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Sustainability, Volume 13, Issue 15 (August-1 2021) – 559 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): In recent decades, the agricultural sector has faced important challenges, such as increasing periods of drought, extreme cold events, and difficulty in responding to the food demand due to climate change and population growth. Current policies aim to evaluate and encourage sustainable land management. Sustainable management is also essential for the use of water resources for agriculture, as the world’s supply of clean and fresh water is steadily decreasing. The definition of robust indices for measuring sustainability becomes necessary to capture the economic, social, and environmental impacts of production processes. For water resources, the measurement of sustainability should be carried out at the appropriate territorial units, generally at a sub-national scale. Modern multi-criteria analysis techniques and the use of geographic information systems can help in this challenging [...] Read more.
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Review
Quantitative Modeling of Human Responses to Changes in Water Resources Availability: A Review of Methods and Theories
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8675; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158675 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 756
Abstract
In rural areas in developing countries where livelihoods directly depend on agriculture, shortage of water can have severe socio-economic and humanitarian consequences and has been suggested to result in conflict and migration. Understanding such responses is important for the development of effective water [...] Read more.
In rural areas in developing countries where livelihoods directly depend on agriculture, shortage of water can have severe socio-economic and humanitarian consequences and has been suggested to result in conflict and migration. Understanding such responses is important for the development of effective water management policies and other interventions. However, despite the availability of extensive knowledge on water-related human behavior, water resources planning studies do not always look beyond direct impacts. Therefore, this paper assesses literature on water-related human responses, the quantification and conceptualization methods and theories used, the scale at which models are applied, and the extent to which findings are used to make policy recommendations. We found system dynamics approaches mostly applied for policy evaluations, but often with a limited integration of human behavior beyond water use; agent-based models seem to be suited for policy analysis, but only limitedly applied for that purpose; and statistical studies to present the widest range of human responses and explanatory factors, but without making the behavioral mechanisms explicit. In fact, only a limited number of studies was based on behavioral theories. Based on these findings we recommend eight steps to facilitate quantification of human responses for water resources planning purposes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Modelling and Simulation of Human-Environment Interactions)
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Article
Demand for Storage and Import of Natural Gas in China until 2060: Simulation with a Dynamic Model
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8674; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158674 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 577
Abstract
China has been reforming its domestic natural gas market in recent years, while construction of storage systems is lagging behind. As natural gas accounts for an increasing proportion due to the goal of carbon neutrality, large-scale gas storage appears to be necessary to [...] Read more.
China has been reforming its domestic natural gas market in recent years, while construction of storage systems is lagging behind. As natural gas accounts for an increasing proportion due to the goal of carbon neutrality, large-scale gas storage appears to be necessary to satisfy the needs for gas peak shaving and national strategic security. Additionally, the domestic gas production in China cannot meet consumption demands, and imports will play a significant role on the supply side. This paper developed a system dynamics (SD) model and applied it to simulate gas market behaviors and estimated China’s gas storage capabilities and import demands over the next 40 years. To achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary for China to make great progress in its energy intensity and improve its energy structure, which have a great impact on natural gas consumption. Thus, alternative scenarios were defined to discuss the changes in the gas market with different gas storage goals and environmental constraints. The results show that under low and medium carbon price scenarios, natural gas demand will continue to grow in the next 40 years, but it will be difficult to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality. Under the high carbon price scenario, natural gas consumption will grow rapidly and reach a peak in approximately 2040, after which renewable energy will play a more important role to help achieve carbon neutrality. At the peak time, China’s gas storage demand will be 205.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) and import demand will reach 635.4 bcm, accounting for 72.8% of total consumption. We also identified the contradiction between the estimated storage capability, import demand and infrastructure planning. There will be a gap of 28.1–69.3 bcm between the planned storage capacity and simulated demand by 2030, while import facilities may partly strand assets. Finally, we provided some policy recommendations for constructing gas storage and import management and operation systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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Article
Students’ Perception about Sustainability in the Engineering School of Bilbao (University of the Basque Country): Insertion Level and Importance
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8673; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158673 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 516
Abstract
Almost three decades have passed since the Rio declaration, and after numerous initiatives developed to include sustainability in higher education, with the support of Education for Sustainable Development, it is worth wondering at what point is the process of inserting sustainability in university [...] Read more.
