Framework For Structuring Information For Environmental Management Of Industrial Systems
Doctoral thesis, 2006
This thesis addresses information structuring for reducing cost, facilitate understandability, increase relevance and improve quality of environmental information. The research is based in experience, practical results and syntheses from three different but related research and development projects conducted between 1994 and 2004. The projects have involved different industrial and academic partners in Sweden and other EU countries, and have also had active interactions with the international standardisation effort within ISO (International Organization for Standardization).
To actively take environmental responsibility for designing, producing or purchasing a product it is necessary to have information about consequences from the decisions. Environmental impacts from industrial products, activities and systems may be gradual, diffuse, long term and complex. They originate not only from extraction of natural resources, emissions and waste generation, but also from transportation, storage, use and end of life phases. The complexity makes it difficult to foresee the total environmental impact from industrial systems. There are methods and tools available to environmentally assess environmental performance of the life cycle of products and services, but it is still difficult to acquire the information needed to perform the assessment. It is also difficult to present the results from the assessments in a clear and logic way. Hence, it is difficult for consumers or professional decision makers to take into regard environmental consequences from their decisions. Due to the increasing global population and accelerating economies of the developing worlds, it is probable that the needs for more effective and efficient information handling for different global responsibility issues will increase.
The material presented concerns solving problems of environmental management of different industrial systems, using techniques for information structuring. The techniques include a combination of linguistic analysis, relational database modelling, system architecture design, and general description of data aggregation and data quality.
Significant and immediately useful results from the research work are 1) the outline of a methodological framework for building environmental information structures, 2) the importance of environmental indicators to build functioning environmental information systems and 3) the different practically useful and partially integrated prototype information systems for LCA and DfE resulting from the three research projects.
The doctoral studies are financed by the Swedish competence centre CPM (Center for environmental assessment of Product and Material systems), which is a joint research forum including Swedish industry and Chalmers university of technology, supported by the Swedish government through VINNOVA (Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems).
Life cycle assessment (LCA)
Design for Environment (DfE)
industrial environmental information systems