Dr Jacquetta Lee
Academic and research departmentsCentre for Environment and Sustainability.
Dr Lee has a MEng in Mechanical Engineering and Materials and holds a PhD in Environmental Systems Analysis from Cranfield University. Prior to joining the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey, she worked for Rolls-Royce plc in their Environmental Strategy Department, specialising in Life Cycle Assessment and Design for Environment.
On joining academia in 2003, she spent two years as a Leverhulme Special Research Fellow, investigating the potential for television to influence environmental behaviour of consumers. Dr Lee has a holistic approach to sustainability systems analysis, incorporating environmental and social aspects from both academic and industrial perspectives. She has over 25 years of experience across a diverse range of industrial sectors including aerospace, electronics, construction, agriculture, fast moving consumer goods market, automotive, nanotechnology, architecture, and nuclear energy.
As Director of the Practitioner Doctorate in Sustainability Programme and Reader in Sustainable Systems Analysis at the at the University of Surrey, Dr Lee is responsible for engaging major industry leaders and high calibre postgraduate researchers to work collaboratively on specific research briefs designed to resolve current sustainability issues within industry. This innovative programme offers an unparalleled opportunity, uniting academia and industry to develop solutions that will have enduring value for individual organisations, industry and governance.
University roles and responsibilities
- Associate Director of the Practitioner Doctorate Programme in Sustainability
Affiliations and memberships
Current areas of research interest include the operationalisation of absolute sustainability through:
- Business appropriate mid-point indicators for Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis
- The development of Stock and Flow (Performance Economy) diagrams for decision making in business
- Social life cycle assessment approaches
- Using internet trends to optimise the circular economy.
I am leading research into reducing uncertainty in early design decision making within aerospace, and improving resource efficiency in the electronics industry.
- Life cycle thinking and approaches
- Environmental life cycle assessment (eLCA)
- Design for Environment/Sustainability
The Planetary Boundaries (PB) framework represents a significant advance in specifying the ecological constraints on human development. However, to enable decision-makers in business and public policy to respect these constraints in strategic planning, the PB framework needs to be developed to generate practical tools. With this objective in mind, we analyse the recent literature and highlight three major scientific and technical challenges in operationalizing the PB approach in decision-making: first, identification of thresholds or boundaries with associated metrics for different geographical scales; second, the need to frame approaches to allocate fair shares in the ‘safe operating space’ bounded by the PBs across the value chain and; third, the need for international bodies to co-ordinate the implementation of the measures needed to respect the Planetary Boundaries. For the first two of these challenges, we consider how they might be addressed for four PBs: climate change, freshwater use, biosphere integrity and chemical pollution and other novel entities. Four key opportunities are identified: (1) development of a common system of metrics that can be applied consistently at and across different scales; (2) setting ‘distance from boundary’ measures that can be applied at different scales; (3) development of global, preferably open-source, databases and models; and (4) advancing understanding of the interactions between the different PBs. Addressing the scientific and technical challenges in operationalizing the planetary boundaries needs be complemented with progress in addressing the equity and ethical issues in allocating the safe operating space between companies and sectors.
This paper describes the challenges faced, and opportunities identified, by a multidisciplinary team of researchers developing a novel closed loop system to recover valuable metals and reduce e-waste, focusing on mobile phones as a case study. This multidisciplinary approach is contrasted with current top-down approaches to making the transition to the circular economy (CE). The aim of the research presented here is to develop a product service system (PSS) that facilitates the recovery of valuable functional components and metals from mobile phone circuit boards. To create a holistic solution and limit unintended consequences, in addition to technological solutions, this paper considers appropriate component lifetimes; the (often ignored) role of the citizen in the circular economy; customer interaction with the PSS; environmental life cycle assessment; and social impacts of the proposed PSS. Development of enabling technologies and materials to facilitate recovery of components and metals and to provide an emotionally durable external enclosure is described. This research also highlights the importance of understanding value in the CE from a multifaceted and interdisciplinary perspective.
