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Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 7 (July 2012), Pages 1371-1646

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Open AccessArticle Energy Information Augmented Community-Based Energy Reduction
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1371-1396; doi:10.3390/su4071371
Received: 9 May 2012 / Revised: 8 June 2012 / Accepted: 14 June 2012 / Published: 25 June 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1010 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
More than one-half of all U.S. states have instituted energy efficiency mandates requiring utilities to reduce energy use. To achieve these goals, utilities have been permitted rate structures to help them incentivize energy reduction projects. This strategy is proving to be only [...] Read more.
More than one-half of all U.S. states have instituted energy efficiency mandates requiring utilities to reduce energy use. To achieve these goals, utilities have been permitted rate structures to help them incentivize energy reduction projects. This strategy is proving to be only modestly successful in stemming energy consumption growth. By the same token, community energy reduction programs have achieved moderate to very significant energy reduction. The research described here offers an important tool to strengthen the community energy reduction efforts—by providing such efforts energy information tailored to the energy use patterns of each building occupant. The information provided most importantly helps each individual energy customer understand their potential for energy savings and what reduction measures are most important to them. This information can be leveraged by the leading community organization to prompt greater action in its community. A number of case studies of this model are shown. Early results are promising. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Research Needs and Challenges from Science to Decision Support. Lesson Learnt from the Development of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Recommendations for Life Cycle Impact Assessment
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1412-1425; doi:10.3390/su4071412
Received: 14 May 2012 / Revised: 22 June 2012 / Accepted: 22 June 2012 / Published: 27 June 2012
Cited by 11 | PDF Full-text (366 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental implications of the whole supply-chain of products, both goods and services, their use, and waste management, i.e., their entire life cycle from “cradle to grave” have to be considered to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Progress toward environmental [...] Read more.
Environmental implications of the whole supply-chain of products, both goods and services, their use, and waste management, i.e., their entire life cycle from “cradle to grave” have to be considered to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Progress toward environmental sustainability requires enhancing the methodologies for quantitative, integrated environmental assessment and promoting the use of these methodologies in different domains. In the context of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of products, in recent years, several methodologies have been developed for Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA). The Joint Research Center of the European Commission (EC-JRC) led a “science to decision support” process which resulted in the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, providing guidelines to the decision and application of methods for LCIA. The Handbook is the result of a comprehensive process of evaluation and selection of existing methods based on a set of scientific and stakeholder acceptance criteria and involving review and consultation by experts, advisory groups and the public. In this study, we report the main features of the ILCD LCIA recommendation development highlighting relevant issues emerged from this “from science to decision support” process in terms of research needs and challenges for LCIA. Comprehensiveness of the assessment, as well as acceptability and applicability of the scientific developments by the stakeholders, are key elements for the design of new methods and to guarantee the mainstreaming of the sustainability concept. Full article
Open AccessArticle Material Footprint of Low-Income Households in Finland—Consequences for the Sustainability Debate
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1426-1447; doi:10.3390/su4071426
Received: 2 April 2012 / Revised: 18 June 2012 / Accepted: 19 June 2012 / Published: 29 June 2012
Cited by 15 | PDF Full-text (1635 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The article assesses the material footprints of households living on a minimum amount of social benefits in Finland and discusses the consequences in terms of ecological and social sustainability. The data were collected using interviews and a questionnaire on the consumption patterns [...] Read more.
