My research project
Development of a sustainability assessment framework for asset management in the wastewater sector
My research aims to deliver a sustainability assessment tool using a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework. The water and wastewater sector are facing emerging challenges which complicate the asset management and investment decisions. The development of such a MCDA based tool will facilitate the identification of the most sustainable options by integrating multiple dimensions of sustainability into one framework, and therefore, providing extra decision support for the asset decision makers.
My research interests encompass a wide environmental related topics. With a strong environmental science background, I was particularly interested in air, water and soil pollution in terms of impacts and remediations. My research appetite has expanded to the greater sustainability science and its various assessment methods as those are increasing valuable for the corporations to provide an effective CSR monitoring scheme as well as assurances to stakeholders and the wider public.
There is a growing demand for an integrated assessment to identify and select asset management options based on sustainability in the wastewater industry. However, water companies are often not equipped with a rigorous methodology and sufficient resources to perform sustainability assessments. Although many frameworks and tools for sustainability assessment have been developed in academia, practical challenges such as feasibility and usability remain when implementing sustainability assessment methods to support corporate decision-making. This study developed a Multi-Criteria Analysis based framework to evaluate wastewater treatment processes from a sustainability perspective. This study firstly explored the decision and organizational context of a water company with preliminary interviews and then applied the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) with composite scores to evaluate wastewater technologies at a sewage treatment works. The preliminary interviews with stakeholders highlighted that the existing investment decisions were primarily driven by financial cost and compliance whilst calling for a wider consideration of other criteria. A selection of assessment criteria and indicators were then proposed to compare seven treatment technologies at a sewage treatment works. The results of composite scores indicated that the baseline activated sludge process (ASP) was the best option for this study. Experience from the development process highlighted usability, stakeholder engagement and the organizational context should all be considered as part of the design and implementation of the sustainability assessment. The insights from this study provide a valuable practical foundation for applying a multi-criteria approach to perform sustainability assessments and inform asset management decisions in the water company.
Ling,J., Germain,E., Murphy, R., Saroj, D. Designing a Sustainability Assessment Framework for Selecting Sustainable Wastewater Treatment Technologies in Corporate Asset Decisions. Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3831. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073831