Focus areas

We have identified a set of ‘foundations’, or areas of focus, that encapsulate the sustainability research and activity at the University. 

Key focus areas

These reflect key outcomes or objectives for sustainability areas towards which much of the current research is directed and which are shaping future plans.

1. Life cycle assessment

A systems analysis approach to quantifying and representing environmental impacts of products/services, underpinning carbon, water and environmental foot-printing. Often used by industry and policy makers.

Under this foundation we include extended analyses such as:

  • Social life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle costing
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment
  • Supply and value chain analysis etc.

2. Food, energy, water (and nexus)

Research that encompasses diverse aspects of practice and policy for the development and management of these key underpinning provisioning services for sustainability.

The Nexus concept considers the interdependencies and interactions between the food, energy and water systems within the context of sustainable development. It reflects an approach to simultaneous, integrating thinking about these systems that transcends individual, isolated sectoral, policy and disciplinary silos.

3. Climate change science

Research on all aspects of the science of climate and especially climate change that impinge on earth systems and their functioning. The application of insights from this to inform policy and responses to climate change.

4. Sustainable living and behaviour

Research that considers the ways in which livelihoods and lifestyles impact on, and respond to, perspectives about living sustainably and well. Includes evaluation of the ways that human and systems behaviour can adjust to support sustainable living.

5. Industrial ecology and circular economy

Research on resource conservation and efficiency in industrial and business systems to reduce burdens on the environment. Includes evaluation and modelling of industrial ecosystems, waste management and recycling and business models.

6. Policy and development and governance

Research on concepts of sustainability e.g. UN sustainable development goals, absolute sustainability and planetary boundaries, corporate social and environmental responsibility that inform policy, civil society and business models. Includes support for, and analysis of, voluntary and regulatory schemes and policy impact analysis.

7. Pollution management and mitigation

Research focused on the harmful effects of anthropogenic emissions to water, land, air and human health. Includes systems analysis of pollution mitigation options and developments.