The article assesses the material footprints of households living on a minimum amount of social benefits in Finland and discusses the consequences in terms of ecological and social sustainability. The data were collected using interviews and a questionnaire on the consumption patterns of 18 single households. The results are compared to a study on households with varying income levels, to average consumption patterns and to decent minimum reference budgets. The low-income households have lower material footprints than average and most of the material footprints are below the socially sustainable level of consumption, which is based on decent minimum reference budgets. However, the amount of resources used by most of the households studied here is still at least double that required for ecological sustainability. The simultaneous existence of both deprivation and overconsumption requires measures from both politicians and companies to make consumption sustainable. For example, both adequate housing and economic mobility need to be addressed. Measures to improve the social sustainability of low-income households should target reducing the material footprints of more affluent households. Furthermore, the concept of what constitutes a decent life should be understood more universally than on the basis of standards of material consumption. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Why is There No Tragedy in These Commons? An Analysis of Forest User Groups and Forest Policy in Bhutan
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1448-1465; doi:10.3390/su4071448
Received: 21 May 2012 / Revised: 21 June 2012 / Accepted: 3 July 2012 / Published: 5 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (313 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Governments around the world are increasingly devolving authority for forest management to the local level in an attempt to strengthen the management of national forests. Community forestry programs are recognized as providing a range of economic and social benefits and having a [...] Read more.
Governments around the world are increasingly devolving authority for forest management to the local level in an attempt to strengthen the management of national forests. Community forestry programs are recognized as providing a range of economic and social benefits and having a positive impact on increasing forest cover. However, concerns have been raised about the capability of user groups to manage community forests in a sustainable and equitable manner. This study analyzed the initial experience with community forestry in Bhutan and assessed the degree to which national policies have enhanced the likelihood of successful management by forestry user groups. The study found that the studied communities possess many attributes of successful forest user groups due to historical and socio-cultural reasons. National policies, including the unusual provision of handing over well-stocked forests to user groups, have further enhanced the likelihood of sustainable management by forest user groups. The initial experience of forest management by user groups in Bhutan is promising, and merits further study now that that a much larger number of community forests (CFs) have experience with harvesting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tragedy or Transcendence: Reflections on 'The Tragedy of the Commons')
Open AccessArticle The Search for Value and Meaning in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Costa Rica
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1466-1487; doi:10.3390/su4071466
Received: 5 May 2012 / Revised: 27 June 2012 / Accepted: 3 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (601 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Qualitative interviews with participants in the cocoa (Theobroma cacao) supply chain in Costa Rica and the United States were conducted and supplemented with an analysis of the marketing literature to examine the prospects of organic and Fairtrade certification for enhancing [...] Read more.
Qualitative interviews with participants in the cocoa (Theobroma cacao) supply chain in Costa Rica and the United States were conducted and supplemented with an analysis of the marketing literature to examine the prospects of organic and Fairtrade certification for enhancing environmentally and socially responsible trade of cocoa from Costa Rica. Respondents were familiar with both systems, and most had traded at least organic cocoa for some period. However, most individuals said that they were seeking better product differentiation and marketing than has been achieved under the organic and Fairtrade systems. Many suggested that more direct recognition of individual growers and the unique value of their cocoa throughout the production chain would be more helpful than certification for small companies in the cocoa supply chain. These findings suggest new marketing techniques that convey an integration of meaning into the cocoa and chocolate supply chain as a differentiation strategy. This involves integration of the story of producers’ commitment and dedication; shared producer and consumer values of social and environmental responsibility; and personal relationships between producers and consumers. This marketing approach could enhance the ability of smaller companies to successfully vie with their larger competitors and to produce cocoa in a more environmentally and socially acceptable manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Branding and Marketing)
Open AccessArticle Sustainable Urban Regeneration Based on Energy Balance
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1488-1509; doi:10.3390/su4071488
Received: 21 May 2012 / Revised: 26 June 2012 / Accepted: 27 June 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (754 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, results are reported of a technology assessment of the use and integration of decentralized energy systems and storage devices in an urban renewal area. First the general context of a different approach based on 'rethinking' and the incorporation of [...] Read more.
