Omar's wiki page: Sustainability Indicators

Articles

- Article 1: Integrative framework for assessing firms’ potential to undertake Green IT initiatives via virtualization – A theoretical perspective

by: Ranjit Bose, Xin Luo

Published in The Journal of Strategic Information Systems Volume 20, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 38–54

Link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963868711000047

- Article 2: Green IT: A Matter of Business and Information Systems Engineering?

by: Prof. Dr. Peter Loos Saarland University, Wolfgang Nebel, Jorge Marx Gómez, Helen Hasan, Richard T. Watson, Jan vom Brocke, Stefan Seidel, Jan Recker

Published online 2011-06-18

Link: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12599-011-0165-5

- Article 3: GITAM: A Model for the Adoption of Green IT by: Alemayehu Molla School of Business Information Technology RMIT University Melbourne, Australia Published online 2008-1-1

Link: http://aisel.aisnet.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1074&context=acis2008

EDX META101x Course on Philosophy & Critical Thinking

Homework: Sustainability Movement

My “sustainability movement” concerns the management of water consumption and its quality. All over the world, water becomes a rarer and rarer resource, attracting many interests. Having access to running water, that is produced using recycled water is a great thing. In many countries, wastewaters are treated and recycled to be redistributed directly to the consumer. However, this system might make us forget about not overdoing our consumption.

Some individual steps that could be taking towards a more sustainable water system:

-Only use water when you need it: this goes for cleaning dishes, or showering. It may sound simple, but you can save water if you just cut the running water out while actually using soap on you body or dishes.

-Be wary of leaks around the water areas. Too many a times, the tap in the sink, the toilet, or even the shower head are leaking. Fixing and replacing those sources of leakage can sometimes considerably reduce the consumption of unused water.

-Do not pour in the sink hazardous products (acid, dangerous cleaning products, oil). These liquids take more time to be removed from the water to be recycled. Also, they might damage the pipes of the water systems.

On a community scale:

-Understanding of where the water comes from. It always makes people think when they have a broader perspective on how the system works and all the steps needed to bring water into their home.

-Inform and share with other people. Individual awareness is a first step, however it is not enough to make a larger impact on a broader scale. Sharing tips and ways on how to save water and to generally making it cleaner to consume should be the next natural step in trying to make a more sustainable water system grid.

-Asking about and Informing yourself on the quality of water in your city.

Task Missing lecture 2

- Chapter 1:

Sustainable development has become one of the main concerns of our decade. From international aid agencies to the scientific community, sustainable development has to be defined, mainly through sustainability indicators. The two main roots defining how to achieve sustainability are the critique of technology (i.e. redefining the use of technology in a sustainability centric world) and the Carrying capacity (i.e. the maximum number of individuals of a species that an ecosystem can sustain). As of today, and probably ever, sustainability does not have a single and universal definition. Its meaning differs with scale, location and time factors. One conceived concept is to setup boundaries when talking about sustainability on a particular subject. This can be treacherous as no aspect in our lives is unlinked to some other aspect. For example, a sustainable farm project, sustainable as it may be on itself, must have some link with some outer-boundaries aspects (for example, transportation of food, packaging etc.). Also, any sustainable-centric project should not be considered in only a short-term period of time. One of the main ideas of sustainability is to carry the system over generations without it affecting negatively the future generations. Finally, for most of us today, sustainability is finding the right balance between the system quality and our quality of life. There is indeed no point in making a sustainable system if it means losing drastically in a quality of life point of view. All these factors combined make sustainability a complex and ever on-going process with no right or wrong answers. To help define and measure sustainability, a framework defining indicators has been set (the DPSIR framework). Dividing sustainability indicators into categories (Driving, Pressure, State, Impact and Response). These indicators should have the following common characteristics: Simplicity, Scope, Quantification, Assessment, Sensitivity, Timeliness. However, one may ask oneself if defining with such precision ways to measure and quantify sustainability is realistic and is applicable to any sustainable-focused project. Are we able to take into account every little aspect of a system and its links to other systems when trying to achieve sustainability? Should we take into account all these aspects, or would it make the process exhaustive and unfeasible?

