Sustainable systems

Building on our international reputation in environmental systems analysis to continue to develop and apply a range of interdisciplinary tools for the analysis, design and management of sustainable technologies, systems and infrastructures.

Tools for analysis and design

This theme builds on the long standing strengths of our Centre in environmental systems analysis, linking to complementary expertise across the campus. The intention is to further develop a range of analytic and modelling tools and techniques for sustainability, informed by the conceptual and empirical research of the social research on sustainability theme.

Expertise in established techniques such as life cycle assessment, value chain analysis and industrial ecology are built upon to address the strong business and policy interest in areas such as carbon accounting (footprinting), and research will expand into a range of newer approaches such as dynamic simulation, agent-based modelling and approaches to uncertainty.

Topic areas

  • Decision support for sustainability in corporate investment and policy design
  • Infrastructure design and implementation - including sustainable cities, supply chains, integration of innovative service delivery
  • Sustainable energy systems and technologies - eg decentralised energy, bioenergy, consumer information, demand management and smart meters
  • Low carbon transitions - modelling a sustainable/low carbon society
  • Water resources management
  • Sustainable agriculture and food systems
  • Transport planning and design - including aviation
  • Commodity and resource flows and waste management - eg electronic goods, construction.

Research projects

This is a highlighted selection of projects we are and have been working on.

Active projects

Completed projects

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Start date: February 2020

End date: June 2021

Start date: January 2020

End date: July 2023

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End date: July 2020

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End date: December 2020

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Other projects

  • AIA: Ashford’s Integrated Alternatives
  • Catalysing self-sustaining sanitation chains in informal settlements (3K-SAN)
  • Flexnet: SUPERGEN Flexible Network Technologies
  • Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)
  • Polygeneration of Energy
  • REDUCE: Reshaping Energy Demand of Users by Communication Technology and Economic Incentives
  • ReVISIONS: Regional Visions of Integrated Sustainable Infrastructure Optimised for NeighbourhoodS
  • Socio-economic adaptation to climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Sustainable income standards: towards a greener minimum?
  • SYMPACT: Tools for assessing the systemic impact of technology deployments on energy use and climate emissions
  • TECHNEAU: Technology to enable universal access to safe water
  • Transition pathways to a low carbon economy
  • Building sustainable local nexuses of food, energy and water: from smart engineering to shared prosperity (The Local Nexus Network)
  • CAYSEED: Community Action in Controlling Yam Diseases and Pests in West Africa through High Quality Seed & Improved Agronomic Practices
  • Closed Loop Emotionally Valuable E-waste Recovery (CLEVER)
  • Creative Outreach for Resource Efficiency (CORE)
  • Designer Catalysts for High Efficiency Biodiesel Production
  • Economic Value Generation and Social Welfare by Waste Biorefining
  • Evolution and Resilience of Industrial Ecosystems programme (ERIE)
  • Green Infrastructure Research Development for Stormwater and Air Quality
  • LocalPURE: Engineering localised synergetic production networks based on renewable resources
  • Realising Transition Pathways
  • Resource Recovery from Wastewater with Bioelectrochemical Systems
  • Yam Improvement for Income and Food security in West Africa (YIIFSWA).

Student projects

Our research takes place via our Environment and Sustainability PhD; grants awarded by the EPSRC and the ESRC and applied research via collaborations with industry.

Advancing knowledge and education in biorefinery

The Institution of Biorefinery Engineers, Scientists and Technologists aims to reduce the environmental impact of biorefinery, helping to alleviate poverty and mitigate climate change in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.