Environmental and sustainability assessments

Knowledge areas: industrial ecology, economic analysis and society.

Environmental and sustainability assessments should help us to quantify and understand the actual impact on nature, on society and the economy, as well as the room for maneuver we have for human development based on available resources and nature's ability to absorb pollutants.

The core in this research area is ‘industrial ecology’, which makes use of material flow analysis, life cycle assessment, input output analysis and systems thinking to inform solutions in production and consumption systems aiming for minimized environmental footprints.

This includes development and applications of models, indicators, methods and strategies for realizing future green shifts on different levels in society (national, regional, city, company, product value chain and individual).

Such green shifts will cover new technologies, solutions and behaviour in different sectors such as energy, manufacturing, metal production, transport, marine and maritime activities, waste management and recycling, etc.

Analytical methods used today are further developed by integration of knowledge on economy, natural resources and biodiversity, as well as the need for addressing and balancing diverse values and interests with the use of multi-criteria decision-support tools.

Environmental and sustainability assessments are strengthened through development of ICT-based modelling, automated data collection, processing and dissemination.


Research questions

  • How can we develop robust methods to correctly calculate and compare the environmental impact of different human activities?

  • What is a sustainable lifestyle?

  • How do analyses at the micro level (company level) connect to analyses at a meso- (region/large project) and macro level (society)?

  • How can we connect knowledge about the effects land use and changes in land use have on biodiversity, with other environmental impact assessments? 


Previous and ongoing projects

EPISCOPE

Energy Performance Indicator Tracking Schemes for the Continuous Optimisation of Refurbishment Processes in European Housing Stocks (EPISCOPE) aims to contribute to the continuous process of target-oriented building stock refurbishment. The focus is on building typologies, building stock monitoring and scenario analyses.

  • Funding period: 2013 - 2016

  • Main methods in IndEcol's research part: Definition of road element typologies. Inventory analysis. LCA model development.

  • Main objectives of IndEcol's research part: Develop a new set of residential building typologies for Norway, with energy performance datasets, and carry out scenarios to analyse the effects of energy refurbishment scenarios towards 2040.

  • Funding Source: EU, Intelligent Energy Europe

  • Research partners: Institut Wohnen und Umwelt (DE), plus 15 other European partners

  • Project leader: Helge Brattebø

 

SURE

Towards sustainable renewable energy production: Developing a Life Cycle
Impact Assessment framework for biodiversity impacts. SURE aims to develop robust methods for assessing adverse environmental impacts on biodiversity from (1) onshore wind power production and (2) hydropower production, within the framework of Life Cycle
Impact assessment (LCIA).

  • Funding period: 2015 - 2019

  • Main methods in IndEcol's research part: Life cycle impact assessment, case studies 

  • Funding Source: Norwegian Research Council

  • Research partners: NINA, Statkraft

  • Project leader: Francesca Verones

PRINCE

Policy-Relevant Indicators for National Consumption and Environment (PRINCE). The main object for this project is to stimulate innovative European and international climate policies and services due to improved shared knowledge base on consumption emissions. To realize a more effective policy mix for achieving the objectives of the EU Climate and Energy package and the Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon-economy in 2050.

  • Funding period: 2015 - 2018

  • Main methods in IndEcol's research part: 

  • Main ocjectives of IndEcol's research part

  • Funding Source: Swedish EPA

  • Research partners: EU FP7

  • Project leader: Richard Wood

 

Multi-Regional input-output analysis

Development of a global model and EXIOBASE database of resource use, production, trade, consumption and associated environmental impact through the EU FP6 and FP7 projects. EXIOPOL, OPEN:EU, CREEA and DESIRE Groups have provided a strategic position that can be used in many contexts in order to analyze several issues related to resource use and emissions and global value chains. The method is now used for the development of indicators for sustainable resources for the EU and the analyses of consumption-based climate targets and climate toll.

Scenario-based sustainability assessment

Development of methods and THEMIS model for assessing sustainability impacts of large-scale penetration of new technologies through the integration of technological descriptions of technologies in the global economy and scenario analysis. Used to test the combined effect of several measures. Funded through FMR Cense linkage of the ESBL project and the EU FP7 project PROSUITE. Application for UN Resource Panel and Panel on Climate Change.

Life cycle analysis – method development

Development of life-cycle analysis equipment ARDA and an associated database. Development of methods for climate impact of albedo (reflected sunlight)-changes, carbon-cycle impacts of bioenergy and environmental assessment of offshore operations. Development of LCA tools for the environmental evaluation of alternative designs of motor way bridges. (ETSI Nordic project, Licca Eran Road project). Development of metabolic models for resource efficiency and sustainability analysis of Villages VA systems (EU FP7 project TRUST). Developing typologies of housing stock and dynamic models for energy consumption as a result of the rehabilitation of housing stock (Intelligent Energy Europe project EPISCOPE).

Life cycle analysis

Application to buildings and infrastructure, energy, transport, food production, furniture and vessels. Development of environmental product declaration and contribution rules for public procurement. Financing several projects (NRC, CenBio, cendre-EcoManage, business-oriented projects).

Environmental management in the maritime sector, through a variety of RCN projects, for example. Decision to support sustainable production of offshore ships in fluctuating global markets; Innovation in Global Maritime Production 2020 LCA for ship equipment.