- Chapter 2:

Until now, we have seen how a theory on measuring and assessing sustainability could be define. In practice, numbers show more than concepts. Thus, was introduced the Maximum Sustainable Yield. Defined as Number or biomass of individuals that can be removed from an ecosystem without driving the population down, this measure is crucial to consider the exploitation of any ressource. A good example for the usage of this measure would be the protection of the oceanic and aquatic fauna and flora. However, this indicator has some few problems. Firstly, it does not take into account the complex nature of eco-systems. The MSY makes the simplification that the population is uniform. Furthermore, its measurement depends on which starting point has been taken. Another indicator is the carrying capacity: the maximum number of individuals of a species that an ecosystem can sustain. If the carrying capacity is exceeded, the population will be limited through lack of resources. For example, how many animals could be taken out of a stock without destroying it? Or how many animals can be introduced in an eco-system without disturbing it? This carrying capacity can be a sensitive subject, especially when it concerns a human population. Instead of single values indicators, a model combining different attributes could be more appropriate when assessing sustainability. The AMOEBA approach is a way to combine numbers into a more visual summary, simplifying the step of decision-making. Of course, simplifying a complex system would surely mean a loss of information and details. In the end, sustainability is different for each and every one of us. Building a model, how simple or reductive it may be, can help us advance in decision-making, hopefully for the better.

- Chapter 3:

To achieve a sustainable community, this said community must focus on the 3 pillars of sustainability: Protection of eco-systems, Economic Productivity, Social Infrastructure. Important characteristics of such a community would be Governance, Transport and connectivity, Services, Environment, Equity, Economy, Housing. Also, instead of a local government, governance would be better managed by defined Institutions of Governance. Though a more complex system than one centralized government, these institutions should be bounded and defined in purpose. Then, the balance between financial sustainability and the realization of a sustainable project should be found. If the financial factor is without a doubt an important one, not everything can be measured through money, especially when it is measured through time. The social factor, and feedback from the citizen is of course capital in finding the right equilibrium. Such a system should not make the same mistake as the Past, where a few leading authorities get richer and richer to the detriment of social rights and environmental protection. Are we prepared today, after centuries of capitalism and the quest of fortune promised by the way of life we abide to today, to compromise small part of our quality of life for a more sustainable world and future?

Individual Task after Lecture 3

Test Case: Water Distribution System

Based on the three pillars of Sustainability (Economic, Environmental, Social), we can define the following attributes:

-Economic:

Profit and expansion, Infrastructure (Installation and Maintenance)

-Social:

Water System Coverage throughout the city, Water Consumption, Price of water

-Environmental:

Quality of water, Water reusage and recycling Infrastructure

Questions after Course

1.Which is better when assessing and implementing Sustainability: Holism or Reductionism? (There is no right or wrong answer, Sustainability is a complex subject and trying to assess it and implementing it in a system requires to have a simple starting point and gradually take into account the links between the element outside the primary boundaries etc.)

2.Is Economic prosperity necessary to even consider the two others pillars of sustainability? (For many people, sustainability costs money to implement and even just to measure. However, many examples exist around the world where the economic factor is considered equal to the other pillars. Depending on which way Sustainability is achieved and in what boundaries, the economic factor can be lessened)

3.Is it possible to educate people on the complex and still not globally defined subject of Sustainability? (Sustainability and especially sustainability indicators differ with scale, location and time. How to educate people (what population) on the importance of sustainability? Theory or practical examples?)

4.How to define a good equilibrium between the different SIs? (defining a range between feasible and acceptable is an important step in defining an SI. However, expectations and pre-requisite change over time and need to be consistently redefined depending on the evolution of a sustainable system)