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Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 6 (June 2012), Pages 1089-1370

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Wood-Pellet Heating in Norway: Early Adopters’ Satisfaction and Problems That Have Been Experienced
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1089-1103; doi:10.3390/su4061089
Received: 10 April 2012 / Revised: 20 May 2012 / Accepted: 21 May 2012 / Published: 25 May 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (271 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Given the vital role of early adopters during the early stage of wood-pellet heating development, this study aims to explore the factors that explain the overall satisfaction among the early adopters of this type of heating as well as the problems experienced [...] Read more.
Given the vital role of early adopters during the early stage of wood-pellet heating development, this study aims to explore the factors that explain the overall satisfaction among the early adopters of this type of heating as well as the problems experienced with wood-pellet heating in Norway. Ordinal regression was used to analyze empirical data which was collected from a mail survey in autumn 2008. The response rate of 45% was composed of 669 early adopters of wood-pellet heating. Findings show that both economic factor (i.e., cost) and technical factors (i.e., pellet stove performance) have played a significant role in early adopters’ overall satisfaction with wood-pellet heating. The most common problems experienced are igniter failure in the pellet stove, lack of committed and competent suppliers/vendors, more time and effort than expected during maintenance, and fines from pellets both during handling and combustion. Full article
Open AccessArticle Noise Pollution Prevention in Wind Turbines: Status and Recent Advances
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1104-1117; doi:10.3390/su4061104
Received: 29 March 2012 / Revised: 17 April 2012 / Accepted: 9 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (596 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The global push towards sustainability has led to increased interest in alternative power sources other than coal and fossil fuels. One of these sustainable sources is to harness energy from the wind through wind turbines. However, a significant hindrance preventing the widespread [...] Read more.
The global push towards sustainability has led to increased interest in alternative power sources other than coal and fossil fuels. One of these sustainable sources is to harness energy from the wind through wind turbines. However, a significant hindrance preventing the widespread use of wind turbines is the noise they produce. This study reviews recent advances in the area of noise pollution from wind turbines. To date, there have been many different noise control studies. While there are many different sources of noise, the main one is aerodynamic noise. The largest contributor to aerodynamic noise comes from the trailing edge of wind turbine blades. The aim of this paper is to critically analyse and compare the different methods currently being implemented and investigated to reduce noise production from wind turbines, with a focus on the noise generated from the trailing edge. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1118-1134; doi:10.3390/su4061118
Received: 8 March 2012 / Revised: 7 May 2012 / Accepted: 12 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (361 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article addresses a question relevant to those interested in the achievement of greater sustainability: What are some of the ways that major societal transformations come about? Firstly, four key mechanisms are identified in the article. Then, I go on to focus [...] Read more.
This article addresses a question relevant to those interested in the achievement of greater sustainability: What are some of the ways that major societal transformations come about? Firstly, four key mechanisms are identified in the article. Then, I go on to focus on one of these, which has a prominent place in the sustainability revolution that it is argued is now taking place. The question of what are characteristic features of the sustainability revolution is addressed. The ongoing transformations are largely piecemeal, incremental, diffuse—in earlier writings referred to as “organic”. Organic is a more encompassing notion than “grassroots”, since the innovation and transformation processes may be launched and developed at multiple levels by collective agents that in some cases are very large and would not be understood as “grassroots” actors. The article argues that the sustainability revolution shares some features, in particular its organic character, with the early industrial revolution. It concludes by addressing the question of what are the similarities and differences between the sustainability and industrial revolutions. Full article
Open AccessArticle Using Sustainability Engineering to Gain Universal Sustainability Efficiency
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1135-1153; doi:10.3390/su4061135
Received: 2 April 2012 / Revised: 3 May 2012 / Accepted: 9 May 2012 / Published: 30 May 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (427 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The present article is an attempt to perceive the universal sustainability observable in an individual country or region, where the religious, political, social-demographic, economic, environmental, creative, technological and investment subsystems are revealed not only through the vitality of spiritual and material existence [...] Read more.