In this paper, results are reported of a technology assessment of the use and integration of decentralized energy systems and storage devices in an urban renewal area. First the general context of a different approach based on 'rethinking' and the incorporation of ongoing integration of coming economical and environmental interests on infrastructure, in relation to the sustainable urban development and regeneration from the perspective of the tripod people, technology and design is elaborated. However, this is at different scales, starting mainly from the perspective of the urban dynamics. This approach includes a renewed look at the ‘urban metabolism’ and the role of environmental technology, urban ecology and environment behavior focus. Second, the potential benefits of strategic and balanced introduction and use of decentralized devices and electric vehicles (EVs), and attached generation based on renewables are investigated in more detail in the case study of the ‘Merwe-Vierhaven’ area (MW4) in the Rotterdam city port in the Netherlands. In order to optimize the energy balance of this urban renewal area, it is found to be impossible to do this by tuning the energy consumption. It is more effective to change the energy mix and related infrastructures. However, the problem in existing urban areas is that often these areas are restricted to a few energy sources due to lack of available space for integration. Besides this, energy consumption in most cases is relatively concentrated in (existing) urban areas. This limits the potential of sustainable urban regeneration based on decentralized systems, because there is no balanced choice regarding the energy mix based on renewables and system optimization. Possible solutions to obtain a balanced energy profile can come from either the choice to not provide all energy locally, or by adding different types of storage devices to the systems. The use of energy balance based on renewables as a guiding principle, as elaborated in the MW4 case study, is a new approach in the field. It may enhance existing communities, and in some cases result in both the saving and demolition of parts of neighborhoods, which were not foreseen, while at the same time direct introduction of flexible appliances within the energy system for (temporary) storage. It is concluded that the best achievable energy balance in the MW4 area consists of an elaboration in which a smart grid is able to shift the load of flexible devices and charge EVs via smart charging while energy generation is based upon the renewables biomass, wind, tides and the sun. The introduction of new sustainable technologies makes a protected environment for development evident. As for system configuration, the choices arise mainly from technical and social optimisation. In fact, the social, or user-related criteria will be decisive for enduring sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Regeneration and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Assessing the Potential of Climate Change Mitigation Actions in Three Different City Types in Finland
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1510-1524; doi:10.3390/su4071510
Received: 18 May 2012 / Revised: 27 June 2012 / Accepted: 4 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (432 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As the effects of global warming have become more evident, ambitious short-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets have been set in recent years. Many cities worldwide have adopted an active approach to climate change mitigation, but policy makers are not always knowledgeable [...] Read more.
As the effects of global warming have become more evident, ambitious short-term greenhouse gas emission reduction targets have been set in recent years. Many cities worldwide have adopted an active approach to climate change mitigation, but policy makers are not always knowledgeable of the true effects of their planned mitigation action. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effectiveness of different mitigation strategies in achieving low-carbon urban communities. The assessment is conducted via means of consumption based hybrid life-cycle assessment, which allows the reduction potential to be analyzed from the perspective of an individual resident of the urban community. The assessed actions represent strategies that are both adopted by the case cities and possible to implement with current best practices in Finland. The four assessed actions comprise: (1) dense urban structure with less private driving; (2) the use of energy production based on renewable sources; (3) new low-energy residential construction; and (4) improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings. The findings show that the effectiveness depends greatly on the type of city, although in absolute terms the most significant reduction potential lies with lowering the fossil fuel dependence of the local energy production. Full article
Open AccessArticle Does Energy Efficiency Reduce Emissions and Peak Demand? A Case Study of 50 Years of Space Heating in Melbourne
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1525-1560; doi:10.3390/su4071525
Received: 29 May 2012 / Revised: 2 July 2012 / Accepted: 9 July 2012 / Published: 11 July 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1154 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper examines the relationship between space heating energy efficiency and two related but distinct measures; greenhouse mitigation, and peak demand. The historic role of Melbourne’s space heating provides an opportunity to assess whether improvements in energy efficiency lead to sustained reductions [...] Read more.
