It is suggested that MFAs can be more ‘diagnostic’ than EF analysis. at is, MFAs can trace wastes and imbalances in resource ows back to their causes – as well as total stocks or trends in consumption per capita or per area. So, for example, an MFA would show that household waste contributes a relatively small portion of total waste compared to upstream mining, extraction and production. A household EF would not oer this perspective. By tracking resource ows through the bioregion, audits could help us to nd new ways to close, eliminate or reverse resource loops. ey could help to link the design of cities, buildings and infrastructure with the wider urban, regional and natural environment and resource base.1 EF studies tend to capture broad trends in average consumption (eg by income or family size), but conceal who benets and who loses from existing patterns of land-use and resource allocation. But MFAs can also be myopic in terms of ethics and distributional justice, of course. When MFAs only examine stocks and ows of materials and energy, they can conceal the transfer of control over land and resources: the ‘means of survival’. Like EF analysis, they do not indicate who wins and who loses over time. In other words, ows analyses, like input-output
analyses, can be applied in a linear-reductionist framework. We will therefore look at how MFAs can be applied in a more positive, proactive and ethics-based design framework to generate positive impacts and increase environmental ows [Box 31].