Jay Golden, Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce, Director, Associate Professor of the Practice for Sustainable Systems Analysis Nicholas School of the Environment and Pratt School of Engineering Duke University
We are witnessing a significant global transition from firm sustainability to product sustainability which is being brought about through industry and government institutions. These new quantitative programs seek to quantify the environmental impacts of consumer products and services throughout all phases of the life cycle. These efforts present various opportunities and risks including contradictory requirements, lack of harmonization and potentially unintended consequences arising from a sustainable systems perspective. Dr. Golden, who founded and co-directed the Sustainability Consortium and now working with the creation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Outdoor Industry Association, will provide an insider’s overview of these efforts, including background on the “mega-trends” driving these efforts.
Adam Finkel, Penn Program on Regulation, Senior Fellow and Executive Director, and UMDNJ School of Public Health, Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health
A vocal minority of scholars and decision-makers believes that cost-benefit analysis (CBA) is among the most useful tools for identifying solutions to environmental problems that are highly protective and also impose minimal costs to the economy. But if we want to inform the sustainability agenda with the insights of CBA and risk assessment, we will need to reverse the basic paradigm under which risk assessors and regulators have interacted for the past 30 years. Instead of allowing (or requiring) analysts to study problems and eventually hand off their results to decision-makers, we need to start the process with “solution formulation” – requiring decision-makers to think creatively about what interventions might be sustainable, and to enlist analysts for the task of helping determine which of the feasible solutions most significantly increases net social benefit. Truly sustainable solutions will tend not to create new and greater risks, transfer risks from one subpopulation to another without reducing them, or ignore important constituencies (in my view, worker risks have been left out of most discussions of sustainable development).
Michael McGeehin, RTI International, Senior Environmental Epidemiologist
The built environment is intimately and intricately associated with public health. Mounting evidence has identified associations among the many factors that comprise the built environment and a long list of adverse health outcomes, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and mental health effects. This presentation will review factors of the built environment that impact human health from a more holistic or syndemic approach and discuss potential future research needs and policy strategies to address this important public health threat.
Lek Kadeli, U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Deputy Assistant Administrator ORD
Scot Case, UL Environment, Business Development, Director
From a consumer’s perspective and the perspective of most institutional purchasers, product-level sustainability claims are understandably suspect. After all, you can’t see sustainability. You can’t touch it. Many people can’t even define it.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is working to change that. When UL was founded 117 years ago, safety was invisible. You couldn’t see safety just by looking at a product. You couldn’t touch safety. Many people couldn’t even define it.
Safety emerged as an important consumer requirement, however, because UL and others found ways to clearly define, measure, and test the safety of products on behalf of consumers and institutional purchasers.
The strategies UL used over the past 117 years inform the approaches UL is using today to define product- and corporate-level sustainability.
Product-specific, sustainability claims have been in the marketplace since the 1970s with the initial focus on recycled-content products. Other single attribute claims like energy- and water-efficiency or low toxicity emerged later. These claims morphed into broader multi-attribute claims, which led to life-cycle based environmental leadership standards. Now the world is focused on full life-cycle assessments and other strategies.
UL has a unique understanding of how and why these claims emerged, which ones are still relevant, and how they can be combined in ways that build on each approach’s strengths so that tomorrow sustainability is as important as safety is today.
Arlan Peters, Novozymes North America, Sustainability Manager
The concept of sustainability is increasingly used to guide the development of new products and processes. But how does one understand the tradeoffs that are inherent in design change and determine the true impact of a product? Given the complexity of a product life cycle, it is difficult, but critical, to understand how such changes would impact the health of the environment in order to choose the most sustainable alternative. One tool that can help in this endeavor is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Taking the example of biotechnology in textile manufacturing, this talk will explore the use of LCA in a commercial setting.
Paul Mugge, NC State Center for Innovation Management Studies, College of Management, Executive Director
For almost two decades, the TEC Algorithm, developed at North Carolina State University, has been used as the basis for teaching process-based technology commercialization skills to managers, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs as well as to students from over two dozen universities in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
“TEC” is short for “Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization,” and the TEC Algorithm is a series of highly structured commercialization tools. It is designed specifically to help firms cross the so-called “Valley of Death” that occurs at the front end of innovation when promising technologies fail to generate any commercial rewards. Managers, even those with very limited commercialization experience, can use these tools to make effective investment and product development decisions and to rationalize their organization’s innovation processes. Unlike most common approaches, TEC rejects the notion that the front end of innovation is too uncertain to be managed systematically.
TEC was first developed at a time when simply earning a good profit could be equated with “sustainability.” That time has passed. Now if sustainability is incorporated at the very front end of product and service design, sustainability can be a source of cost savings, a driver of quality and reliability, and a builder of customer and partner goodwill.
To address this opportunity, the development of a new TEC Algorithm began in 2010. This three-year project, underwritten by CIMS, is now ready for testing.