Low lying states of neutron-rich 32Ne were populated by means of one- and two-proton knock- out reactions at the RIKEN Radioactive Isotope Beam Factory. A new transition is observed at 1410(15) keV and assigned to the 4+ 1 → 2+ 1 decay. With this energy the R4/2 ratio is calculated to be 2.99(6), lying close to the rigid rotor limit and suggests a high degree of collectivity and strongest deformation among neutron-rich Neon isotopes. Comparisons of experimental inclusive and exclu- sive reaction cross sections with shell model and eikonal reaction dynamical calculations reveals considerable quenching for this highly asymmetric system and contributes to systematic trends.
A secure supply of raw materials plays a vital role in the rapid growth of emerging technologies. The criticality assessment has been introduced to evaluate the supply risk of materials from economic, social and environmental aspects. From business perspective, multiple critical metrics should be involved, so that the decision makers can focus on the different metrics and put efforts to minimize the corresponding risks. However, due to the complexity of assessment and uncertainties in data sources, some metrics cannot be evaluated quantitatively, but qualitatively. This paper introduces a fuzzy linguistic approach to evaluate multiple risk metrics for material criticality assessment. The risk levels and the importance weight of metrics, expressed in linguistic terms, are modeled by triangular or trapezoid membership functions. We apply this method to evaluate the criticality of three materials: Cobalt, Tungsten, and Yttrium. We use matrix operation to aggregate the MFs of the multiple metrics in order to represent the overall criticality. As a result, the three materials are ranked according to their critical levels. The proposed fuzzy linguistic approach shows the advantage to evaluate the criticality with multi-criteria when only qualitative data is available. The membership function is an appropriate way to represent linguistic terms with imprecision, which are commonly used to interpret risk terms. The definition of multiple metrics provides flexibility for the users to choose risk categories they are interested in, and the aggregation of the metrics supports them to compare the criticality of materials. Further study may focus on how to justify importance weight judgments to make tradeoff decision, or integrate temporal factor to predict the future critical risk for business purpose.
Most data-based studies require significant amounts of data to support their decision-making process. Apart from increasing data quantity, scientists tend to be aware of the quality of data that influences the robustness of the results. A Pedigree matrix method is presented to characterize the data quality aspects and quantify the quality rating. Five quality aspects (reliability, completeness, temporal, geographical and technological representativeness) are defined as the characteristics to describe how well the reference data is fit for the underlying study. Reference rules are made subjectively for allocating the quality rating, which enable the computer to select appropriate data effectively from among different data sources. The overall data quality rating is calculated reflecting the quality level and converted to the four-parameter Beta probability distribution for uncertainty quantification. This is complemented by the Monte Carlo simulation that identifies uncertainty hotspots, to further improve the quality of identified data. This study provides an effective way to identify the data of good quality through the definition of reference rules. Making such rules can help the users to effectively capture the descriptive information regarding the data quality, further assess the quality levels consistently. The four-parameter Beta distribution is used for quantitative transformation, since it is appropriate to represent expert judgement. Therefore, the definition of distribution parameters is flexible depending on the expert understanding of uncertainty. This strength extends the application of the method to different data systems. Further research can focus on the development of reference rules for different quality aspects, as well the integration of the Pedigree matrix in various data systems.
Within the aerospace industry there is a growing interest in evaluating and reducing the environmental impacts of products and related risks to business. Consequently, requests from governments, customers, manufacturers, and other interested stakeholders, for environmental information about aerospace products are becoming widespread. Presently, requests are inconsistent and this limits the ability of the aerospace industry to meet the informational needs of various stakeholders and reduce the environmental impacts of their products in a cost-effective manner. Energy consumption is a significant business cost, risk, and a simple proxy value for overall environmental impact. This paper presents the initial research carried out by an academic and industry consortium to develop standardised methods for calculating and reporting the embodied manufacturing energy content of aerospace products. Following an action research approach, three potential methods are identified and applied in a real manufacturing environment. Suitability for use across the aerospace value chain is assessed. The benefits, implementations issues, areas of data uncertainty, and differences in results are outlined. Results show companies could be over/under reporting the embodied manufacturing energy content of parts by a factor of 10. The subsequent business and EU policy implications for industry reporting and evaluating product risks are discussed. The paper concludes the novel research outcomes will be valuable to businesses and other interested stakeholders seeking to report or understand the embodied energy content of aerospace products and associated data uncertainty, as well as inform the development of future industry standards.
