Aggregating sustainability indicators: Beyond the weighted sum
Journal article, 2012

Sustainability analysts and environmental decision makers often overcome the difficulty of interpreting comprehensive environmental profiles by aggregating the results using multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methods. However, the wide variety of methodological approaches to weighting and aggregation introduces subjectivity and often uncertainty. It is important to select an approach that is consistent with the decision maker’s information needs, but scant practical guidance is available to environmental managers on how to do this. In this paper, we aim to clarify the theoretical implications of an analyst’s choice of MCDA method. By systematically examining the methodological decisions that must be made by the analyst at each stage of the assessment process, we aim to improve analysts’ understanding of the relationship between MCDA theory and practice, and enable them to apply methods that are consistent with a decision maker’s needs in any given problem context.



Decision making


Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA)

Life cycle assessment (LCA)


H. V. Rowley

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Gregory Peters

Chalmers, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemical Environmental Science

Sven Lundie

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Stephen Moore

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Journal of Environmental Management

0301-4797 (ISSN) 1095-8630 (eISSN)

Vol. 111 24-33

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Environmental Management

Environmental Sciences



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