Almost three decades have passed since the Rio declaration, and after numerous initiatives developed to include sustainability in higher education, with the support of Education for Sustainable Development, it is worth wondering at what point is the process of inserting sustainability in university degrees. To clarify this question, engineering students were inquired, at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), about their perception of the insertion-level of sustainability and the importance they give to it (in environmental, social, and economic dimensions). The novelty of this study lies in the use of a new questionnaire, based on the students’ activity. The instrument was designed ad hoc and was previously validated for this study. The results indicate a low insertion level of sustainability in its three dimensions in three engineering degrees analysed. Nevertheless, the research also shows that the students give great importance to Sustainable Development (SD), either in academic, personal, or professional spheres. The low insertion level of SD and the high interest of students should be considered by the academic institution as an opportunity to deep in its holistic approach to promote the integration of SD in university curricula, not only in engineering degrees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education)
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Article
Meta-Analysis and Forest Plots for Sustainability of Heavy Load Carrier Equipment Used in the Industrial Mining Environment
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8672; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158672 - 03 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 566
Abstract
It is a common recommendation not to attempt a reliability analysis with a small sample size. However, this is feasible after considering certain statistical methods. One such method is meta-analysis, which can be considered to assess the effectiveness of a small sample size [...] Read more.
It is a common recommendation not to attempt a reliability analysis with a small sample size. However, this is feasible after considering certain statistical methods. One such method is meta-analysis, which can be considered to assess the effectiveness of a small sample size by combining data from different studies. The method explores the presence of heterogeneity and the robustness of the fresh large sample size using sensitivity analysis. The present study describes the approach in the reliability estimation of diesel engines and the components of industrial heavy load carrier equipment used in mines for transporting ore. A meta-analysis is carried out on field-based small-sample data for the reliability of different subsystems of the engine. The level of heterogeneity is calculated for each subsystem, which is further verified by constructing a forest plot. The level of heterogeneity was 0 for four subsystems and 2.23% for the air supply subsystem, which is very low. The result of the forest plot shows that all the plotted points mostly lie either on the center line (line of no effect) or very close to it, for all five subsystems. Hence, it was found that the grouping of an extremely small number of failure data is possible. By using this grouped TBF data, reliability analysis could be very easily carried out. Full article
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Article
Mapping National Environmental Sustainability Distribution by Ecological Footprint: The Case of Italy
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8671; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158671 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 500
Abstract
The paper proposes a possible way of spatially representing sustainability in Italy. For this purpose, the ecological footprint approach was used as a methodological framework to assess the level of sustainability of the 8092 Italian municipalities. For each municipality, the exploitation of ecosystem [...] Read more.
The paper proposes a possible way of spatially representing sustainability in Italy. For this purpose, the ecological footprint approach was used as a methodological framework to assess the level of sustainability of the 8092 Italian municipalities. For each municipality, the exploitation of ecosystem services, assessed by the ecological footprint indicator, and the corresponding availability of biological capacity, associated to an indicator, have been calculated and compared, thus generating a map representing the relative sustainability of Italian municipalities. The results show a very scattered distribution of ecological balance, wherein unsustainable conditions characterize more than 60% of the territory and almost 95% of the Italian population. Despite the limitations of the methodology and some assumptions regarding the ecological footprint assessment at the municipality level, the study represents an attempt to produce an innovating tool that, based on an operational definition of sustainability, can represent natural resource exploitation at the local level, and provide useful information to address coherent and targeted environmental policies of sustainability. Full article
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Article
An Improved Forecasting Method and Application of China’s Energy Consumption under the Carbon Peak Target
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8670; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158670 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 463
Abstract
In the process of economic development, the consumption of energy leads to environmental pollution. Environmental pollution affects the sustainable development of the world, and therefore energy consumption needs to be controlled. To help China formulate sustainable development policies, this paper proposes an energy [...] Read more.
In the process of economic development, the consumption of energy leads to environmental pollution. Environmental pollution affects the sustainable development of the world, and therefore energy consumption needs to be controlled. To help China formulate sustainable development policies, this paper proposes an energy consumption forecasting model based on an improved whale algorithm optimizing a linear support vector regression machine. The model combines multiple optimization methods to overcome the shortcomings of traditional models. This effectively improves the forecasting performance. The results of the projection of China’s future energy consumption data show that current policies are unable to achieve the carbon peak target. This result requires China to develop relevant policies, especially measures related to energy consumption factors, as soon as possible to ensure that China can achieve its peak carbon targets. Full article
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Article
Guess What …?—How Guessed Norms Nudge Climate-Friendly Food Choices in Real-Life Settings
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8669; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158669 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 558
Abstract
Social norms, also called social comparison nudges, have been shown to be particularly effective in promoting healthy food choices and environmentally friendly behaviors. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of these nudges for promoting sustainable and climate-friendly food choices and their [...] Read more.
