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Systems Modeling Approaches to Physical Resource Management: An Industrial Ecology Perspective
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Industrial Ecology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2459-0311
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many of the present problems that we are facing arise as unanticipated side-effects of our own actions. Moreover, the solutions implemented to solve important problems often create new problems. To avoid unintended consequences, understanding complex systems is essential in devising policy instruments and in improving environmental management. Thus, this thesis investigated systems modeling approaches to under- stand complex systems and monitor the environmental performance of management actions. The overall aim of the work was to investigate the usefulness of different systems modeling approaches in supporting environmental management. A driver- based, pressure-oriented approach was adopted to investigate systems modeling tools. Material/substance flow analysis, environmental footprinting, input-output analysis, process-based dynamic modeling, and systems dynamics modeling approaches were applied in different cases to investigate strengths and weaknesses of the tools in generating an understanding of complex systems. Three modeling and accounting approaches were also tested at different systems scales to support environmental mon- itoring. Static modeling approaches were identified as fundamental to map, account, and monitor physical resource metabolism in production and consumption systems, whereas dynamic modeling showed strengths in understanding complex systems. The results suggested that dynamic modeling approaches should be conducted on top of static analysis to understand the complexity of systems when devising and testing policy instruments. To achieve proactive monitoring, a pressure-based assessment was proposed instead of the mainstream impact/state-based approach. It was also concluded that the LCA community should shift the focus of its assessments to pressures instead of impacts. 

Abstract [sv]

Många nuvarande miljö- och utvecklingsproblem har uppstått som oförutsedda biverkningar av människans egna handlingar. De lösningar som prövats har i sin tur ofta skapat  nya problem. Det därför viktigt att förstå hur komplexa system fungerar och att utforma styrmedel och ledningssystem som minimerar risken för oönskade bieffekter. Den här avhandling har använt olika modelleringsmetoder för att öka förståelsen för komplexa system och bidra med kunskaper om hur miljöprestanda och förvaltningsåtgärder kan följas upp på ett mer effektivt sätt. Det övergripande syftet med arbetet var att undersöka användbarheten av olika modelleringsmetoder för att effektivisera den fysiska resurshanteringen i samhället. I arbetet har ett flödesbaserat och aktörsinriktat arbetssätt (pressure based and driver oriented approach) använts i modelleringen.  Material- och substansflödesanalys, miljöfotavtryck, input-output analys, processbaserad dynamisk modellering och systemdynamiska modelleringsmetoder studerades för att undersöka styrkor och svagheter hos de olika metoderna/verktygen.  Tre olika modellerings- och redovisningsmetoder för att stödja miljöövervakning testades också i olika systemskalor. Statiska modelleringsmetoder (räkenskaper) identifierades som grundläggande för att kartlägga, kontoföra och övervaka den fysiska resursmetabolismen i produktions- och konsumtionssystem, medan dynamisk modellering visade sin styrka i att skapa förståelse för komplexa system. Resultaten pekar på att dynamiska modelleringsmetoder bör användas som ett komplement till statiska analyser för att förstå komplexiteten i systemen när man utformar och testar styrmedel. För att uppnå proaktiv övervakning bör flödesbaserade räkenskaper utnyttjas i större utsträckning i stället för den vanliga tillstånds- och påverkansövervakningen (state/impact monitoring). En viktig slutsats är därför att LCA-samfundet bör flytta fokus i sina bedömningar från påverkan till flöden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. , 74 p.
Series
, TRITA-IM-PHD 2016:04, 2016:04
Keyword [en]
Complex systems modeling, environmental accounting and monitoring, en- vironmental footprint, industrial ecology, pressure-based driver-oriented approach
Keyword [sv]
Modellering av komplexa system, miljöräkenskaper och miljöövervakning, miljöpåverkan, industriell ekologi, flödesbaserad övervakningaktörsorienterad strategi
National Category
Energy Systems Environmental Management
Research subject
Industrial Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-191327ISBN: ISBN: 978-91-7729-077-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-191327DiVA: diva2:956091
Public defence
2016-09-22, Sal F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20160830