The power system needs flexible electricity generators. Whilst electricity generation from anaerobic digestion (AD) of sewage sludge has traditionally been baseload, transforming the generation capacity into a modern flexible operator is an opportunity to further valorise the resource. This work aims to demonstrate that AD of sewage sludge can support flexible generation and be operated dynamically in a relevant operational environment, to promote full scale implementation. A demonstration scale plant (20 m3 conventional AD reactors) was used to test several feeding regimes designed to return a biogas production rate that matches the demand. Two demand profiles are defined, either by common corporate power purchase agreements or by the main balancing mechanism used by the grid operator in UK. Demand-driven biogas production is demonstrated in this relevant operational environment, and the flexibilisation performance is positive in all scenarios. The value of the biogas increases by up to 2%, which outperforms the results obtained at pilot scale. Additionally, an increase in biogas yield is observed. Whilst transitional imbalances are recorded, they last for few hours and the overall stability is not affected. In conclusion, these trials demonstrate demand-driven biogas production is a feasible operational solution and full-scale implementation is possible.
The mobile phone industry is based upon the rapid development of handsets and the high turnover of devices in order to drive sales. Phones are often used for shorter periods of time than their designed life, and when discarded it is often through channels that result in lost resource. This unsustainable business model places strain on resources and creates adverse environmental and social impacts. Through interrogation of a stock and flow model, a product-service system (PSS) for a small consumer electronic device, a mobile telephone, is proposed. The points at which value may be extracted from the PSS are identified. A quantitative measure of value is proposed in order to allow the evaluation of the most appropriate time to extract it. This value is not solely monetary, but is derived from the combination of indicators which encompass environmental, economic, and technological factors. A worked example is presented, in which it is found that the precious metals within the phone are the main determinants for value extraction. These metals are found in the printed circuit board, leading to a requirement to design phones for ease of extraction of these components in order to access the value within.
Hibernation, the dead storage period when a mobile phone is still retained by the user at its end-of-life, is both a common and a significant barrier to the effective flow of time-sensitive stock value within a circular economic model. In this paper we present the findings of a survey of 181 mobile phone owners, aged between 18–25 years old, living and studying in the UK, which explored mobile phone ownership, reasons for hibernation, and replacement motives. This paper also outlines and implements a novel mechanism for quantifying the mean hibernation period based on the survey findings. The results show that only 33.70% of previously owned mobile phones were returned back into the system. The average duration of ownership of mobile phones kept and still in hibernation was 4 years 11 months, with average use and hibernation durations of 1 year 11 months, and 3 years respectively; on average, mobile phones that are kept by the user are hibernated for longer than they are ever actually used as primary devices. The results also indicate that mobile phone replacement is driven primarily by physical (technological, functional and absolute) obsolescence, with economic obsolescence, partly in response to the notion of being ‘due an upgrade’, also featuring significantly. We also identify in this paper the concept of a secondary phone, a recently replaced phone that holds a different function for the user than their primary phone but is still valued and intentionally retained by the user, and which, we conclude, should be accounted for in any reverse logistics strategy.
The aim of this work was to study the potentials and benefits of dynamic biogas production from Anaerobic Digestion (AD) of sewage sludge. The biogas production rate was aimed to match the flexible demand for electricity generation and so appropriate feeding regimes were calculated and tested in both pilot and demonstration scale. The results demonstrate that flexibilization capability exists for both conventional AD and advanced AD using Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP) as pre-treatment. Whilst the former provides lower capability, flexible biogas production was achieved by the latter, as it provides a quick response. In all scenarios, the value of the biogas converted into electricity is higher than with a steady operational regime, increasing by 3.6% on average (up to 5.0%) in conventional and by 4.8% on average (up to 7.1%) with THP. The process has proven scalable up to 18m3 digester capacity in operational conditions like those in full scale.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to report the results of testing a new approach to strategic sustainability and resilience – Sustainable Resilient Strategic Decision-Support (SuReSDS™). Design/methodology/approach The approach was developed and tested using action-research case studies at industrial companies. It successfully allowed the participants to capture different types of value affected by their choices, optimise each strategy’s resilience against different future scenarios and compare the results to find a “best” option. Findings SuReSDS™ enabled a novel integration of environmental and social sustainability into strategy by considering significant risks or opportunities for an enhanced group of stakeholders. It assisted users to identify and manage risks from different kinds of sustainability-related uncertainty by applying resilience techniques. Users incorporated insights into real-world strategies. Research limitations/implications Since the case studies and test organisations are limited in number, generalisation from the results is difficult and requires further research. Practical implications The approach enables companies to utilise in-house and external experts more effectively to develop sustainable and resilient strategies. Originality/value The research described develops theories linking sustainability and resilience for organisations, particularly for strategy, to provide a new consistent, rigorous and flexible approach for applying these theories. The approach has been tested successfully and benefited real-world strategy decisions.
