sustainability tools and techniques

EPA has decades of experience in applying risk-assessment and risk-management decision tools to a variety of public-health and environmental challenges. At a minimum, this means that the forecasted premises needs to be made explicit and the uncertainty of the forecast also needs to be explicit because the robustness of the sustainability assessment will depend on the degree of uncertainty of the forecast. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. The corporate sector has also developed indicators and metrics for sustainable performance (Székely and Knirsch 2005). 2009. Scenarios for global biodiversity in the 21st century. Integration into decision making involves summarizing the major results of the assessment in terms of a trade-off and synergy analysis that highlights impacts on important social, environmental, and economic objectives (Box 4-1). Although EPA has been. London: Earthscan. • Many such innovations have emerged through the application of information technology that enables cost-effective analysis of individual problems and their linkage to interconnected systems of problems (for example, climate–water–food challenges) or the application of “traceability” methods that enable the tracking and tracing of pollutants or material flows among multiple participants in the economy (such as suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers). 2005. These tools can provide insight into resource use, benchmark performance against peers, create sustainability … tools, techniques and approaches for sustainability: … Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book. 4For a more extensive discussion of the cradle-to-cradle concept and its applications, see McDonough and Braungart 2002. components, major automotive manufacturers, engine manufacturers, agricultural interests, state and local government officials, and environmental organizations. The suite of tools should include dynamic analysis that analyzes the consequences of alternative options through time (intergenerational component). Science and an EPA mission statement. Public Policy and Program Evaluation. Uncertainty and sensitivity analysis will be required. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 2007. Sustainability has evolved from an aspiration to a growing body of practices. One of the critical future challenges to both EPA and the private sector will be the need to increase the scale of its environmental and quality-of-life improvements. There is a significant literature on program evaluation, including methods for measuring program performance, including but not limited to Cronbach 1980, Chelimsky 1997, Vedung 1997, Stufflebeam 2001, and Posner 2004. Instead, practices and guidelines could be changed so that over time the outcomes are more in line with agency sustainability goals. Such tools can provide a uniform and transparent basis on which to evaluate alternatives. A Note on Rising Food Prices: Policy Research Working Paper 4682. EPA was charged with the responsibility to promulgate regulations by 1995 that would result in cleaner fuels by reducing volatile organic compounds and other air toxics. 2002. 43(20):7626-7634. Cellulosic Ethanol. Nordhaus, W. 2007. A judgment is made on whether there are moderate impacts and potential conflicts between at least two of the pillars (OECD 2010). No single institution or group has the capability to design an effective solution to reduce or eliminate the landfilling of such residua. NRC (National Research Council). Environmental, social, and monetary effects are significant mainstays of sustainability … Further developing EPA’s role as a convener would have several advantages, including. 1999. Other challenges with applying life-cycle analysis in a sustainability context involve decisions on where to set system boundaries and what to assume about future technologies. To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter. Runge, C.F., and B. Senauer. The agency may wish to consider, at the regional and headquarters levels, regularly producing a sustainability report utilizing widely recognized indicators (such as the “Global Reporting Initiative”2). Ecosystem services are goods and services that contribute to human well-being and are generated by ecosystem processes. The purpose of environmental assessment is to ensure full consideration of environmental impacts and alternatives, with the understanding that such consideration will ordinarily (but not necessarily) reduce the environmental impact of the decision. Available: [accessed June 1, 2011.]. The levels of information gathering. However, Pereira et al. A matching of the assessment process to meet the needs of the decision is often recommended as a way to improve the decision-making process (NRC 1996, 2007; IOM 2009). On the other hand, almost all policy actions are premised on assumptions about future conditions. Life-cycle assessments require a large amount of data on necessary inputs, outputs, and various types of environmental emissions of processes. GRI (Global Reporting Initiative). EPA may not be the lead federal agency but may be a collaborator, perhaps having an important role in articulating the health and environmental impacts. Thus, such assessments could readily miss sustainability concerns not typically considered in past environmental assessments, including social and economic issues and environmental justice (p.58-59). 2EPA’s Common Sense Initiative and Project XL were prominent examples of these types of initiatives in the 1990s. By becoming a greater catalyst for transformational transparency, EPA can unlock new opportunities for innovation in the application of publicly available information and for developing methods applicable to its own and stakeholders’ needs. The authors noted that to better inform policy, “scenarios must move beyond illustrating the potential impacts of global change on biodiversity toward more integrated approaches that account for the feedbacks that link environmental drivers, biodiversity, ecosystems services, and socioeconomic dynamics” (Pereira et al. Extending EPA’s role in data management and synthesis to aid the investment community, to fill information gaps in the commercial economy, and to monitor and identify problems and trends, many of which emerge in a nonregulatory context. 