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Incorporating sustainability into research projects

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Since the 1970’s scientific publication concerning sustainability have increased from one to 11,962 in 2016. Like all activities, the research behind these publications have an indirect impact on the environment (resource use, vehicles etc). Researchers in the topic of sustainability have an onus to account for their own impacts as part of their work and where possible, implement interventions. A life-cycle approach is currently the most advanced method of assessing the impact of a group or organisation. In this study an organisational life cycle assessment (O-LCA) approach was applied to a research project which focused on sustainability in the aquaculture sector. The objectives of the study were to (i) determine the impact of a research project, (ii) determine impact reduction opportunities, and (iii) to assess the use of O-LCA as a project management tool for academic research groups and projects. The results of this study indicated that commuting had the greatest impact, followed by conferences. The alternative scenarios analysed indicated that reductions of 5-16% in greenhouse gas emissions could be feasibly achieved and that O-LCA approaches could be applied to help sustainably manage such projects.

Authors: Ronan Cooney, Alexandre Tahar, Eoghan Clifford

Additional Info

  • Topics of presentation: Design for Sustainable Materials and Energy
  • Venue: Italy


Cooney_Incorporating sustainability into research projects

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