Available from: 2016-08-30 Created: 2016-08-29 Last updated: 2016-08-30Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Towards Addressing Unintended Environmental Consequences: A Planning Framework
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards Addressing Unintended Environmental Consequences: A Planning Framework
2015 (English)In: Sustainable Development, ISSN 0968-0802, E-ISSN 1099-1719, Vol. 24, no 1, 1-17 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Efforts to decouple environmental impacts and resource consumption have been confounded by interactions and feedback between technical-economic, environmental and social aspects not considered prior to implementing improvement actions. This paper presents a planning framework that connects material flows and the socio-economic drivers that result in changes in these flows, in order to reduce conflicts between localized gains and global losses. The framework emphasizes the need for (i) having different settings of system boundaries (broader and narrower), (ii) explicitly accounting for causal relationships and feedback loops and (iii) identifying responsibilities between stakeholders (e.g. producers, consumers, collectors, recyclers, policy makers). Application of the framework is exemplified using the case of the global mobile phone product system. 'Product design and development' and 'Retailers and users as part of a collection system' were identified as central intervention points for implementing improvement strategies that included designing for longer life, designing for recycling and improving collection, designing for limiting phone hibernation time and internalizing external costs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2015
Keyword
Global sustainability, Physical resource management, Planning, Sustainable development, Systems thinking, Unintended environmental consequences
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-176245 (URN)10.1002/sd.1601 (DOI)000370661900001 ()2-s2.0-84958121991 (ScopusID)
Note

QC 20151116. QC 20160319

Available from: 2015-11-16 Created: 2015-11-02 Last updated: 2016-08-29Bibliographically approved
2. Identifying ways of closing the metal flow loop in the global mobile phone product system: A system dynamics modeling approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Identifying ways of closing the metal flow loop in the global mobile phone product system: A system dynamics modeling approach
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2016 (English)In: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, ISSN 0921-3449, E-ISSN 1879-0658, 65-76 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the past few decades, e-waste has emerged as one of the fastest growing and increasingly complex waste flows world-wide. Within e-waste, the life cycle of the mobile phone product system is particularly important because of: (1) the increasing quantities of mobile phones in this waste flow; and (2) the sustainability challenges associated with the emerging economies of reuse, refurbishment, and export of used mobile phones. This study examined the possibilities of closing the material flow loop in the global mobile phone product system (GMPPS) while addressing the broad sustainability challenges linked to recovery of materials. This was done using an adapted system dynamics modeling approach to investigate the dominant paths and drivers for closing the metal flow loop through the concept of eco-cycle. Two indicators were chosen to define the closed loop system: loop leakage and loop efficiency. Sensitivity analysis of selected parameters was used to identify potential drivers for closing the metal flow loop. The modeling work indicated leverage for management strategies aimed at closing the loop in: (i) collection systems for used phones, (ii) mobile phone use time, and (ii) informal recycling in developing countries. By analyzing the dominant parameters, an eco-cycle scenario that could promote a closed loop system by decreasing pressures on virgin materials was formulated. Improved policy support and product service systems could synchronize growth between upstream producers and end-of-life organizations and help achieve circular production and consumption in the GMPPS. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Closed loop, Eco-cycle, Mobile phones, System dynamics, Substance flow analysis, E-waste, End-of-life
National Category
Environmental Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-191436 (URN)10.1016/j.resconrec.2016.05.010 (DOI)000381323600006 ()2-s2.0-84975474704 (ScopusID)
Note

QC 20160901

Available from: 2016-08-30 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2016-09-22Bibliographically approved
3. Copper content in lake sediments as a tracer of urban emissions: evaluation through a source-transport-storage model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Copper content in lake sediments as a tracer of urban emissions: evaluation through a source-transport-storage model
2010 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 408, no 13, 2714-2725 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A coupled source-transport-storage model was developed to determine the origin and path of copper from materials/goods in use in the urban drainage area and the fate of copper in local recipient lakes The model was applied and tested using five small lakes in Stockholm, Sweden. In the case of the polluted lakes Racksta Trask, Trekanten and Langsjon, the source strengths of copper identified by the model were found to be well linked with independently observed copper contents in the lake sediments through the model. The model results also showed that traffic emissions, especially from brake linings, dominated the total load in all five cases Sequential sedimentation and burial proved to be the most important fate processes of copper in all lakes, except Racksta Trask, where outflow dominated The model indicated that the sediment copper content can be used as a tracer of the urban diffuse copper source strength, but that the response to changes in source strength is fairly slow (decades) Major uncertainties in the source model were related to management of stormwater in the urban area, the rate of wear of brake linings and weathering of copper roofs The uncertainty of the coupled model is in addition affected mainly by parameters quantifying the sedimentation and bury processes, such as particulate fraction, settling velocity of particles, and sedimentation rate As a demonstration example, we used the model to predict the response of the sediment copper level to a decrease in the copper load from the urban catchment in one of the case study lakes (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V All rights reserved

