin CollegeGrand RapidsMichiganUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences DepartmentClemson University, ClemsonSouth CarolinaUSA
  3. 3.Economics Department, Calvin CollegeGrand RapidsMIUSA

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