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. This paper reports an empirical investigation into the value of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG12), when used as a framework for action by organisations to drive change towards sustainability in global supply networks. Through inductive research, two different and contrasting approaches to improving the sustainability of supply networks have been revealed. One approach focuses on the “bottom up” ethical approach typified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification of timber products, and the other on “top-down” regulations exemplified by the UK Modern Slavery Act. In an industry noted for complex supply networks and characterised by adversarial relationships, the findings suggest that, in the long term, promoting shared values aligned with transparent, third-party monitoring will be more effective than imposing standards through legislation and regulation in supporting sustainable consumption and production.
Activated carbons have excellent performance in a number of process applications. In particular, they appear to have the most favourable characteristics for adsorption processes, thanks to their high porosity and large surface area. However, a comprehensive assessment of the environmental impacts of their manufacturing chain is still lacking. This study evaluates these impacts taking the specific case of activated carbon produced from coconut shells in Indonesia, which is the major coconut producer county. Coconut shells as raw materials are utilized for activated carbon production due to their abundant supply, high density and purity, and because they seem to have a clear environmental advantage over coal-based carbons, particularly in terms of acidification potential, non-renewable energy demand and carbon footprint. Life Cycle Assessment and process analysis are used to quantify all the environmental interactions over the stages of the life cycle of an activated carbon manufacturing chain, in terms of inputs of energy and natural resources and of outputs of emissions to the different environmental compartments. Estimates for the environmental burdens over the life cycle have been obtained by developing mass and energy balances for each of the process units in the production chain. The results indicate the operations with the greatest effects on the environmental performance of activated carbon production and hence where improvements are necessary. In particular, using electrical energy produced from renewable sources, such as biomass, would reduce the contributions to human toxicity (by up to 60%) and global warming (by up to 80%). Moreover, when the material is transported for processing in a country with a low-carbon electricity system, the potential human toxicity and global warming impacts can be reduced by as much as 90% and 60% respectively.
Every year in Europe refrigerant gases with a greenhouse-warming equivalent of more than 30 Mt CO2 are emitted from retail refrigerators. Furthermore, the effective efficiency of such refrigerators is far below that achievable under ideal (e.g. optimal-load; minimum access) operation. In this work the design of an alternative on-demand cooling unit is presented. The unit is based on the cooling effect provided by desorption of carbon dioxide previously adsorbed onto a bed of graphite-bonded activated carbon: in this paper, a case study of a self-chilling beverage can is used to demonstrate the technology. The high compaction of the activated carbon, and the presence of graphite, enhances the heat transfer properties of the adsorbent, thus enhancing the efficiency of cooling. Furthermore, potential exists for the use of activated carbon and CO2 from waste sources. This paper provides an overview of the design basis and environmental advantages of the unit, and experimental and simulation studies on the thermal dynamics of the cooling process. Particular attention is given to the effective thermal conductivity of the activated carbon bed. The results indicate that adequate on-demand cooling can be achieved within a portable unit. However, scope exists for enhancing the heat transfer within the cooling chamber through design and bed composition alterations. Recommendations for improved unit design are presented.
Purpose: 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. Methods: A literature study is conducted into the existing literature in order to define the characteristics of a “typical” smartphone. Focus is given to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in different life cycle phases in line with that reported in the majority of literature. Usage patterns from literature are presented in order to show how a smartphone is increasingly responsible for not only data consumption, but also data generation. The subsequent consequences of this for the balance of the life cycle phases are explored with the inclusion of wider elements in the potential expanded mobile infrastructure, such as servers and the network. Result & Discussions: From the available literature the manufacturing phase is shown to dominate the life cycle of a “typical” smartphone for GHG emissions. Smartphone users are shown to be increasingly reliant upon the internet for provision of their communications. Adding a server into the scope of a smartphone is shown to increase the use phase impact from 8.5 kgCO2-eq to 18.0 kgCO2-eq, other phases are less affected. Addition of the network increases the use phase by another 24.7 kgCO2-eq. In addition, it is shown that take-back of mobile phones is not effective at present and that prompt return of the phones could result in reduction in impact by best reuse potential and further reduction in toxic emissions through inappropriate disposal. Conclusions: The way in which consumers interact with their phones is changing, leading to a system which is far more integrated with the internet. A product service system based upon a cloud service highlights the need for improved energy efficiency to make greatest reduction in GHG emissions in the use phase, and gives a mechanism to exploit residual value of the handsets by timely return of the phones, their components and recovery of materials.
