Ecological Engineering

Ecological engineering design will combine systems ecology with the process of engineering design. Engineering design typically involves problem formulation (goal), problem analysis (constraints), alternative solutions search, decision among alternatives, and specification of a complete solution. A temporal design framework is provided by Matlock et al., stating the design solutions are considered in ecological time. In selecting between alternatives, the design should incorporate ecological economics in design evaluation and acknowledge a guiding value system which promotes biological conservation, benefiting society and nature. Ecological engineering utilizes systems ecology with engineering design to obtain a holistic view of the interactions within and between society and nature. Ecosystem simulation with Energy Systems Language (also known as energy circuit language or energies) by Howard Odum is one illustration of this systems ecology approach. This holistic model development and simulation defines the system of interest, identifies the system's boundary, and diagrams how energy and material moves into, within, and out of, a system in order to identify how to use renewable resources through ecosystem processes and increase sustainability. The system it describes is a collection (i.e., group) of components (i.e., parts), connected by some type of interaction or interrelationship, that collectively responds to some stimulus or demand and fulfills some specific purpose or function. By understanding systems ecology the ecological engineer can more efficiently design with ecosystem components and processes within the design, utilize renewable energy and resources, and increase sustainability.