Social norms, also called social comparison nudges, have been shown to be particularly effective in promoting healthy food choices and environmentally friendly behaviors. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of these nudges for promoting sustainable and climate-friendly food choices and their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support the related SDGs. The paper reports a field experiment that tests the effectiveness of two social norms in a real-life setting based on revealed preferences. The study distinguishes between the widely researched descriptive norms and guessed norms, the latter being tested in this context for the first time. While descriptive norms communicate typical patterns of behavior (e.g., 50% of canteen visitors choose vegetarian meals), guessed norms are determined by the individual’s best guess about the norm in a specific context. The results confirm a remarkable nudging effect of guessed norms: The higher the presumed proportion of vegetarian dishes sold, the lower the probability of choosing a vegetarian dish. Surprisingly, this effect is independent of the respective norm specification (meat or vegetarian norm). The paper provides advice for policy makers about when and how to use guessed norms. Full article
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Article
Setting Up a Flipped Classroom Design to Reduce Student Academic Procrastination
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8668; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158668 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 748
Abstract
The transfer of educational activities to the online environment within blended learning, which was also accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increases the risk of growing student procrastination. This article describes the design of the flipped class, which is designed so that students are [...] Read more.
The transfer of educational activities to the online environment within blended learning, which was also accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, increases the risk of growing student procrastination. This article describes the design of the flipped class, which is designed so that students are supported and motivated to continuously perform individual tasks. Great emphasis in the described design of the flipped classroom is placed on supporting students in their activities outside the classroom. It is in this part of blended learning that procrastination is a frequent cause of students’ failure, not just in mathematics. The effectiveness of our proposed inverted class design has been experimentally verified. Statistical analysis of the data showed that students had a statistically significant reduction in procrastination behavior during the course of the experiment. The proposed flipped classroom design has the potential to increase students’ self-regulatory skills, which has been reflected in a change in their approach to learning responsibilities. Students’ approach to online learning outside the classroom has changed, and thus their probability of successfully completing the combinatorics course has increased statistically significantly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Education and Scholarship in Higher Education)
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Article
Evaluation of the Implementation Effect of the Ecological Compensation Policy in the Poyang Lake River Basin Based on Difference-in-Difference Method
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8667; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158667 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 424
Abstract
Watershed environments play an important supporting role in sustainable high-quality economic development in China, but they have been deteriorating. In order to solve environmental problems in the Poyang Lake River Basin brought about by economic development, the Jiangxi Provincial Government promulgated relevant river [...] Read more.
Watershed environments play an important supporting role in sustainable high-quality economic development in China, but they have been deteriorating. In order to solve environmental problems in the Poyang Lake River Basin brought about by economic development, the Jiangxi Provincial Government promulgated relevant river basin protection policies in 2015. However, after several years of this policy, the specific effects of its implementation are a matter of general concern to the government and academic circles. After years of policy implementation, the implementation effect of the watershed ecological compensation policy needs to be evaluated. Based on 4248 observations from the Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces, we adopt the difference-in-difference method to analyze the impact of the ecological compensation policy on the Poyang Lake River Basin. The empirical results show that the ecological compensation policy has a significant effect on water-quality improvement. Water quality in the upstream area is better than that in the downstream area; areas with small administrative areas have a smaller population, which in turn leads to better water quality in the river basin; and the higher the per capita GDP, the worse the water quality. Our results highlight the need for the following policy improvements: ecological priority, customizing measures to local conditions, tracing the main body, and strengthening supervision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue People-Environment Relationships in Social Development and Transition)
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Article
Social Interaction: A Crucial Means to Promote Sustainability in Initial Teacher Training
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8666; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158666 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 403
Abstract
This study aims to identify the set of elements in the educational process that affect the creation of a teaching profile consistent with the principles of sustainability. In this research, we focus on identifying those sustainability attributes related to understanding social interaction and [...] Read more.
This study aims to identify the set of elements in the educational process that affect the creation of a teaching profile consistent with the principles of sustainability. In this research, we focus on identifying those sustainability attributes related to understanding social interaction and its role in the learning process of logical-mathematical knowledge. Social interaction is an essential part of the principle of collaboration. The study participants were 133 future teachers, students of the degree in Early Childhood Education at the Universidad de Cádiz (Spain). Qualitative methods and techniques were used to collect data, and mixed methods and techniques were employed for their analysis. The data relating to the student’s perception of the importance of social interaction in learning were gathered through the final reports produced by the students. The data were processed by classifying them into categories and subcategories. The meaning condensation method used enabled identifying 33 sustainability attributes linked to socio-cultural learning. Those attributes identify and describe the internal dynamics of cooperative learning and show the synergies and interrelationships between social interactions, socio-cognitive conflict and language. The results stress the importance of a meaningful understanding of the role of social interaction in learning in order to promote the principles of sustainability. Full article
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Article
The Impacts of Technology Shocks on Sustainable Development from the Perspective of Energy Structure—A DSGE Model Approach
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8665; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158665 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 419
Abstract
Considering that the effect of different types of energy on sustainable development differs, the optimization of energy structure is commonly seen as a decisive factor for sustainable development. In this study, we focus on energy structure and construct a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium [...] Read more.