Bill Michaud, SRA International, Environmental and Energy Services, Principal
A “systems approach” to assessing sustainability and developing sustainable solutions can mean many things to many people. To help set the stage for the “Systems Approach” working group, the speaker will offer thoughts on key attributes to be considered when defining a “system,” the importance of distinguishing types of systems, and key principles to consider when evaluating methods, gaps, and solutions. He will present the argument that approaches for integrating public health into sustainability solutions must consider the decision contexts for these solutions. He will conclude the presentation with thoughts on critical gaps in methods for integrating public health in addressing sustainability in two different contexts: products and public services.
Martin Mascianica, BASF Corporation, Crop Protection, VP of Business Services
Pragmatic, science-based tools that demonstrate commitment and progress to sustainable business practices are developing in many industry segments. BASF, as a leader in the chemicals industry, has developed a portfolio of such tools for the benefit of society, customers, and shareholders and has incorporated these instruments in numerous initiatives to enhance sustainable development. The speaker will provide conceptual basis for the workings of these tools as they relate to systems assessments within agriculture and the food value chain. The opportunity areas for metrics related to society/health will also be outlined.
Jonathan Hurwitch, SRA International, Energy Programs, Vice President
Sound public policy is based on evidence-based correctional policies and practices but there are underlying assumptions. The biggest assumption is the one economists call rational maximizing behavior. But if there is no rational thinking in the public policy arena can you still use a systems approach? Energy policy, and the move to more sustainable energy, is a system of trade-offs between economics, societal impacts (especially public health), and energy (sustainability) options. We all want cleaner energy options that have minimal environmental impacts but at what costs? Everyone wants better societal heath but can we agree on direct causes and effects and what sort of analysis can be conducted that will constitute proof to decision makers? We currently have politicians and policy makers that are now even disputing the very tenets of science so the burden of proof is increasing to environmental and health care analysts who must be prepared to defend their thesis to a greater degree than at any time in the past. The speaker will provocatively explore how to conduct effective policy analysis an era of severe economic downturn and political polarization.
Daniel Rodriguez, Department of City and Regional Planning, UNC-Chapel Hill, Associate Professor
Walking and bicycling for daily transportation are important sources of physical activity, but they have declined dramatically over the past few decades. Reversing the decline in rates of walking and biking for transportation, especially for short trips, presents a major opportunity for improving health among children, adolescents and adults. Transportation investments can either support or impede walking and bicycling in neighborhoods and near schools, depending on how they are implemented. Evidence is accumulating about how infrastructure improvements, programs that aim to manage neighborhood road traffic, and efforts to make streets and sidewalks safer for active travel influence travel patterns. This research brief presents an overview of findings demonstrating the potential impact of infrastructure investments and other transportation programs on walking and bicycling for transportation, and on related health outcomes. It focuses on public transit, greenways and trails, and school-related infrastructure.
Paul Morris, NC Department of Transportation, Deputy Secretary for Transit
Environment and lifestyle are critical factors in preventing obesity, diabetes, depression and other chronic diseases. Polls show people want transportation choices and are more likely to take advantage of automobile alternatives when provided the facilities that effectively connect to where they want to go. We are already building communities with a density sufficient enough to support multi-modal transportation options, but in many of these areas, the transportation infrastructure that supports active transportation is either inadequate or non-existent. How do we move toward communities that are more conducive to physical activity? Several programs at both the federal and state level are poised to provide the leadership needed to create more livable, healthier communities. These programs include Center for Disease Control’s Healthy Communities Program, American Public Health Association’s Healthy Communities Initiative, federal Livable Communities Partnership, NC’s Sustainable Communities Task Force, NC Healthy Environments Collaborative, Shape Your World, and NCDOT’s Complete Streets initiative. These programs, as well as other key strategies, will be discussed as a means of creating a built environment that supports behavioral changes that can lead to improved public health outcomes.
Lynn Davis, RTI International, Engineering Research, Director
Artificial lighting has become a ubiquitous source of general illumination in the modern world with both advantageous and potentially detrimental impacts. The increased drive toward energy efficient illumination has reduced the energy consumption directly attributable to lighting. Since lighting accounts for roughly 22% of the total electricity consumption in the United States, increasing the energy efficiency of artificial lighting not only improves sustainability but also reduces particulate and CO2 emissions from electricity plants. However, the potential health impacts of the spectrum produced by high efficiency artificial illumination are often overlooked. The human endocrine system has evolved with the sun providing the circadian rhythm to synchronize sleep and wake cycles. Consequently, light and dark cycles, combined with spectral variations throughout the day (e.g., redder light in the morning and evening and blue light during the day), have been clinically shown to control the secretion of melatonin, the hormone often associated with sleep. However, the spectrum of sunlight is significantly different from that of energy efficiency artificial lighting sources such as fluorescent lamps and light emitting diode (LED)-based sources. First, as noted above, the spectrum of sunlight changes during the day providing temporal clues. Second, the ratio of blue and red light is often very different in artificial lighting than in natural light. The impact of these spectral differences upon sleep cycles, mood, and other potential health issues will be discussed.
Environmental Protection Agency
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University
North Carolina State University
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences
Fleishman Hillard International Communications