This paper examines the relationship between space heating energy efficiency and two related but distinct measures; greenhouse mitigation, and peak demand. The historic role of Melbourne’s space heating provides an opportunity to assess whether improvements in energy efficiency lead to sustained reductions in energy consumption or whether rebound factors “take back” efficiency gains in the long run. Despite significant and sustained improvements in appliance efficiency, and the thermal efficiency of new building fabrics, the per-capita heating energy consumption has remained remarkably stable over the past 50 years. Space heating efficiency is bound up with notions of comfort, sufficiency and lifestyle, and the short-run gains from efficiency become incorporated into a new set of norms. It is this evolution of cultural norms that reconciles the contradiction between the short-run gains from efficiency measures, with the efficiency rebound that becomes evident over the long-term. The related, but distinct peak demand measure can be influenced by efficiency measures, but energy efficiency measures will not alter the requirement for large-scale conventional energy to provide affordable and reliable winter heating. Full article
Open AccessArticle Consumer Panel on the Readiness of Finns to Behave in a More Pro-Environmental Manner
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1561-1579; doi:10.3390/su4071561
Received: 5 June 2012 / Revised: 29 June 2012 / Accepted: 29 June 2012 / Published: 11 July 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Due to climate change, there is an urgent need to take measures toward reducing greenhouse gases and energy consumption. It is therefore vital to examine peoples’ attitudes and the potential for a more pro-environmental readiness. Consumer panels were used in the gathering [...] Read more.
Due to climate change, there is an urgent need to take measures toward reducing greenhouse gases and energy consumption. It is therefore vital to examine peoples’ attitudes and the potential for a more pro-environmental readiness. Consumer panels were used in the gathering of data, even with such small subsamples, statistical significance of difference cannot be assessed. The research subjects participating were randomly selected from two different residential areas and three different age groups. The consumer panels examined the environmental attitudes of the research subjects as well as their readiness to adopt a more pro-environmental lifestyle under four theme headings: Urban structure, household energy consumption, mobility and lifestyle. The results suggest that all the research subjects are very much ready to reduce their consumption, but not quite ready to invest in expensive, but environmentally-friendly equipment. Young and elderly research subjects seemed more prepared to make pro-environmental changes than middle-aged subjects. Place of residence also seemed to have an impact on the adoption threshold: Research subjects living in more densely populated suburbs seemed to be more willing to give up driving, whereas those living in sparsely populated areas seemed to be more willing to invest in expensive, but environmentally-friendly equipment and give up flying for vacations. Full article
Open AccessArticle Forest Stakeholder Participation in Improving Game Habitat in Swedish Forests
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1580-1595; doi:10.3390/su4071580
Received: 20 May 2012 / Revised: 6 July 2012 / Accepted: 6 July 2012 / Published: 11 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (238 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although in Sweden the simultaneous use of forests for timber production and game hunting are both of socioeconomic importance it often leads to conflicting interests. This study examines forest stakeholder participation in improving game habitat to increase hunting opportunities as well as [...] Read more.
Although in Sweden the simultaneous use of forests for timber production and game hunting are both of socioeconomic importance it often leads to conflicting interests. This study examines forest stakeholder participation in improving game habitat to increase hunting opportunities as well as redistribute game activities in forests to help reduce browsing damage in valuable forest stands. The data for the study were collected from a nationwide survey that involved randomly selected hunters and forest owners in Sweden. An ordered logit model was used to account for possible factors influencing the respondents’ participation in improving game habitat. The results showed that on average, forest owning hunters were more involved in improving game habitat than non-hunting forest owners. The involvement of non-forest owning hunters was intermediate between the former two groups. The respondents’ participation in improving game habitat were mainly influenced by factors such as the quantity of game meat obtained, stakeholder group, forests on hunting grounds, the extent of risk posed by game browsing damage to the economy of forest owners, importance of bagging game during hunting, and number of hunting days. The findings will help in designing a more sustainable forest management strategy that integrates timber production and game hunting in forests. Full article
Open AccessArticle Worlds Apart: A Social Theoretical Exploration of Local Networks, Natural Actors, and Practitioners of Rural Development in Southern Honduras
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1596-1618; doi:10.3390/su4071596
Received: 23 May 2012 / Revised: 26 June 2012 / Accepted: 5 July 2012 / Published: 16 July 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (282 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the importance of incorporating the socioecological realities of alternative networks into analyses of rural development. Cultural theory is examined, which provides a base upon which rural development can identify difference in worldviews based on difference in sociological conditions and [...] Read more.
