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Seminar 20 November: Determining and Measuring Sustainability

27 October 2008

Sustainability is a hot issue. But which tools and methods can companies use for measuring and reporting corporate sustainability performance? And what are 'environmentally conscious technologies'? Why is even the Kyoto Protocol struggling with delivering the effects one originally had hoped for? These topics will be discussed in a seminar at the FEB.

The Faculty and research school SOM invite you to the seminar: 'Determining and Measuring Sustainability' on Thursday November 20th, 2008 (10.00 – 13.00 hr) in Groningen. If you are interested in participation please send an email to: before November 1st 2008. Participation is free. There is place for maximum 40 persons.

Location: Hampshire Hotel (former De Nieuwe Academie) in the centre of the city: Radesingel 50, 9711 EK Groningen
More information: T +31 (0)50 363 7090,

Programme 20 November:

Chairman: Prof. dr. René Jorna / Prof. dr. ir.  Rob van Haren

09.45 - 10.00 hr Welcome and Coffee

10.00 - 11.00 hr Mark McElroy (Vermont): Social Sustainability: Corporate Sustainability and the Social Footprint Method

11.00 - 12.00 hr Prof. dr. mr. Catrinus Jepma (RUG): Sustainability and Energy: Are we going to resolve the climate problem in time?

12.00 - 13.00 hr Prof. dr. Benoit Roisin (Dartmouth, USA): Sustainability Engineering

13.00 - 14.00 hr Lunch


Corporate Sustainability and the Social Footprint Method
Mark W. McElroy

Measuring, managing, and reporting the sustainability performance of organizations has become a hot topic in business, with the number of companies producing annual sustainability reports now totaling in the thousands, and growing at a rate of ten percent per year. Tools and methods for measuring and reporting corporate sustainability performance, however, are still in their infancy. In this presentation, I will briefly summarize the related state of the art, and will describe the results of my recent research at the University of Groningen as to how such methods can be improved. The resulting Social Footprint Method, in particular, will be highlighted.

Sustainability and Energy: Are we going to resolve the climate problem in time?
Prof. dr. mr. Catrinus Jepma

Worldwide concerns about the threat of climate change are growing. The urgency of serious action is recognized widely. Yet global greenhouse gas emissions are still rising. Despite the large number of international, national and local mitigation initiatives - enhancing energy efficiency, introducing renewables, etc. - greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere keep rising. Risk of less or uncontrollable processes - e.g. the release of large amounts of methane due to melting permafrost, or changing patterns of thermohaline circulation in the oceans - are in fact increasing.
This raises the question why it seems so complex to organize a transition from the current fossil fuel based energy system towards a more sustainable energy system. In dealing with the issue we will not discuss the obvious causes such as lack of international cooperation, free rider behavior, etc., but rather focus on two of the most ambitious policy measures to deal with the climate issue: the Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, and will analyze why even these far reaching schemes are struggling with delivering the effects one originally had hoped for.

Sustainable Engineering
Prof. dr. Benoit Cushman-Roisin

Now that the industrial revolution has reached global proportions and that technology has affected nature in significant ways, engineers can no longer ignore the environmental dimension of their technological design, and a new discipline has emerged, called Sustainable Engineering. While no formal definition yet exists, it can be variously described as engineering in context, engineering with a conscience, and engineering for a finite planet and the indefinite future. This lecture will make the case for sustainable engineering, provide examples of environmentally conscious technologies, and highlight several methods, such as pollution prevention, design for environment and life-cycle analysis.

Last modified:31 January 2018 11.52 a.m.

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