Global impacts of energy demand on the freshwater resources of nations

CIE-MAP researcher Kate Scott published a paper in PNAS on understanding the roles of energy production and international trade in driving pressures on (often scarce) freshwater resources. The authors coupled a trade and hydrological model to examine pressures on freshwater resources associated with energy production across the global economy. While the electric and gas sectors induce freshwater consumption predominantly within countries where demand originates (91% and 81%, respectively), the petroleum sector exhibits a high international footprint (56%). The analysis demonstrates the importance of broadening the discourse on energy policy from greenhouse gas emissions to address issues including freshwater scarcity, the role of international trade, and wider environmental and societal considerations.

Dr Anne Owen participates in OECD-UNEP Workshop in Paris


On the 20th – 21st October Anne Owen attended an OECD-UNEP Expert Workshop on demand-based measures of material flows. The meeting was held at the OECD in Paris and explored two different measurement methods for estimating raw materials embodied in international trade: a pure input-output based methodology using 3 different multi-regional input-output databases; and a hybrid methodology using the OECD Inter Country Input-Output database in combination with raw material coefficients. The purpose of the meeting was to provide expert advice on the most appropriate method for measuring demand-based material flows in an international context, to guide related work at the OECD, and to pave the way for a consensus among international organisations on the approach to use. As part of the whole systems analysis research undertaken as part of the CIEMAP work programme, we aim to develop a UK focused database that will allow calculation of the materials required to satisfy UK demand. The discussions and connections made at the workshop will help steer the data selected and development of the UK focused database.


Construction sector views on low carbon building materials

A new research paper written by Jannik Giesekam and John Barrett has been published in the October 2015 edition of Building Research and Information. The paper is titled ‘Construction sector views on low carbon building materials‘.

As is the case in a number of countries, the UK construction industry faces the challenge of expanding production whilst making ambitious greenhouse gas emission reductions. Embodied carbon constitutes a growing proportion of whole-life carbon emissions and accounts for a significant share of total UK emissions. A key mitigation strategy is increasing the use of alternative materials with lower embodied carbon. The economic, technical, practical and cultural barriers to the uptake of these alternatives are explored through a survey of construction professionals and interviews with industry leaders. Perceptions of high cost, ineffective allocation of responsibility, industry culture, and the poor availability of product and building-level carbon data and benchmarks constitute significant barriers. Opportunities to overcome these barriers include earlier engagement of professionals along the supply chain, effective use of whole-life costing, and changes to contract and tender documents. A mounting business case exists for addressing embodied carbon, but has yet to be effectively disseminated. In the meantime, the moral convictions of individual clients and practitioners have driven early progress. However, this research underscores the need for new regulatory drivers to complement changing attitudes if embodied carbon is to be established as a mainstream construction industry concern.


Sarah Turner: Eco-Artist and designer through craft-based upcycling

A new research paper written by Kyungeun Sung and Tim Cooper has been published in the March 2015 edition of Craft Research. The article is titled Sarah Turner-Eco Artist And Designer Through Craft Based Upcycling

Abstract: Sarah Turner is an eco-artist and designer who practices craft-based upcycling with waste plastic bottles and cans to create lighting, sculpture and decorative home interior products. Since 1998, her enthusiasm, creativity and good will have allowed her to gain several high-profile client commissions and to win awards from design, innovation and business competitions. The aim of this portrait is to introduce Sarah’s work and shed light on the resources, knowledge and skills involved in her practice and on the barriers to and drivers for her craft-based upcycling. We consider that Sarah’s work could be one of the stepping stones for a shift towards more sustainable craft practice, both in the United Kingdom and beyond. By exploring the right ingredients for craft-based upcycling, barriers liable to be faced and key drivers that stimulate motivation, we hope that this portrait will inspire and attract more designers and makers to embed upcycling in their future practice.

Nottingham Trent host Product Lifetimes and the Environment conference

Naomi Braithwaite, Tim Cooper, Alex Rodrigues, John Rogers and Kyungeun Sung presented at the first PLATE (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) conference.

From the 17 -19 June NTU hosted the inaugural PLATE conference.  Over 3 days 66 papers and 6 workshops, drawn from an international and multi-disciplinary perspective, debated the conference’s main themes which included strategies for product lifetime optimisation and consumer influences on product lifetimes. 110 delegates from 16 countries attended PLATE. The PLATE exhibition ran alongside the conference, showcasing work from delegates, NTU staff and students, as well as designers, artists and social businesses. Here the topic of product longevity was explored in innovative ways through prototypes, objects, photographs, film and other mediums.

The conference included the presentation of ongoing CIE-MAP research from a number of centre members. Naomi Braithwaite’s paper, co-authored with Mariale Moreno and Danielle Densley-Tingley, explored the feasibility of durability labelling for washing machines and considered how  this may impact industry and consumer behaviour.  Drawing from initial findings from interviews with industry professionals Alex Rodrigues discussed barriers and opportunities for designing cars with longer lifespans.  Cars were also the focus of John Rogers and Alex’s paper that explored product leasing as a strategy for elongating product life. The reasons why vehicles are scrapped and the implications for this on longevity were further debated during John’s workshop. Kyungeun Sung presented her work that is exploring the links between individual upcycling, product attachment and product longevity.