Keyword
Diffuse source, Lake sediment, Urban drainage area, Copper
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-27315 (URN)10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.02.045 (DOI)000278678200009 ()2-s2.0-77952547340 (ScopusID)
Note
QC 20101209Available from: 2010-12-09 Created: 2010-12-09 Last updated: 2016-08-29Bibliographically approved
4. Modeling both direct and indirect environmental load of purchase decisions: a web-based tool addressing household metabolism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Modeling both direct and indirect environmental load of purchase decisions: a web-based tool addressing household metabolism
2015 (English)In: Environmental Modelling & Software, ISSN 1364-8152, Vol. 71, 138-147 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Consumer awareness is continuously increasing towards pro-environmental behavior. Thus, we developed a web-based environmental feedback tool EcoRunner, which is designed for Swedish households aiming at increasing the awareness in a more pro-environmental direction. The conceptual model of EcoRunner has been developed based on top-down and bottom-up approaches connecting economic activities within a household to environmental pressures (both direct and indirect). In addition, the development of the tool includes a multi-level model aiming at better tailor-made advice to consumers. In this paper, we examine the EcoRunner tool with average single Swedish household expenditures as well as explore options for reductions and systems effects. Analysis shows that food and non-alcoholic beverages, fuel for personal transport (e.g. car) and air transports have significant environmental pressures. In addition, this study suggests that EcoRunner could be used in education systems as an environmental feedback tool to enlighten consumers motivation and change consumption patterns.

Keyword
Household metabolism, Sustainable consumption, LCA, Environmental feedback, Web-based tool, Carbon footprint, Energy footprint, Sweden
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-172668 (URN)10.1016/j.envsoft.2015.05.014 (DOI)000358627500011 ()2-s2.0-84933037756 (ScopusID)
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2006-1424
Note

QC 20150901

Available from: 2015-09-01 Created: 2015-08-27 Last updated: 2016-08-29Bibliographically approved
5. Environmental footprint assessment of building structures: A comparative study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental footprint assessment of building structures: A comparative study
2016 (English)In: Building and Environment, ISSN 0360-1323, E-ISSN 1873-684X, Vol. 104, 162-171 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Following the failure to implement a rather sophisticated Excel-based environmental assessment tool, environmental load profile (ELP) in the Swedish construction industry, the City of Stockholm further developed a simplified version focusing on materials to make the tool user friendly and simple, aiming at educating stakeholders in the design phase of building construction. This study evaluated whether this simplified ELP of building structures (ELP-s) can be used directly or modified for use as a simple standard model for calculating the environmental footprint of building structures. ELP-s was compared with the two leading commercial LCA softwares, GaBi and SimaPro, based on two reference buildings: (i) a concrete and (ii) a wooden building, in order to examine the importance of material selection and the simplification of the tool. The results showed that the estimated energy footprint obtained using ELP-s was close in value to that produced by GaBi and SimaPro, but that carbon footprint was much lower with ELP-s. This great deviation in carbon footprint can be explained by the lower GHG emissions intensity per unit energy in Sweden compared with the world average or European average, the major data sources on which estimations in GaBi and SimaPro are based. These results indicate the importance of exercising care when applying commercial software tools to a specific situation in a specific country. They also indicate that the model should fit the purpose.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2016
Keyword
Environmental assessment tools, Environmental footprints, Life cycle assessment, Buildings, Environmental load profile
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-190656 (URN)10.1016/j.buildenv.2016.05.012 (DOI)000378955500017 ()2-s2.0-84966746591 (ScopusID)
Note

QC 20160817

Available from: 2016-08-17 Created: 2016-08-12 Last updated: 2016-08-30Bibliographically approved

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