There is a limited penetration of housing which offsets all operational carbon emissions within UK housing developer portfolios. This paper develops a balanced approach to zero carbon housing design from both architectural and national house builder perspectives. The paper discusses the techniques which can be used to reduce build costs, simplify designs and simplify renewable energy systems, resulting in more cost effective homes. The paper develops a technical and economic linked model to optimise a zero carbon design and then develops a home using this technique. It acknowledges that extra costs are inevitable but minimises them and details a lifecycle costing approach to provide economic justification. The paper then focuses on how the building designed can function more efficiently and economically than a Part L 2013 Building Regulation compliant building. Improved functionality is demonstrated both with and without the use of feed in tariffs. A key finding from this research is that zero carbon homes can benefit the consumer without impacting the developer. The results also demonstrate that homes could be better marketed on economic rather than environmental or technical attributes.
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Facing issues related to innovative production and public requirement in sustainability, companies expect to develop an effective tool to integrate environmental aspects into their business strategies at product design stage. Although life cycle assessment is commonly used to evaluate the environmental impacts of products or services, it is time consuming, expensive and may produce irrelevant information for business decision making. Eco-design approach, as alternative, requires less efforts for data acquisition and evaluation, and utilises a wide range of indicators that meet business demand. This study develops a matrix-based tool to capture environmental information related to business according to industry engagement. This life cycle thinking-based approach focuses on more relevant environmental information, and provides effectively data to support business strategy. In addition, this approach is practical and flexible to be used at the early design stage where data capture is generally difficult. Finally, it helps the managers to identify data gaps, so that it stimulates further investments in searching more targeted data.
Mobile phones offer many potential social benefits throughout their lifetime, but this life is often much shorter than design intent. Reuse of the phone in a developing country allows these social benefits to be fully realized. Unfortunately, under the current state of development of recycling infrastructure, recovery rates of phones after reuse are very low in those markets, which may lead to an environmental burden due to loss of materials to landfill. In order to recover those materials most effectively, recycling in developed countries may be the best option, but at a cost of the ability to reuse the phones. The issues facing integration of social and environmental concerns into a single life cycle assessment and resulting challenges of identifying the disposal option with the most sustainable outcome are explored using mobile phones as a case study. These include obtaining sufficient geographical and temporal detail of the end of life options, the collation and analysis of the large amounts of data generated and the weighting of the disparate environmental and social impact categories. The numerous challenges may mount up to make performing life cycle assessment of mobile phones unwieldy. Instead of trying to encompass every aspect in full, it is proposed that focus is given to answering a question which takes into account the resources available: it is important to ask the question which has the best chance of being answered.
Amidst the great technological progress being made in the field of nanotechnology, we are confronted by both conventional and novel environmental challenges and opportunities. Several gaps exist in the present state of knowledge or experience with nanomaterials. Understanding and managing the uncertainties that these gaps cause in LCAs is essential. Traditionally used for more established technology systems, environmental LCA is now being applied to nanomaterials by policy-makers, researchers and industry. However, the aleatory (variability) and epistemic (system process) uncertainties in LCAs of nanomaterials need to be handled correctly and communicated in the analysis. Otherwise, the results risk being misinterpreted, misguiding decision-making processes and could lead to significant detrimental effects for industry, research and policy-making. Here, we review current life cycle assessment literature for carbon nanotubes, and identify the key sources of uncertainty that need to be taken into consideration. These include: the potential for non-equivalency between mass and toxicity (potentially requiring inventory and impact models to be adjusted); the use of proxy data to bridge gaps in inventory data; and the often very wide ranges in material performance, process energy and product lifetimes quoted.