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Paper-Presentation [clear filter]
Monday, July 10


3033 Applications of Systems Thinking in Sustainability Assessment Methods: The Case for Alternative Vehicle Options
Assessing sustainability of systems requires integration of various approaches, methods, and disciplines. Although Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been a widely accepted method to assess environmental sustainability of products, processes, and goods, it has some limitations such as isolated way of assessing the environmental impacts with no consideration of social and economic impacts. In this regard, LCA method has been transforming into a new framework known as life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA), which proposes improvement in three dimensions: (1) inclusion of social and economic indicators in addition to the environmental impacts, (2) broadening the scope of analysis from product-level impacts to quantification of macro-level economy-wide impacts, (3) deepening the assessment mechanisms to capture and understand the interrelations, feedback mechanisms, rebound effects, scenario-analysis, stakeholder involvement, and uncertainties. In this study, challenges related to these dimensions, applications from recent literature, and future perspectives are discussed along with a case study and a comprehensive literature review. According to the literature review, there is a lack of collaboration among the environmental, social, and economic disciplines. Among the applications of LCSA studies, only few (3 out of 56) studies were able to quantify sustainability impacts at global scale, meaning encompassing complex supply chains at global level. Furthermore, rebound and feedback effects of the system-of-interest were not studied sufficiently. In terms of methods applied in the field of LCSA, there were a high degree of diversity among the tools, methods, and approaches. In this regard, there is a strong need for developing a common system language and bringing tools, disciplines, and methods to overcome challenges associated with assessing sustainability. As a case study, life cycle sustainability assessment of alternative vehicle technologies, in the U.S. is conducted using a system dynamics model in which economic, social, and the environmental impacts of various alternative vehicle types are quantified until 2050. The proposed model captured complex dynamic relationships between economy, society, the environment, and the U.S. transportation. Alternative vehicle options include including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and internal combustion vehicles (ICVs). Extreme customer choice scenarios are tested for each vehicle type to compare their maximum potential impacts. BEVs are found to be a better alternative for most of sustainability impact categories in long run, while they are economically not preferable until mid-2020s. Analysis results revealed that any alternative vehicle option, alone, cannot reduce the rapidly increasing atmospheric temperature and the negative impacts of the global climate change, even though the entire fleet is replaced with the most environmental friendly vehicle option. In addition, the impacts from feedbacks within the society, economy, and the environment are found to be smaller compared to exogenous drivers such as existing and expected trends in population, economy, and global warming. This study exemplifies the advancements in life cycle assessment methods and aims to strengthen the transformation of the current sustainability assessment methods by considering all of the inherent mutual and dynamic relationships in the environmental, social, and economic aspects.

Monday July 10, 2017 14:00 - 14:30


3027 Understanding Human Activity Systems: A Study using Systems Principles
Heuristic methods have provided, to differing degrees of success, the means to design and manage the human activity systems that support the realization of engineered systems. However, as the complexity of engineering systems has increased, the effectiveness of the heuristic methods to design and manage the realization of the system has decreased. Furthermore, the constrains that heuristic methods inherently possess limit their evolution and the ability of systems and engineering managers to understand how emergence in human activity systems rises and how can it be managed. Von Bertalanffy argued that deriving a theory of universal principles applying to systems in general is imperative. Considering that human activity systems are notional systems, which express purposeful human activities and can be used to study possible changes in complex real-world situations, then a team is defined as the elemental form of a human activity system. In this case, a team is an emergent result of individuals joining into human activity systems. In this research, the authors propose to study teams using systems principles Rousseau proposed. Gaining understanding of the principles that drive the emergence of the capabilities of teams and human activity systems will assist systems and engineering managers efficiently design and manage complex human activity systems.

Monday July 10, 2017 14:30 - 15:00


3028 Integration of Sustainability Performance Indicators and the Viable System Model Toward a Sustainable Systems Assessment Methodology
Reports on the progress of sustainability research have increased significantly during the past decades. The developmental milestones of sustainability are consistent with the post-normal versus traditional science, where trans-disciplinary and policy/action research are among the important criteria to be added to traditional analysis approach. This requires a new perspective to look at the problem at hand: we are no longer considering a group of users with common and self-interested goals when defining the scope of sustainability studies. This in turn requires sustainability indicators that can capture largely diverse but relevant measurements to completely represent the different perspectives that must be fulfilled, and methodologies that focus on heuristics, systemic stability, control, and feedback, versus traditional optimization for mechanistic problems. The present study attempts to build upon current established connection between sustainability and viability, specifically how the Viable System Model offers a framework for organizational systems to consistently perform self-adapting mechanisms to cope with internal and external sustainability challenges, and how these capabilities can help organizations achieve their sustainability development goals. A sustainability assessment model that integrates both the sustainability indicators approach and Viable System Model has also been developed and presented here.

Monday July 10, 2017 15:00 - 15:30