Developing a framework for the sustainability assessment of eco-engineering measures

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Abstract

The assessment of the sustainability impacts of eco-engineering strategies can be challenging and remains neglected within the literature and in practice. The challenge lies in achieving a balance between the delivery of project objectives and their alignment with the emerging principles of sustainable design which seek to provide an appropriate and satisfactory environmental and financial performance whilst delivering social benefits. Whilst it is possible to assess various aspects of the long term performance of soil bioengineering measures and the relevant projects in their delivery through cost evaluations, risk assessments and environmental impact assessments, there is currently no agreed means of assessing the sustainability performance of such measures in an integrated framework which captures the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability.

To remediate this, we propose an integrated sustainability assessment framework which can be applied on any eco-engineering project. It is underpinned by a review of current sustainability indicators commonly applied in the range of sustainability assessment methods (SAMs) and best practice guidance within construction and geotechnical engineering. The framework comprises a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) reflective of the both engineering and sustainability requirements for eco-engineering in the context of stability, active use of vegetation and long-term sustainability for eco-engineering projects. Recognition is provided of the unique nature of each eco-engineering measure and provision is established within the framework for a contextual KPI subset to be developed through stakeholder engagement.

The potential of the framework was explored through an expert workshop highlighting its value to promote benchmarking across the sector between eco-engineering projects and would allow standards to emerge for establishing best practice. Through a real-life case study, we demonstrate the benefits of the adoption of such a framework at an early stage of a project but also the benefits for stakeholders which stem from double-loop learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume109
Issue numberPart B
Early online date28 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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Sustainable development
engineering
sustainability
performance
Practice Guidelines
stakeholders
best practice
stakeholder
design for environment
bioengineering
Benchmarking
Bioengineering
Geotechnical engineering
social benefit
Sustainability assessment
benchmarking
Environmental impact assessments
social benefits
environmental assessment
geotechnical engineering

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • sustainability assessment methods
  • eco-engineering
  • eco-technology
  • bio-engineering
  • key performance indicators
  • KPI
  • resilience
  • ground bio-engineering

Cite this

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title = "Developing a framework for the sustainability assessment of eco-engineering measures",
abstract = "The assessment of the sustainability impacts of eco-engineering strategies can be challenging and remains neglected within the literature and in practice. The challenge lies in achieving a balance between the delivery of project objectives and their alignment with the emerging principles of sustainable design which seek to provide an appropriate and satisfactory environmental and financial performance whilst delivering social benefits. Whilst it is possible to assess various aspects of the long term performance of soil bioengineering measures and the relevant projects in their delivery through cost evaluations, risk assessments and environmental impact assessments, there is currently no agreed means of assessing the sustainability performance of such measures in an integrated framework which captures the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability.To remediate this, we propose an integrated sustainability assessment framework which can be applied on any eco-engineering project. It is underpinned by a review of current sustainability indicators commonly applied in the range of sustainability assessment methods (SAMs) and best practice guidance within construction and geotechnical engineering. The framework comprises a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) reflective of the both engineering and sustainability requirements for eco-engineering in the context of stability, active use of vegetation and long-term sustainability for eco-engineering projects. Recognition is provided of the unique nature of each eco-engineering measure and provision is established within the framework for a contextual KPI subset to be developed through stakeholder engagement. The potential of the framework was explored through an expert workshop highlighting its value to promote benchmarking across the sector between eco-engineering projects and would allow standards to emerge for establishing best practice. Through a real-life case study, we demonstrate the benefits of the adoption of such a framework at an early stage of a project but also the benefits for stakeholders which stem from double-loop learning.",
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author = "S.B. Mickovski and C.S. Thomson",
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month = "12",
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Developing a framework for the sustainability assessment of eco-engineering measures. / Mickovski, S.B.; Thomson, C.S.

In: Ecological Engineering, Vol. 109, No. Part B, 12.2017, p. 145-160.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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