About The Ecological Footprint

The Ecological Footprint calculates humanities demand on nature and communicates it tangibly in terms of hectares per person (or Planets) – giving an understanding of how much we have, how much we use, and who uses what.

The method was developed in the 1980’s with its origins in the question of how many people can the earth support at a given  level of consumption. Ideally, global resources would be used at a sustainable rate enabling humanity to live well within the means of One Planet. Turning resources into waste faster than waste can be turned back into resources drives global ecological overshoot, which means depleting the resources on which human life and biodiversity depend.


Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year. Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us each year against a fixed supply of one.

To achieve a sustainable state individuals and institutions must begin to plan in recognition of ecological limits. This means investing in technology and infrastructure that will allow us to operate in a resource-constrained world. It means taking individual action, and creating the public demand for businesses and policy makers to participate.

Using tools like the Ecological Footprint to support decision making is essential for success and understanding how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what is the first step, that will allow us to track our progress as we work toward our goal of sustainable, one-planet living.

The Ecological Footprint is an objective methodology used to quantify and report impacts of economies, businesses, buildings and their individual products. It is based on International Footprint and Life Cycle Assessment Standards providing confidence in its validity and robustness. It is not a rating scheme – rather, it provides quantitative estimates of life cycle impact associated with land use; materials; transportation; energy and water use.

It is used by a broad variety of governments, businesses and organisations interested in understanding the factual basis of their policies, buildings, fitout, operations and products. The capital formation and operation of the built environment accounts for up to 40% of total consumption, as such it is essential that we understand the impacts to enable informed decision making about design and consumption choices.