This paper explores the importance of incorporating the socioecological realities of alternative networks into analyses of rural development. Cultural theory is examined, which provides a base upon which rural development can identify difference in worldviews based on difference in sociological conditions and environmental phenomena. Actor-oriented theory problematizes the ideal types of cultural theory, providing a means of give-and-take between actors’ worldviews of different networks. Actor-network theory breaks down the nature-culture dichotomy of actor-oriented theory, so that nature becomes as ‘active’ an actor as people and community. Actor-network theory brings nature and society together, perceiving the two as mutually inclusive and constitutive. Coupled with recognition of power associated with political economic/ecological forces, actor-network theory can encourage us to see the frequency of tropical storms in Honduras as being among the powerful actors that have played a significant, consistent role in shaping the mode of ordering of impoverished Honduran peoples. This paper concludes by exploring how alternative, agroecological networks established in a protected area in southern Honduras with ‘strong’ natural actors can be re-ordered by incorporating autonomy and resiliency into the network. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Development in Natural Protected Areas)
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Open AccessArticle In Transition towards Sustainability: Bridging the Business and Education Sectors of Regional Centre of Expertise Greater Sendai Using Education for Sustainable Development-Based Social Learning
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1619-1644; doi:10.3390/su4071619
Received: 22 May 2012 / Revised: 26 June 2012 / Accepted: 5 July 2012 / Published: 17 July 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (321 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article discusses a business-school collaborative learning partnership in the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Greater Sendai. This partnership is further linked to a broader context of multi-stakeholder public participation in the RCE that was [...] Read more.
This article discusses a business-school collaborative learning partnership in the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Greater Sendai. This partnership is further linked to a broader context of multi-stakeholder public participation in the RCE that was set up to advance the ESD agenda in the region. The authors propose a conceptual framework for multi-stakeholder, ESD-based social learning within the RCE with the aim of enabling the creation of a sustainability-literate society. This proposal is based on the results of students’ prior experience in ESD activities, optimal age for ESD learning and future job choices presented in this paper, together with a reported article that the levels of sustainability of the two sectoral organizations were mixed and hence need improvement. The paper argues that it will be good to focus on bridging the business and education sectors by building ESD capacity of the children and youth in the formal education sector. It contends this could be done through collaborative learning using the government-mandated “Period of Integrated Studies” (PIS) in the Japanese primary and secondary school curriculum. Additionally, it will be appropriate for the RCE Greater Sendai Steering Committee to facilitate and coordinate the learning processes and also promote networking and cooperative interactions among the actors and stakeholders in the region. Recommendations for improvement of the learning partnerships in RCE Greater Sendai are made for consideration at the local and national policy levels. Full article

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Open AccessConcept Paper From Confining to Sharing for Sustainable Flood Management
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1397-1411; doi:10.3390/su4071397
Received: 13 April 2012 / Revised: 29 May 2012 / Accepted: 18 June 2012 / Published: 26 June 2012
PDF Full-text (1315 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
It is widely accepted that sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. However, the question of how to apply this principle to flood management remains [...] Read more.
It is widely accepted that sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. However, the question of how to apply this principle to flood management remains insufficiently answered. This article outlines a new strategic concept termed as “Flood Sharing” as a means toward sustainable flood management. Contrary to the traditional concept of flood confinement or blocking, the new concept advocates the need to alleviate flood damage by reducing inundation depth via expanding flood inundation areas. It differs from other contemporary thinking such as “make space for water” and “room for the river” in its emphasis on using the urban fabric. Evidence from a case study was presented to support this new concept, and model/data analyses have been conducted to show that it could be realized through the wise use of infrastructure. Full article
Open AccessCorrection Correction: The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States, Sustainability 2011, 3, 2157-2181
Sustainability 2012, 4(7), 1645-1646; doi:10.3390/su4071645
Received: 13 July 2012 / Accepted: 13 July 2012 / Published: 18 July 2012
PDF Full-text (340 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract The authors wish to make the following correction to this paper. Due to mislabeling, replace: [...] Full article

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