The present article is an attempt to perceive the universal sustainability observable in an individual country or region, where the religious, political, social-demographic, economic, environmental, creative, technological and investment subsystems are revealed not only through the vitality of spiritual and material existence media, but rather through the signs of the development of these subsystems as self-assembled units through the erosion of their interaction. The problem of optimal allocation of investment resources among the separate sustainability’s subsystems was addressed by means of expert methods and techniques of portfolio methodology which will enable the achievement of the enshrined universal sustainability standards. A country-specific index composition of sustainability subsystems’ indices was chosen as the universal sustainability index for the specific country. The index in its dynamics is perceived as a random process. While projecting its state and evaluating its power, i.e., the impact of the subsystem efficiency in a particular moment, this power is measured by the level of the index and the reliability or guarantee of an appropriate level. To solve the problem of investment resources allocation, the idea of Markowitz Random Field was invoked in order to reach the maximum power of sustainability index while applying the technical solution—the so-called “GoldSim” system. Engineering is a methodology that aspires to reveal the core attributes of complex systems and instruments in order to manage the possibility to influence these properties for the systems. Experimental expert evaluation and case study is performed on Lithuanian data. Full article
Open AccessArticle The New Ecology of Vacancy: Rethinking Land Use in Shrinking Cities
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1154-1172; doi:10.3390/su4061154
Received: 15 February 2012 / Revised: 17 May 2012 / Accepted: 18 May 2012 / Published: 5 June 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (1278 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban environments are in continual transition. Yet, as many cities continue to grow and develop in ways deemed typical or standard, these transitions can be difficult to acknowledge. Narratives of continued growth and permanence become accepted and expected while the understanding of [...] Read more.
Urban environments are in continual transition. Yet, as many cities continue to grow and develop in ways deemed typical or standard, these transitions can be difficult to acknowledge. Narratives of continued growth and permanence become accepted and expected while the understanding of urban dynamics becomes lost. In many parts of the world, the shrinking cities phenomenon has given rise to a new awareness of urban transition that provides a laboratory of new conditions at the intersection of urbanism and ecology. With property vacancy rates easily exceeding 50% in certain locations, cities in the American Rust Belt look more like successional woodlands than bustling metropolises, yet these cities still contain significant numbers of urban residents. A central question that arises from this phenomenon is: how can vacant land, through the provision of ecosystem services, become a resource as opposed to a liability? This paper looks to recent studies in urban ecology as a lens for understanding the land use potential of shrinking cities, while discussing unconventional solutions for sustainable development of urban land. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle Unveiling the Process of Sustainable Renovation
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1188-1213; doi:10.3390/su4061188
Received: 23 April 2012 / Revised: 15 May 2012 / Accepted: 29 May 2012 / Published: 8 June 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (439 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Renovation processes are complex and there is a risk of underestimating architectural, cultural, and social values in favor of exterior and interior upgrading, energy efficiency and financing. A synthesized, systematic process is needed for making decisions about renovation measures. The aim of [...] Read more.
Renovation processes are complex and there is a risk of underestimating architectural, cultural, and social values in favor of exterior and interior upgrading, energy efficiency and financing. A synthesized, systematic process is needed for making decisions about renovation measures. The aim of this paper is to survey decision-making procedures aimed for sustainable renovation. We inventory existing tools and methodologies based on (a) a literature review and (b) results from a workshop with participants from the Swedish buildings sector, academia, and other stakeholders. Our results show that there are many tools available but few seem to have reached acceptance in renovation. None of the more established methods and tools addresses a complexity that balances material and immaterial values and they are often too specific. There is a need for simplified tools, especially for evaluating more intangible, experienced values. Instead of one comprehensive tool preferably a methodology for renovation should be developed with references to different tools. In the building sector, renovation should be considered a service-minded process rather than a merely technical one as often is the case in new construction. There is a need to clarify the process and the meaning of the terms, and that need is even more urgent when it comes to the values that are more difficult to define. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Nuclear Fuel Cycles and World Regional Issues
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1214-1238; doi:10.3390/su4061214
Received: 27 March 2012 / Revised: 3 May 2012 / Accepted: 29 May 2012 / Published: 12 June 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (6442 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the present paper we have attempted to associate quantified impacts with a forecasted nuclear energy development in different world regions, under a range of hypotheses on the energy demand growth. It gives results in terms of availability of uranium resources, required [...] Read more.
