Summary: This synthesis article presents an overview of an urban metabolism (UM) approach using mixed methods and multiple sources of data for Los Angeles, California. We examine electric energy use in buildings and greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, and calculate embedded infrastructure life cycle effects, water use and solid waste streams in an attempt to better understand the urban flows and sinks in the Los Angeles region (city and county). This quantification is being conducted to help policy-makers better target energy conservation and efficiency programs, pinpoint best locations for distributed solar generation, and support the development of policies for greater environmental sustainability. It provides a framework to which many more UM flows can be added to create greater understanding of the study area's resource dependencies. Going forward, together with policy analysis, UM can help untangle the complex intertwined resource dependencies that cities must address as they attempt to increase their environmental sustainability.