CIE-MAP’s research programme set the context for Tim Cooper’s workshop: ‘Policies for Longevity’. A panel of policy and academic experts debated with delegates the role that policy could have in overcoming barriers towards product lifetimes.

PLATE 2015 Proceedings


Green Alliance publish two new policy insight reports focused on a resilient economy

CIE-MAP’s research partner Green Alliance have published two new policy insight reports.

The first focuses on Managing resources for a resilient economy, providing a fresh view of how to tackle the economic and business challenges of managing resources in a global market.
It is aimed at those involved in managing resource risk, including business, investors, portfolio managers and government. It applies tried and tested approaches to risk used by financial analysts to resource management, providing important lessons in dealing with price volatility and uncertainties around critical resources. Crucially, it identifies the risk management advantages of resource efficient approaches, and especially circular economy models.

The second report focuses on The social benefits of a circular economy, and outlines the myriad benefits of a circular economy including increased employment, skill development, and product sustainability.

Green Alliance is a charity and independent think tank focused on ambitious leadership for the environment. We have a track record of over 35 years, working with the most influential leaders from the NGO, business, and political communities. Our work generates new thinking and dialogue, and has increased political action and support for environmental solutions in the UK.

Sustainable routes to satisfying the World’s growing demand for goods

A new research paper written by John Rogers and Samuel Cooper has been published in the proceedings of the Global Conference on Energy and Sustainable Development 2015. The conference was held in Coventry from the 24th to the 26th of February 2015, and the paper is titled ‘Product Renovation and shared ownership: Sustainable routes to satisfying the World’s growing demand for goods’. 

Abstract: It has been estimated that by 2030 the number of people who are wealthy enough to be considered as middle class consumers will have tripled. This will have a dramatic impact on the demands for primary materials and energy. Much work has been carried out on sustainable ways of meeting the World’s energy demands and some work has been carried out on the sustainable production and consumption of goods. It has been estimated that with improvements in design and manufacturing it is possible to reduce the primary material requirements by 30% to produce the current demand for goods. Whilst this is a crucial step on the production side, there will still be a doubling of primary material requirements by the end of the century because of an absolute rise in demand for goods and services. It is therefore clear that the consumption of products must also be explored. This is a key areas of research for the UK INDEMAND centre, which is investigating ways of reducing the UK’s industrial energy demand and demand for energy intensive materials. Our ongoing work shows that two strategies would result in considerable reductions in the demand for primary materials: product longevity and using goods more intensively ( which may requires increased durability). Product longevity and durability are not new ideas, but ones that can be applied across a raft of goods as methods of reducing the consumption of materials. With long life products there is a potential risk of outdated design and obsolescence, consequently there is a need to ensure upgradability and adaptability are incorporated at the design stage. If products last longer, then the production of new products can be diverted to emerging markets rather than the market for replacement goods. There are many goods which are only used occasionally, these goods do not normally wear out. The total demand for such could be drastically reduced if they were shared with other people. Sharing of goods has traditionally been conducted between friends or by hiring equipment. The use of modern communication systems and social media could enable the development of sharing co-ops and swap spaces that will increase the utilisation of goods and hence reduce the demand for new goods. This could also increase access to a range of goods for those on low incomes. From a series of workshops it has been found that the principal challenges are sociological rather than technological. This paper contains a discussion of these challenges and explores possible futures where these two strategies have been adopted. In addition, the barriers and opportunities that these strategies offer for consumers and businesses are identified, and areas where government policy could be instigated to bring about change are highlighted.

Integrating resource efficiency into climate mitigation policy in the EU

The 11th International Conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE) was held at Leeds University on 30 June – 3 July 2015, with around 500 people attending. Kate Scott presented ongoing CIE-MAP research demonstrating how a greater integration of resource efficiency with climate change mitigation policy can contribute substantially to abating EU consumption-driven emissions. Current climate policy fails to address the link between resource consumption and embodied emissions, which can offset domestic emissions reductions due to emissions embodied in imports. Recognising the synergies between material consumption and emissions, and the importance of international trade in the environmental performance of countries, our research analyses the emissions associated with resource consumption in the EU: how much originate outside the EU; how many are captured within existing EU climate policy; how much additional emissions could EU climate policy capture by extending its energy efficiency policies to address the embodied impacts of products; and how much of the EU’s legislative emissions reductions could these deliver.

Download Kate’s presentation here.

Jonathan Norman co-authors study on UK steel demand

Jonathan Norman was co-author of a study on Options to supply the UK steel demand and meet the CO2 targets presented by André Cabrera Serrenho of the University of Cambridge at the International Society of Industrial Ecology’s 2015 Conference. The work examined how different methods of steel production in the UK would combine with national energy pathways and effect future production and consumption emissions associated with steel. A journal article on this work is currently under review.

Further details:

1 8 9 10 11