In the present paper we have attempted to associate quantified impacts with a forecasted nuclear energy development in different world regions, under a range of hypotheses on the energy demand growth. It gives results in terms of availability of uranium resources, required deployment of fuel cycle facilities and reactor types. In particular, the need to achieve short doubling times with future fast reactors is investigated and quantified in specific world regions. It has been found that a crucial feature of any world scenario study is to provide not only trends for an idealized “homogeneous” description of the global world, but also trends for different regions in the world. These regions may be selected using rather simple criteria (mostly of a geographical type), in order to apply different hypotheses for energy demand growth, fuel cycle strategies and the implementation of various reactor types for the different regions. This approach was an attempt to avoid focusing on selected countries, in particular on those where no new significant energy demand growth is expected, but instead to provide trends and conclusions that account for the features of countries that will be major players in the world energy development in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Nuclear Energy)
Open AccessArticle Understanding the Social Dynamics of Energy Regions—The Importance of Discourse Analysis
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1256-1273; doi:10.3390/su4061256
Received: 30 April 2012 / Revised: 18 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1306 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Regional initiatives pursuing self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energy sources (RESS-initiatives) aim at contributing to broader transitions towards more sustainable energy systems. As such, they have raised high expectations among local activists and are increasingly supported by diverse funding schemes such [...] Read more.
Regional initiatives pursuing self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energy sources (RESS-initiatives) aim at contributing to broader transitions towards more sustainable energy systems. As such, they have raised high expectations among local activists and are increasingly supported by diverse funding schemes such as national programs. How can the social dynamics entangled in these initiatives be understood and assessed? A discourse analytical perspective, such as the Argumentative Discourse Analysis developed by Hajer, can bring valuable insights in this regard. This approach highlights the formation of discourse coalitions and processes of discourse structuration and institutionalization. In order to illustrate my conceptual and methodological considerations, I present an analysis of discursive dynamics observed in the alpine district of Murau, Austria, where the vision of reaching ‘energy autarky’ by the year 2015 has influenced regional development plans since 2003. The chosen discourse analytical approach has been very helpful in guiding the analysis of this case. Specific local conditions can explain why certain visions gained discursive hegemony. Full article
Open AccessArticle Safety-Related Optimization and Analyses of an Innovative Fast Reactor Concept
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1274-1291; doi:10.3390/su4061274
Received: 4 May 2012 / Revised: 11 June 2012 / Accepted: 12 June 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (906 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Since a fast reactor core with uranium-plutonium fuel is not in its most reactive configuration under operating conditions, redistribution of the core materials (fuel, steel, sodium) during a core disruptive accident (CDA) may lead to recriticalities and as a consequence to severe [...] Read more.
Since a fast reactor core with uranium-plutonium fuel is not in its most reactive configuration under operating conditions, redistribution of the core materials (fuel, steel, sodium) during a core disruptive accident (CDA) may lead to recriticalities and as a consequence to severe nuclear power excursions. The prevention, or at least the mitigation, of core disruption is therefore of the utmost importance. In the current paper, we analyze an innovative fast reactor concept developed within the CP-ESFR European project, focusing on the phenomena affecting the initiation and the transition phases of an unprotected loss of flow (ULOF) accident. Key phenomena for the initiation phase are coolant boiling onset and further voiding of the core that lead to a reactivity increase in the case of a positive void reactivity effect. Therefore, the first level of optimization involves the reduction, by design, of the positive void effect in order to avoid entering a severe accident. If the core disruption cannot be avoided, the accident enters into the transition phase, characterized by the progression of core melting and recriticalities due to fuel compaction. Dedicated features that enhance and guarantee a sufficient and timely fuel discharge are considered for the optimization of this phase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Nuclear Energy)
Open AccessArticle The Effects of Environmental Management Systems on Source Separation in the Work and Home Settings
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1292-1308; doi:10.3390/su4061292
Received: 27 March 2012 / Revised: 12 June 2012 / Accepted: 12 June 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (217 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Measures that challenge the generation of waste are needed to address the global problem of the increasing volumes of waste that are generated in both private homes and workplaces. Source separation at the workplace is commonly implemented by environmental management systems (EMS). [...] Read more.