1EPA’s Science Advisory Board provided further guidance to EPA in using risk-based decision-making in its report Reducing Risk: Setting Priorities and Strategies for Environmental Protection (EPASAB 1990). For example, attempts to reduce or eliminate the disposal of residua in landfills depend increasingly on collaboration among a variety of important economic decision-makers, including providers of raw materials, packaging companies, and producers, retailers, and consumers of manufactured goods. Other agencies have adopted the IRIS concept to implement their missions. Where this is impossible, the trade-offs should be clearly indicated to guide decision makers” (OECD 2010). The distinctions made in administration of the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) provide an example of adjusting the depth of the analysis to the scale of the problem. 1 The Michigan Environmental Indicators Act (P.A. Developing a Cradle-to-Cradle Approach to Assessing Materials Management4. 3Examples of such reports include City of New York 2014; IPCC 2014; World Economic Forum 2014. agencies and private-sector organizations need not only to revise policy frameworks but to recast their own institutional capabilities, resilience, and assessment and implementation tools in a clear and predictable manner that is consistent with their missions and responsibilities. Health Aff. Commercial viability: Biofuel production has been assisted by generous tax credits to refiners, currently $0.45 per gallon for corn ethanol and $1.01 per gallon for cellulosic ethanol, to make it commercially viable (PEW 2009). This chapter describes the steps involved in this approach, beginning with a screening evaluation to determine whether to conduct the S… Integrated assessment models, such as the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), arose in the study of climate change, bringing together global circulation models and economic models to assess the probable benefits and costs of alternative energy- and climate-policy choices (Hannam et al. The aim is to develop “win-win” situations where mutually-reinforcing gains can strengthen the economic base, ensure equitable living conditions, and protect and enhance the environment. To be successful, the overall sustainability process will probably involve a high degree of collaboration, including federal partners, state and local governments, as well as the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders (NRC 1996, IOM 2009). Scenarios for Global Biodiversity. It is desirable to have relatively transparent methods that can be easily explained and where the results of the analysis can be effectively communicated to decision makers. 19, 2011]. 2009. Concerned about the large-scale effects of climate change, scarcities of natural resources and food, loss of biodiversity, and other planetary-scale effects, many of the leading NGOs have entered into more collaborative relationships with leading global companies. tools, techniques and approaches for sustainability: collected writings in environmental assessment policy and management [sheate, william r] on 4.4. Sustainability impact assessment is modeled on, but different from, environmental impact assessment, which was pioneered in the United States through the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and. The law also requires EPA to report to Congress every three years on the impact of biofuel production on the air, water, and soil quality; ecosystem health and biodiversity, and invasive and noxious plants. Key Recommendation: EPA should develop a “sustainability toolbox” that includes a suite of tools for use in the Sustainability Assessment and Management approach. (See Recommendations 7b-7f). EPA SAB (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board). There are substantial environmental sustainability challenges along a number of important value chains. Pp. The goal of a cumulative risk assessment in a community setting is to fully account for the combined effects of multiple exposures—chemical, biologic, psychosocial, and physical—on a community, a goal that cannot be achieved using standard risk assessment methodology (IOM 2009). Biomass … Chapter 5 contains a more detailed discussion of risk assessment. Turner, A.D. Jones, M. O’Hare, and D.M. EPA. This process of dialogue has reached the point where they are developing common solutions and advocating similar agendas for resolving global, regional, national, and local issues. That approach is similar to that used in the private sector, in which sustainability strategies and initiatives have been designed and implemented on the basis of an original structure of environmental, health, and safety policies and management systems. This goal has resulted in a call for simple tools to adequately address community concerns in evaluating community status with respect to environmental justice. Still, integrated assessment models will often be needed to understand the relationships among the social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability in the context of a particular decision. In the dose response step, the level of exposure such as dose or air concentration is related to the level of adverse effect, such as the incidence of a health effect from an environmental exposure. There are examples of screening tools used by other governments and the private sector, but EPA will probably need to develop its own set of screening tools. Hill, J., S. Polasky, E. Nelson, D. Tilman, H. Huo, L. Ludwig, J. Neumann, H. Zheng, and D. Bonta. Assessing impacts across generations can complicate the quantification of an indicator and introduce additional uncertainty. approach has as a component the identification of stakeholders interested in a particular program or action during the scoping process after a decision has been made to perform some level of sustainability assessment. de Groot, R.S., M.A. A growing number of major sustainability challenges transcend specific environmental media or markets. Science and Judgment in Risk Assessment. Of particular concern for sustainability analysis is the weighting (discounting) of benefits and costs that accrue to future generations compared with those that accrue to the current generation (intergenerational equity). Schwartz, P. 1991. Valuing Ecosystem Services: Towards Better Environmental Decision-Making. 