Lost in Translation - Sustainability down the construction supply chain

The public sector is currently responsible for around 25% of annual construction procurement in the UK, of which £18bn is spent by local councils. Through the likes of the Social Value Act, procurement evaluation has been increasingly mandated by Government to consider not just cost but added value, including sustainability. This requirement is underpinned by multiple strategies and policies, such as Greening Government, the Construction Strategy 2050, with its focus on reducing carbon, and Construction Common Minimum Standards which requires the use of green building, timber and social value standards.

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Authors:  Luke Deamer, Doctoral Practitioner; Erica Russell, Doctoral Practitiioner; Dr Jaqi Lee, Reader in Sustainable Systems Analysis

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Why the UK nuclear industry needs its own NASA

The nuclear sector seems unique in its characteristics and challenges – it is highly regulated, subject to intense pressures over operational safety, expensive, and the days when it was at the cutting edge of technology were in the 1950s and 1960s.  But much the same can be said of the US space sector, which is now showing signs of technological renaissance. What might nuclear power innovation strategists learn from the experience of the space industry over the past three or four decades? 

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Author: Abeer Abdalla, Doctoral Practitioner

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Staff and Student Sustainability Survey

The Staff and student sustainability survey is part of a study that analyses how to best improve the environmental performance of the University of Surrey and at HEIs in general.  This report presents the findings of the Staff and Student Sustainability Survey conducted in May 2019 at the University of Surrey.  A final sample of 448 members of staff and 781 students was achieved, with responses being collected online and through direct engagement.

The full report is available here

Author:  Nicola Rieg, Doctoral Practitioner

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Proper use of pre-qualification questionnaires can inject value into projects

Pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) are used to ensure suppliers and contractors meet minimum standards, typically on health & safety, quality and the environment. Any contractor will also know PQQs vary considerably between clients, ranging from as few as three questions for some small projects to more than 100 for public projects like HS2. Topic areas also vary, from solely health and safety and financial figures through to cyber security accreditation or sustainability KPIs. This all translates into considerable variation in the time and resources taken to complete these forms, as well as the wider value they present to clients.

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Author:  Luke Deamer, Doctoral Practitioner

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Exploring the Status Quo of Water-Energy Nexus Policies and Governance in Jordan

This paper evaluates the status quo of the policies and institutional structures of the water and energy sectors in Jordan, and whether they can be oriented toward an integrated governance of the Water-Energy Nexus (WEN).  It contributes to two main gaps in the WEN literature; the limited available studies on the institutional and governance aspect of the WEN, and the shortage in qualitative research in this area, particularly in the Middle East region.  Proposals identified recommend adopting collaboration arrangements tailored to each sector’s needs and existing structures, and supported by effective enforcements and adequate human and financial resources; essentially from private sector, to ensure an incremental and steady change toward inter-institutional coordination.  Findings of this study will help expand the debate on the WEN governance to other countries comparable to Jordan, to help policymakers to effectively plan for joint water-energy investments for a more sustainable future. 

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Authors:Raya Al-MasriDr Jonathan Chenoweth; Prof Richard Murphy


In the Age of Extinction, who is Extreme?

Extinction Rebellion have made headlines with their protests. They have also been accused of extremism. But in the era of climate breakdown and during the sixth mass extinction, is their program really extreme, and who gets to decide this? In this article, CES research fellow Simon Mair and Professor of Social Ecology & Ecological Economics at Leeds university, Julia Steinberger argue that Extinction Rebellion’s program for economic and political reform is well supported by social scientific evidence.

Authors: Mair, S. and Steinberger, J

For the full article please see Open Democracy

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Capitalism and Climate Change: a Political Marxist View

In an article for New Socialist, CES research fellow Simon Mair uses a synthesis of ecological economics and Political Marxism to analyse the root causes of climate change. Setting out the historical dynamics of capitalism and development of the fossil fuel energy system this article shows how capitalism and the energy system shaped one another. Widespread fossil fuel use was enabled by, and necessary for, the capitalist dynamics of productivity growth and expansion. Avoiding catastrophic climate change will require radical transformation of the economy as we know it.

For the full article see the New Socialist

Aurthor: Simon Mair

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Usufruct: Rethinking our national inheritance

We owe future generations a better economy, not a bigger one.

The Green New Deal has reignited old debates between the left and right in countries around the world. Setting aside climate deniers (if only it were that easy!), the argument is between those who believe a radical large-scale spending program to combat climate change will stimulate economic growth and those who fear it will inflate government debt, placing an undue burden on our children. This disagreement about how to stimulate the economy is nothing new and unlikely to be resolved in time to address climate change. So, before we return to the same old debates, we should pause, take a step back and reconsider our responsibility to future generations.

Article by CES PhD student Ben Gallant

Read the full article via opendemocracy website.

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Zero Carbon Sooner—The case for an early zero carbon target for the UK

In a new paper, CUSP Director Tim Jackson is making the case for an early (fair) zero carbon target for the UK—calling for a policy strategy not only on setting target dates, but emission pathways, with reasonably defined levels of negative emission technologies to rely on.

