SCORE: A novel multi-criteria decision analysis approach to assessing the sustainability of contaminated land remediation
Journal article, 2015

The multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) method provides for a comprehensive and transparent basis for performing sustainability assessments. Development of a relevant MCDA-method requires consideration of a number of key issues, e.g. (a) definition of assessment boundaries, (b) definition of performance scales, both temporal and spatial, (c) selection of relevant criteria (indicators) that facilitate a comprehensive sustainability assessment while avoiding double-counting of effects, and (d) handling of uncertainties. Adding to the complexity is the typically wide variety of inputs, including quantifications based on existing data, expert judgements, and opinions expressed in interviews. The SCORE (Sustainable Choice Of REmediation) MCDA-method was developed to provide a transparent assessment of the sustainability of possible remediation alternatives for contaminated sites relative to a reference alternative, considering key criteria in the economic, environmental, and social sustainability domains. The criteria were identified based on literature studies, interviews and focus-group meetings. SCORE combines a linear additive model to rank the alternatives with a non-compensatory approach to identify alternatives regarded as non-sustainable. The key strengths of the SCORE method are as follows: a framework that at its core is designed to be flexible and transparent; the possibility to integrate both quantitative and qualitative estimations on criteria; its ability, unlike other sustainability assessment tools used in industry and academia, to allow for the alteration of boundary conditions where necessary; the inclusion of a full uncertainty analysis of the results, using Monte Carlo simulation; and a structure that allows preferences and opinions of involved stakeholders to be openly integrated into the analysis. A major insight from practical application of SCORE is that its most important contribution may be that it initiates a process where criteria otherwise likely ignored are addressed and openly discussed between stakeholders.

Multi-criteria decision analysis

Uncertainty analysis

Social sustainability

Sustainable remediation

Contaminated sites

Cost-benefit analysis


Lars Rosen

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, GeoEngineering

P. E. Back

Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)

T. Soderqvist

Enveco Environmental Economics Consultancy

Jenny Norrman

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, GeoEngineering

Petra Brinkhoff


Tommy Norberg

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics

University of Gothenburg

Yevheniya Volchko

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, GeoEngineering

Malin Norin


M. Bergknut

Umeå University

G. Doberl

Environment Agency Austria

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN)

Vol. 511 621-638

Subject Categories

Earth and Related Environmental Sciences



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