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Sustainability Resource Guide: Environmental Management and Ecodesign

Information about sustainability resources, events and activities at Newcastle University: a collaborative guide from NIReS and the University Library

Assessment and Monitoring

Environmental Assessment (EA) is a process to predict environmental effects of proposed initiatives before they are carried out. An EA identifies potential adverse environmental effects, proposes measures to mitigate adverse environmental effects, predicts whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, after mitigation measures are implemented and includes a follow-up program to verify the accuracy of the environmental assessment and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures. Environmental monitoring is used in the preparation of environmental impact assessments, as well as in many circumstances in which human activities carry a risk of harmful effects on the natural environment. 

EIA is a type of environmental assessment that evaluates the environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse.

An environmental indicator is a measurement, statistic or value that identifies the presence or level of the factor affecting the environment.

This type of monitoring is based on the continual examination of biological specimens or body samples (such as blood, urine, body tissue) for identification of environmental or health risks.

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Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by copying nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth using sustainable resources and energy.

(Image: "Biomimetic Morphology of Phyllotaxy Towers" by Saleh Masoumi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

An Industrial Ecology Process is based on Biomimicry. Industries are seen as man-made ecosystems that operates in a similar way to natural ecosystems, where the waste or by product of one process is used as an input into another process. Industrial ecology interacts with natural ecosystems and attempts to move from a linear to cyclical or closed loop system

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Eco-Design Tools

Another tool for sustainable design based in several nominated attributes to choose the most appropriate choice within a number of options. The attributes are weighted according to the level of relevance or importance.

This method generally involves assessing a new product concept against an existing one using key criteria.

The Triz Journal (2000)

It is a systematic and rigorous team review for analyzing and reducing the environmental impact of process plant. It concentrates on minimizing use of utilities, and all wastes to air and land. ENVOP is usually performed for different reasons: Emissions problem such as offensive effluents, significant loss of revenue due to emissions, legislative requirements and the purpose to improve the economic benefits of the plant.

The processes are usually assessed with the help of an ENVOP review logsheet.

LCA attempts to predict the overall environmental issues associated with a product, function or service. It looks from the cradle to grave of a product or system and checks on the environmental issues of each stage so that you can find ways of improvement.

SUSOP® (SUStainable OPerations) is an emerging tool which seeks to apply Sustainable Design principles to industrial processes.

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