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Affiliation/ Organisation/ Program: CRESTA, Chemical Engineering, University of Sydney
Name: Prof Jim Petrie, Dr Mary Stewart
Country: Australia
Area of Research: The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Sydney has a research programme in several key areas of Sustainability, all underpinned by the philosophy of Life Cycle Thinking, embodied in the use (and further development) of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to support Decision Making. Our guiding premise is that Decision Making is a value-laden exercise, and requires a support framework within which all stakeholder views can be elicited and brought into the decision making exercise. Decision Making requires the articulation of multiple objectives, of which "minimisation of environmental impact" is but one. Whilst LCA, as it is currently conceived, goes some way to informing environmental objectives, it is not necessarily the best tool for all decision making contexts. Equally, LCA as a tool has no value in formulating other objectives whose optimisation is sought in any decision making exercise - eg. techno-economic, socio-political. That said, the guiding principles of Life Cycle Thinking do have value here. As an ideal, we should strive to find a common approach to the formulation of ALL objectives, and to develop a "tools selection" methodology which suits any particular decision context. Our own research programme is structured to deliver on both these needs. Our Life Cycle Thinking-based Decision Making research is supported by an analysis of different decision contexts, including - Project selection and other strategic decisions; - Technology selection, flowsheet development, detailed process design and evaluation; and - Process optimisation
Remarks: We have consulted widely to industry and government and have significant experience in developing decision support frameworks which make explicit allowance for engaging with multiple stakeholders and ensure that the values of these groups are brought to bear in determining a preferred outcome for the decision. We view decision making as a process and have developed a number of tools which can be used to inform and guide this decision process.
Address: Department of Chemical Engineering University of Sydney Sydney, 2006, NSW Australia
Tel: +61 2 9351 2455
Fax: +61 2 9351 2854

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