Environmental impacts of digitalization based on life-cycle assessment
The aim of this project is to analyse the environmental impacts of increased digitalization and the use of Information and Communication Technologies. The project can include both method development and case studies. The impacts will be analysed using life cycle assessment and life cycle thinking. Case studies can vary on different scales and include specific devices, applications and sectoral assessments. Initially, the focus will be on climate impacts and energy use, but it may also be broadened to a larger spectrum of environmental impacts. Assessments will include the direct impacts of ICT but also different types of indirect impacts, including rebound effects.
The ICT sector has an environmental footprint. The future development of this footprint is debated, and it is important that the discussions have a scientific basis. Digitalisation may be a tool for reducing environmental impacts. By improving efficiencies and dematerialising products and services, new ICT applications can reduce the footprints of other sectors. More studies are, however, needed in order to understand when this actually leads to decreased impacts and when there is a risk for indirect rebound effects that increase use and footprints. Environmental life cycle assessment is a standardised method for assessing potential environmental impacts of products, services and functions “from the cradle to the grave”, i.e. from the extraction of raw materials via production and uses to waste management. It is used for analysing the environmental footprints, i.e. the direct impacts, of ICT. It can also be used for analysing different types of indirect effects.
About the Digital Futures Industrial Postdocs
Shoaib Azizi. After working in the industry on large-scale refrigeration and heat pump systems and as an entrepreneur with solar pumps, Shoaib undertook a master’s program in Sustainable Energy Engineering at KTH. He moved to Umeå in northern Sweden for a multi-disciplinary PhD project on energy-efficient renovation of buildings. His PhD included research on the opportunities for digital tools to improve management and energy efficiency in buildings. He defended his thesis “A multi-method Assessment to Support Energy Efficiency Decisions in Existing Residential and Academic Buildings” in September 2021. Now Shoaib is a Digital Futures Postdoc researcher in digitalization and climate impacts at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED) at KTH. His research involves lifecycle assessment methodology to understand various aspects of digitalization and its impacts on the environment.
Anna Furberg defended her PhD thesis in 2020 at Chalmers University of Technology. Her thesis, titled “Environmental, Resource and Health Assessments of Hard Materials and Material Substitution: The Cases of Cemented Carbide and Polycrystalline Diamond”, involved Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) case studies and method development. After her thesis, she worked at the Norwegian Institute for Sustainability Research, NORSUS, on various LCA projects and, in several cases, as the project leader. In 2022, she was awarded the SETAC Europe Young Scientist Life Cycle Assessment Award, which recognizes exceptional achievements by a young scientist in the field of LCA. Anna has a Digital Futures Postdoc position in digitalization and climate impacts at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED) at KTH.
Göran Finnveden is a Professor of Environmental Strategic Analysis at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Sciences and Engineering at KTH. He is also the director of the Mistra Sustainable Consumption research program. His research is focused on sustainable consumption and life cycle assessment, and other sustainability assessment tools. The research includes method development and case studies in different areas, including the environmental impacts of ICT.
Digital Futures Industrial Postdoc project: Environmental impacts of digitalization based on life-cycle email@example.com
Digital Futures Industrial Postdoc project: Environmental impacts of digitalization based on life-cycle firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor of Environmental Strategic Analysis at the Department of Sustainable Development, Environmental Sciences and Engineering at KTH, Director of the Mistra Sustainable Consumption research program, Supervisor for Digital Futures Industrial Postdoc project: Environmental impacts of digitalization based on life-cycle assessment+46 8 790 73 18