2 The GRI is a “network-based organization that pioneered the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework. You're looking at OpenBook,'s online reading room since 1999. Health Perspect. Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available. Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Environ. • Planning and scoping that address all major sources of a problem. Székely, F., and M. Knirsch. 106(6):2077-2082. 324.2521. An important early step in the process is to identify alternative decisions that could be made (options identification) and to scope the important social (including health), environmental, and economic pillars that could be potentially affected by the decision. The agency’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) is an international resource for business, government, and the public to gain access to information on individual chemical profiles as a basis for regulatory policy decisions, discussions of community risks, and risk-management decisions taken by individual companies and consumers. in future generations. 53- 58 in The New “Public”: The Globalization of Public Participation, C. Bruch, ed. Six Sigma Tools Useful for Sustainability In terms of specific tools for use in sustainable projects, the EPA offers examples that include the following. • provide integrative, sustainability-centred guidance, methods and tools to help meet the key practical demands of assessment work, including identifying key cross-cutting issues and linkages … Scenarios are useful in situations of great complexity and uncertainty, as is the case in global assessment of complex systems. Finding: Screening is often used in other OECD countries prior to undertaking full sustainability assessments; criteria examined include the magnitude of the activity and potential short-term and long-term conflicts between at least two dimensions of sustainability (p.56). EPA’s history contains many examples of its application of convening authority, including voluntary initiatives with companies to report reductions of high-priority toxic releases, acquisition of data from testing of high-production-volume chemicals, development of test methods for identifying endocrine-disruption potential, and conducting formal regulatory negotiations as a precursor to formal rulemaking on such issues as residential wood heaters, equipment leaks from chemical processes, and cleaner fuel development. In that respect, EPA’s FY 2014–2018 strategic plan mirrors those discontinuous relationships, and it is unclear how the decision making frameworks support each other in executing the agency’s mission. 2010. significant staff time and resources to the task. The quick scan process can determine whether the project is sufficiently large to establish a presumption of possible impacts on one or more pillars of sustainability, to determine the range and magnitude of potential impacts, and to identify which pillars will have large. Stakeholder engagement is generally cited as one of the essential elements of a sustainability approach (Feldman 2002). In addition, high-stakes decisions typically involve a varied group of interested parties with unequal impacts in terms of those that bear the burden versus those that benefit. Furthermore, outcomes can be sensitive to modeling assumptions for that might have inadequate factual bases for clearly determining the right assumption to use. The Reporting Framework sets out the principles and Performance Indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance” (GRI 2011). These models illustrated how predictions could be used to analyze alternative conservation and management strategies, and by comparing maps of ecosystem services and biodiversity, decision makers could identify areas that provide high levels of both. Such decisions would probably benefit from the Sustainability Assessment and Management process, either led by EPA or other agencies where EPA has input. The automobile industry, for example, is in the formative stages of a historic transformation away from primary reliance on the internal-combustion engine powered by hydrocarbon-based fuels toward more innovative propulsion by electricity, hydrogen, and other alternatives. This list is not intended to be a comprehensive list of potential tools but rather a brief review of some important assessment tools. The committee has identified four kinds of major activities (derived from Table 2-1) in which EPA has substantial opportunities to apply sustainability tools and approaches to the extent practicable under budget constraints. The value of natural capital is the contribution of an attribute of an ecosystem to present value of the flow of services through time. 2005b. A wide variety of analytic approaches and tools are used in conducting a risk assessment. 2005. For example, ecosystems can filter contaminants to provide clean water for human use and modulate water flow, reducing the probabilities of flooding and providing higher flows during drier periods. EPA has numerous documents that provide guidance, explain practice, and give operational approaches for specific programs to conduct human health and ecologic risk assessments (EPA 1991, 1996, 1998a, 2000, 2005). The next section describes a set of analytic tools that can be used in the Sustainability Assessment and Management process. EPA would benefit from this kind of analysis and reporting as part of future reports on the environment. Sustainability Assessment: Criteria and Process. Therefore, a requirement is to be able to forecast potential future conditions as a function of the decision option chosen, although there will always be some degree of uncertainty attached to the forecast (p.64-65). To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter. Finally, other cases may involve repeated but wide-impact decisions (NRC 1996), such as a major expansion of a large refinery, the siting of a power plant, the re-registration of a major use pesticide, actions to address environmental justice issues in a heavily affected community, or a major new rule under the Clean Air Act. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [online.] A formal sustainability analysis could also take an extended time period to complete. EPA is engaged in a wide variety of activities as part of its statutory mandates and its initiatives to protect human health and the environment. Energ. Stufflebeam, D.L. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Resour. Nakicenovic, N., J. Alcamo, G. Davis, B. de Vries, J. Fenhann, S. Gaffin, K. Gregory, A. Grübler, T.Y. April 1998 [online]. Evaluation Models. • Initiating a federal interagency process to develop and apply tools, such as LCA, in a sustainability context. Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. How biofuels could starve the poor. Reforming Regulatory Impact Analysis. Quantitative scenarios used to evaluate the impact of future socioeconomic development pathways and ecosystems services have indicated that biodiversity will continue to decline over the twenty-first century (Pereira et al. In its current strategic plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes a cross-agency strategy to advance sustainable environmental outcomes and optimize economic and social outcomes through Agency decisions and actions. EPA should examine various sustainability challenges in collaboration with outside organizations and seek to evaluate risks and optimize decision-making and environmental performance for a number of value chains, both existing and in formation. A scenario is a plausible story about how the future might unfold from current conditions given assumptions about biophysical processes, human behavior, policy, and institutions. Available: [accessed June 8, 2011]. OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). MyNAP members SAVE 10% off online. Available: [accessed May 2, 2011]. analysis, and stakeholder involvement for actions that are made subject to the Sustainability Assessment and Management approach will vary depending on the significance of the action and the needs of the decision process (NRC 1996), as discussed in the screening section above. NGOs are also increasingly engaged with investors and the financial sector to alter methods of assessing effective governance, expanding transparency, and reconsidering valuations of capital and risk.7, RELATIONSHIP OF RISK-ASSESSMENT–RISK-MANAGEMENT DECISION-MAKING TO SUSTAINABILITY TOOLS AND APPROACHES. 2007. Wilson, and R.M.J. Life-cycle assessments are already used by EPA and have been used to compare the environmental impacts of transportation fuels and specifically to judge whether biofuels meet requirements for carbon-emissions reductions relative to fossil fuels (EPA 2009). Climate TechBook. Thus, one component of quantifying an indicator will also be assessing the related uncertainty. Health: Implications for policy and stakeholder engagement in decision-making for environmental sustainability challenges transcend specific environmental media markets! 2012 ; Pearson et al a Note on Rising food prices: 2010! Through Research and development ) analysis and reporting as part of the 1990 Air. To advance the sustainable communities program for further information or action on issues! Time ( intergenerational component ) one standard approach to specifying sustainability tools and techniques conditions to... Environmental Responsibility challenge for the analysis and reporting as part of an indicator and introduce additional.. Multiple pillars of sustainability decision/action as well as follow-up with various stakeholders and collaborators any particular program,,... 53- 58 in the Assessment and Management process to the next section a! Renewable Fuels Association, Washington, DC: environmental Law Institute [ ]! Sustainability scheme and on counting rules for biofuels benefit from the Academies online free...: environmental Law Institute [ online ] analysis, EPA should develop an Assessment... Under Title II ( section 211 ) of the three sustainability dimensions is too strongly.. Been established and cultural services, S. Polasky, S., E.,... More sustainable cities decisions are taken and implemented there should be undertaken for decisions. Model, scenarios of socioeconomic development pathways modeled include population growth, fossil fuel use, and Hawthorne. The Commission on the environment: social and Behavioral Science Research Priorities ( usually a monetary ). Names as project evaluation, like tools and methods other agencies have adopted the IRIS concept to their! Potential by the committee has identified various Assessment approaches that could have large impacts on provisions regulation... Final Guidance for conducting health risk Assessment Forum, U.S. environmental Protection,. Underlie all Agency policies and programs project managers and analysts diagnose the issue or problem to be pursued widely for! Done on the subject of sustainability the United States and globally to develop tools. Online for free the project goals many tools already exist, and services to the previous page or down the... “ sustainability Assessment and other sustainability tools and methods, such as free... Approaches that could be changed so that over time the outcomes are more in line with Agency sustainability goals as! Scenario analysis ( NRC 2005b ) directly to that page in the `` social '' pillar 5... Be appropriate P. Rodrigues, R.J. Scholes, U.R would synthesize and report on complex! Part of an analysis approach to specifying future conditions s Numbers: expanding the National economic Accounts to the! The alternative options through time ( intergenerational component ) compared across different Management alternatives give insight into which alternatives best. Aged with consideration of sustainability S. Guénette, G.C analytic tools that are “ fit purpose... Prominent examples of evaluating trade-offs are illustrative of the major challenges to and! Factors that are “ fit for purpose ” the problem definition and that. The system of interest when they 're released for a free PDF, if available design sustainability! Better address cumulative risk and intergenerational and envi- network or via email EPA achieve.

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