Environmental Sustainability Assessment and Circularity

Identifying the factors behind polluting emissions, as well as the opportunities for reducing the environmental impacts and risks associated with industrial activities, energy management and human consumption patterns is of key importance today. Also, the scientific community and society as a whole has recognized the need for a long-term sustainable development at both the regional and global scale.

VISION

To ensure the transition towards a more sustainable society, it is essential to develop Sustainability practices related to production and consumption systems, along the value chain of products, technologies and services:

  • Natural resources exploitation
  • Sustainable procurement and consumption
  • Modelling and optimization of smart and sustainable energy systems
  • Participative energy business
  • Eco-design
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Sustainable built environment and mobility
  • Functional economy, e.g. “product as a service” business models
  • Life-time extension e.g. remanufacturing
  • Recycling

Nowadays, most of those practices are connected to the Circular Economy organisation principle which aims at:

  • Changing our current linear economic model into a circular model which values material resources and energy efficiency;
  • Protecting the biodiversity and ensuring the well-being of individuals.

Indeed, when developing, implementing and monitoring (circular) production and consumption systems, it is essential to evaluate their overall sustainability performance. Life Cycle Thinking methods, in particular Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods, are very relevant for this purpose as they evaluate, in a holistic way, the potential environmental impacts of a system - i.e. a material, product, technology, service, as well as a strategy at territorial scale - from resources depletion to climate change, ecosystem quality and human health. Concerning the last two impacts categories, regulatory toxicology and risk assessment methods are needed to perform more specific evaluations. Last but not least, the development and integration of renewable energy and the design and optimization of smart energy systems are important challenges to support the transition towards a more sustainable society.

MISSION

The Environmental Sustainability Assessment and Circularity (SUSTAIN) research unit aims at providing industrial innovation and policy decision-making with science-based quantification of the impacts and risks of production and consumption patterns, including energy systems solutions, to foster the transition towards a more sustainable society.

The research unit is composed of around 35 scientists, with a wide range of industrial and academic backgrounds. It develops guidelines, methods, metrics, and/or tools in the fields of:

The combination of different fields of expertise enables to improve the input data quality and to reinforce the robustness of the analyses. This finally provides sustainability indicators that are more reliable and targeted to each specific decision-making context. For example, in the CONNECTING project, the coupling of Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) with LCA enables to assess the key factors (from the policy makers and users points of view) behind a more sustainable electro-mobility strategy.

APPLICATION AREAS

The unit applies its expertise at every scale – from substances to materials, products, technologies, services and territories – with the aim to support different decision-making contexts:

  • Strategic planning: Sustainability strategy, new Circular Economy business models, market deployment;
  • R&D projects: product or technology development;
  • Industrial operations;
  • Energy systems planning and operations: integration of renewable energy sources, transmission and distribution grids, forecasting of energy provision, heat usage in urban areas, sector coupling of e.g. electricity and the (waste) water sector;
  • Sustainability communication. 

KEY PARTNERS

The unit works in close collaboration with industrial stakeholders from various sectors in Europe (e.g. chemicals, plastics, steel, construction, automotive, manufactured goods, agro-food, renewable energy, electricity, biomass) as well as with Luxembourgish policy makers (e.g. sustainable mobility, buildings deconstruction). Some key partners: ArcelorMittal, Cimalux, Delphi, Dupont, Electris, Engie, Enovos, Luxplan, Ministère de l’Economie (Luxembourg), Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures (Luxembourg), Philip Morris International, Royal Canin, SCORELCA, Sudstroum, Tarkett, Voestalpine.

Contact

Dr-Ing. Enrico BENETTO
Dr-Ing. Enrico BENETTO
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