Measures that challenge the generation of waste are needed to address the global problem of the increasing volumes of waste that are generated in both private homes and workplaces. Source separation at the workplace is commonly implemented by environmental management systems (EMS). In the present study, the relationship between source separation at work and at home was investigated. A questionnaire that maps psychological and behavioural predictors of source separation was distributed to employees at different workplaces. The results show that respondents with awareness of EMS report higher levels of source separation at work, stronger environmental concern, personal and social norms, and perceive source separation to be less difficult. Furthermore, the results support the notion that after the adoption of EMS at the workplace, source separation at work spills over into source separation in the household. The potential implications for environmental management systems are discussed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Urban Planning for a Renewable Energy Future: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities from a Design Perspective
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1309-1328; doi:10.3390/su4061309
Received: 7 May 2012 / Revised: 11 June 2012 / Accepted: 11 June 2012 / Published: 18 June 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2091 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urban planning for a renewable energy future requires the collaboration of different disciplines both in research and practice. In the present article, the planning of a renewable energy future is approached from a designer’s perspective. A framework for analysis of the planning [...] Read more.
Urban planning for a renewable energy future requires the collaboration of different disciplines both in research and practice. In the present article, the planning of a renewable energy future is approached from a designer’s perspective. A framework for analysis of the planning questions at hand is first proposed. The framework considers two levels of inquiry: the technical environmental aspect, and its wider embedding in sustainable development. Furthermore, life cycle analysis and exergy studies are discussed for their application potential in design. An altered trias energetica as proposed in earlier publications appears to remain a robust concept for low exergy, renewable energy based urban design. When considering sustainable development, environmental assessments shall be completed by an inquiry of the socio-cultural, economical, juridical, aesthetical and ethical aspects characterizing the planning or decision process. The article then presents a number of practical design principles that can help envisioning a built environment that can be sustained on the basis of renewable energy sources. In accordance with the altered trias energetica concept, elements of passive urban energy design, exergetic optimization of energy provision systems and the sourcing of renewable energy are identified, and their respective potentials assessed. Full article
Open AccessArticle Are Green Taxes a Good Way to Help Solve State Budget Deficits?
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1329-1353; doi:10.3390/su4061329
Received: 8 May 2012 / Revised: 31 May 2012 / Accepted: 7 June 2012 / Published: 18 June 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (267 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
States are increasingly turning to environmental taxes as a means of raising revenue. These taxes are often thought to generate a double dividend: an environmental dividend stemming from the environmental improvement, and an economic dividend resulting from use of the revenue from [...] Read more.
States are increasingly turning to environmental taxes as a means of raising revenue. These taxes are often thought to generate a double dividend: an environmental dividend stemming from the environmental improvement, and an economic dividend resulting from use of the revenue from environmental taxes to reduce other distortionary taxes (e.g., income or sales taxes). We review the economic literature on the double-dividend hypothesis, and show explicitly that the conditions under which the second dividend exists are less likely to hold when the amount of revenue that would be raised by an optimal environmental tax is small relative to the tax revenue from other taxes. We then present estimates of the potential revenue that could be raised from two environmental taxes in Connecticut. The results suggest that, because of their small tax base, environmental taxes are likely to have limited potential to raise revenue to finance state government budget deficits and/or reduce other distortionary taxes. Overall, environmental taxes could still generate significant gains for society if they lead to significant improvements in environmental quality. However, without more evidence of the existence of a double dividend, states should not try to justify these taxes on the basis of raising revenue more efficiently. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
Open AccessArticle Changes in Local People’s Perceptions of the Sumava National Park in the Czech Republic over a Ten Year Period (1998–2008)
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1354-1370; doi:10.3390/su4061354
Received: 2 April 2012 / Revised: 4 May 2012 / Accepted: 13 June 2012 / Published: 19 June 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (947 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Sumava National Park (NP), the largest protected area of its kind in Central Europe, is as interesting as it is problematic (historical development, conflicts between regional development and landscape protection). In order to evaluate the success of the Park’s policies, local [...] Read more.