The new CUSP Briefing Paper Zero Carbon Sooner addresses the question of when the UK should aim for zero (or net zero) carbon emissions. Starting from the global carbon budget which would allow the world an estimated 66% chance of limiting climate warming to 1.5o C, the paper derives a fair carbon budget for the UK of 2.5 GtCO2. The briefing then analyses a variety of emission pathways and target dates in terms of their adequacy for remaining within this budget. A key finding is that a target date for zero carbon is not sufficient to determine whether the UK remains within its carbon budget. 

Read the full paper on the CUSP website:

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Behind the scenes of Ikea's environmental sustainability pledge by Patrick Elf

Late last year, Ikea unveiled plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its production systems by 80% in absolute terms by 2030 from their levels two years ago. University of Surrey's Patrick Elf provides an in-depth overview of Ikea's Live Lagom project, which provided the basis for its ambitious sustainability commitment.

Late last year, in the run-up to the COP 24 climate policy conference in Katowice, Inter Ikea chief executive Torbjorn Loof announced that he hopes for “a leadership that steps up, sets clear targets and dares to nail a number of commitments without us having all the solutions”.

Article by Patrick Elf

See the full article in the Retail Gazette

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Facilitating Positive Spillover Effects: New insights from a mixed-methods approach exploring factors enabling people to live more sustainable lifestyles

This paper presents findings of a 1-year longitudinal behaviour change project led by a commercial retailer in the United Kingdom and Ireland to examine behaviour change and potential spillover of pro-environmental behaviour, and how this may be associated with changes in environmental identity and perceptions of ease and affordability as well as perceptions of how participation in the project has helped support behaviour change.

Article by Patrick Elf, Birgitte Gaterslaben and Ian Christie and is openly available via Frontiers in Psychology


Higher Wages for Sustainable Development?—Employment and Carbon Effects of Paying a Living Wage in Global Apparel Supply Chains

In this paper we explore how paying a living wage in global supply chains might affect employment and carbon emissions:  Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 13. Previous work has advocated using wage increases for poorer workers to increase prices for wealthier consumers, thereby reducing consumption and associated environmental damage.

Article by Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson and is openly available on the Science Direct website

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Social hotspot analysis and trade policy implications of the use of bioelectrochemical systems for resource recovery from wastewater

Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) have been catalogued as a technological solution to three pressing global challenges: environmental pollution, resource scarcity, and freshwater scarcity. This study explores the social risks along the supply chain of requisite components of BESs for two functionalities: (i) copper recovery from spent lees and (ii) formic acid production via CO2 reduction, based on the UK’s trade policy.

Read the full article (PDF).

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Mathematical modelling of moisture migration in confectionery multi-component food systems

Moisture migration occurring during storage in multicomponent food systems is one of the most common problems facing the food manufacturing industry. An example for such a food system is a mass of ice cream in contact with a wafer. In this work, a dynamic moisture migration model for a confectionery food system consisting of a wafer separated by a moisture barrier from a high water activity component (e.g. ice cream) is developed. The 1D diffusion equation was solved for the barrier and wafer each having different transport properties. The developed model predicts the moisture content of the wafer in different locations throughout the product’s shelf life.

Authors: Paschalia Mavrou, Rex Thorpe, William Frith, Guoping Lian, Tao Chen

Full article available via ScienceDirect

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Ecological public health, sustainable health care system and cities: What would be the implications of adopting an ecosocial approach to health care?

The health care sector’s role in improving environmental sustainability of cities is included in the Healthy Cities paradigm. However, what would be the implications of adopting an ecosocial approach to health care?

Authors: Andre Preissler Loureiro Chaves.

Read the full article on the Taylor and Francis website.

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Can the SDGs provide a basis for supply chain decisions in the construction sector?

The construction sector is characterised by complex supply networks delivering unique end products over short time scales. Sustainability has increased in importance but continues to be difficult to implement in this sector; thus, new approaches and practices are needed.

Authors: Roland Clift, Jacquetta Lee, Erica Russell.

About the paper on Surrey Research Insight Open Access.

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Redefining scope: the true environmental impact of smartphones?

The aim of this study is to explore the literature surrounding the environmental impact of mobile phones and the implications of moving from the current business model of selling, using and discarding phones to a product service system based upon a cloud service.

The exploration of the impacts relating to this shift and subsequent change in scope is explored in relation to the life cycle profile of a typical smartphone.

Authors: James Suckling, Jacquetta Lee.

About the paper on Springer Link.

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The energy efficiency behaviour of individuals in large organisations: A case study of a major UK infrastructure operator

Energy consumption behaviours are gradually becoming better-understood. However, there is still a deficit in terms of knowledge of individuals’ energy-use behaviours in organisations, despite a variety of available theories.

This paper addresses this need in three main stages, based on a survey among mid-level managers at a major infrastructure operator in Great Britain.

Authors: Rupert Zierler, Walter Wehrmeyer, Richard Murphy.

About the case study on ScienceDirect.

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