Quantifying sustainability for industry: a New Zealand electricity power sector case study
Cheng, Bernard Cho Ming
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Sustainable development is now being recognised as a vital component of our society in the environmental, ethical, social, technological, economic, and institutional aspects, or dimensions, so, this thesis develops a framework to quantitatively measure sustainability. This thesis is distinctive in that it focuses on quantitative methods encapsulated in a formal assessment procedure and includes sustainability concepts that have rarely been put into practical use in sustainability reports. The framework is designed along the strategy that the methodology needs to be scale invariant and recursive, meaning the procedure is the same irrespective of the scale the user is interested in, and that different people can focus at different levels of sustainability by following a similar procedure. While the quantification process is aimed to be as unbiased as possible, a configuration of the tools from Total Quality Management (TQM) is adapted to identify sustainability indicators which are then mapped onto a scalar with mathematical functions. The sustainability indices are presented according to the amount of details needed by different users ─ some may need just one overall figure while others may need sustainability indices broken down by the six sustainability dimensions and presented on a spider diagram, while others may need all the details for analysis. This methodology also caters for sustainability analysis by different stakeholders. To fully demonstrate the potential of the methodology, the author has chosen to test it on a large-size industry sector so that it can have the capacity to be scaled up to a country or down to a small business, and on an industry sector that is important on its own right. Furthermore, this sector needs to be illustrative and has nontrivial complex problems. Under these criteria, the electricity sector of New Zealand was selected. The robustness of the methodology was investigated with inputs from three evaluators with different views: a standard view from the author that was made after much research in the sector and in the concepts of sustainability, a view with an environmental bias and one that focuses on commercial interests.