The Sumava National Park (NP), the largest protected area of its kind in Central Europe, is as interesting as it is problematic (historical development, conflicts between regional development and landscape protection). In order to evaluate the success of the Park’s policies, local park inhabitants’ attitudes were assessed over a ten-year period. Two surveys (N = 181 and N = 200) were conducted in August, 1998 and 2008. The questionnaires consisted of 43 queries from three thematic areas; (a) socio-demographic data, (b) environment and nature conservation, and (c) sustainable tourism and local development. The comparison of the results 1998 with 2008 showed that the Park inhabitants perceived living in the Park as improving and the scheme for nature conservation as either “optimal” or “more strict”. The surveys also showed the loss of job opportunities as the most prevalent local concern. In a cluster analysis based on perceptions of (a) the Park, (b) the environment and (c) Park Administration, subjects were divided into four opinion groups ranging from “optimists” to “grumblers”. The most “positive (optimistic)” group saw little connection between the Park’s existence and job losses, while the most “negative” group saw a strong connection in that regard. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Development in Natural Protected Areas)

Review

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Open AccessReview Limitations of Nuclear Power as a Sustainable Energy Source
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1173-1187; doi:10.3390/su4061173
Received: 13 April 2012 / Revised: 8 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 7 June 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (377 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper provides a review and analysis of the challenges that nuclear power must overcome in order to be considered sustainable. The results make it clear that not only do innovative technical solutions need to be generated for the fundamental inherent environmental [...] Read more.
This paper provides a review and analysis of the challenges that nuclear power must overcome in order to be considered sustainable. The results make it clear that not only do innovative technical solutions need to be generated for the fundamental inherent environmental burdens of nuclear energy technology, but the nuclear industry must also address difficult issues of equity both in the present and for future generations. The results show that if the concept of just sustainability is applied to the nuclear energy sector a global large-scale sustainable nuclear energy system to replace fossil fuel combustion requires the following: (i) a radical improvement in greenhouse gas emissions intensity by improved technology and efficiency through the entire life cycle to prevent energy cannibalism during rapid growth; (ii) the elimination of nuclear insecurity to reduce the risks associated with nuclear power so that the free market can indemnify it without substantial public nuclear energy insurance subsidies; (iii) the elimination of radioactive waste at the end of life and minimization of environmental impact during mining and operations; and (iv) the nuclear industry must regain public trust or face obsolescence as a swarm of renewable energy technologies quickly improve both technical and economic performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Nuclear Energy)
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Other

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Open AccessCommentary Renegotiation of the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement: From Confusion to Promise
Sustainability 2012, 4(6), 1239-1255; doi:10.3390/su4061239
Received: 21 March 2012 / Revised: 8 June 2012 / Accepted: 12 June 2012 / Published: 15 June 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (203 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For nearly four decades, the Great Lakes regime has invoked the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as the mechanism for binational cooperation on programs and policies. Many advances in water quality have led to unquestionable improvements in ecosystem quality, habitat and biodiversity, [...] Read more.
For nearly four decades, the Great Lakes regime has invoked the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement as the mechanism for binational cooperation on programs and policies. Many advances in water quality have led to unquestionable improvements in ecosystem quality, habitat and biodiversity, and water infrastructure. Still, Great Lakes scientists have issued compelling evidence that the ecological health of the basin ecosystem is at significant risk. In 2012, the Agreement will be revised for the first time in 25 years. The degree of engagement in a future Agreement, including scope, issues of significant importance, governance and collaboration will hinge on a thorough analytical process, so far seemingly absent, coupled with real consultation, so far marginally evident. Renegotiating the Agreement to generate a revitalized and sustainable future mandates that science inform contemporary public policy, and that inclusive discourse and public engagement be integral through the process. Many of these steps are still absent, and the analysis presented here strongly suggests that the constituents of the Great Lakes regime voice their views critically, emphatically, and often. If the negotiators listen, we can collectively make the Lakes Great. Full article

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