Considering that the effect of different types of energy on sustainable development differs, the optimization of energy structure is commonly seen as a decisive factor for sustainable development. In this study, we focus on energy structure and construct a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) analysis framework including the environment, society, and the economy. Furthermore, we analyze the effect of different technology shocks on sustainable development when the proportion of clean energy is separately set at 10%, 20%, and 40%. To demonstrate the conclusions of the DSGE analysis framework, we construct the sustainability index and measure the relationship between the sustainability index scores and the proportion of clean energy of 68 countries in 2017, and the R2 of the linear relationship between the sustainability index score and the proportion of clean energy was 0.30. Results show that the technology shock of clean energy exhibits more benefits for sustainable development than that of non-clean energy. Moreover, we find that the optimization of the energy structure can be helpful for the enhancement of sustainable development capacity. This study is helpful to expand the DSGE analysis framework from the perspective of energy structure. This study also provides effective ways and reference suggestions for local governments to optimize energy structure and improve sustainable development capability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Firms and Economies)
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Communication
Science for Good Environmental Status: A European Joint Action to Support Marine Policy
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8664; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158664 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 426
Abstract
In the last decade, several initiatives have been taken at a European level to adopt the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by promoting coordination and stimulating integrated actions leading to consistent views on its final goal: the achievement of good environmental status (GES). [...] Read more.
In the last decade, several initiatives have been taken at a European level to adopt the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) by promoting coordination and stimulating integrated actions leading to consistent views on its final goal: the achievement of good environmental status (GES). In its holistic approach, the MSFD fully acknowledges the complexity and variability of marine ecosystems and demands constant scientific support for its actual implementation. Recently, the Joint Programming Initiative on “Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans” (JPI Oceans) launched the joint action “Science for Good Environmental Status” (Science4GES), building on the contribution of different scientific disciplines and communities to better fulfill the scope of the MSFD. In this paper we illustrate and discuss a few crucial aspects of endeavors to implement the MSFD specifically implied in the definition of the metrics for the 11 descriptors and GES in its complexity, as well as improving the strategy governing its implementation. This presentation also describes the challenges, aims and implementation plan for the JPI-O joint action, where a transdisciplinary approach may help in progressing from the comprehensive and far-reaching vision of the MSFD to the achievement of a durable GES. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mitigating Marine Hazards and Sustainable Developing Strategic)
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Article
Transparency and Accountability in Sports: Measuring the Social and Financial Performance of Spanish Professional Football
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8663; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158663 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 620
Abstract
This study reviews the impact of the Spanish Transparency Law (TL) 19/2013 and the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, on the transparency and accountability of Spanish professional football clubs, and examines the influence of financial performance on [...] Read more.
This study reviews the impact of the Spanish Transparency Law (TL) 19/2013 and the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, on the transparency and accountability of Spanish professional football clubs, and examines the influence of financial performance on the transparency of Spanish football clubs. The study uses a Panel Data methodology (FGLS) to compare the international transparency index for football clubs (INFUT) with the criteria of UEFA’s FFP as a measure of the social and financial performance, respectively, on a sample of 28 Spanish professional teams of first and second division during the periods of 2015, 2016, and 2019. The study reveals that the implementation of TL 19/2013 and UEFA’s FFP has improved the transparency and accountability of clubs. On the one hand, the TL has facilitated access to financial information, and, on the other, the FFP regulations have contributed to improving the balance and financial viability of the clubs. The study also reveals that financial performance directly influences the transparency of clubs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategic Planning of Sports Systems)
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Article
Coalition Formation among the Cooperative Agents for Efficient Energy Consumption
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8662; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158662 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 384
Abstract
Energy saving is a significant research area in Saudi Arabia; however, significant problems have emerged related to its distribution and consumption. Use of an agent is assumed to combat these problems by forming efficient coalitions to control the energy consumption and energy distribution [...] Read more.
Energy saving is a significant research area in Saudi Arabia; however, significant problems have emerged related to its distribution and consumption. Use of an agent is assumed to combat these problems by forming efficient coalitions to control the energy consumption and energy distribution process. This study presents a novel algorithm for distributing the value calculation among the cooperative agents. This is likely to reduce the consumption of energy and extend the coalition lifetime used. The developed algorithm is compared with the basic modified coalition formation algorithm for evaluating its effectiveness. The results showed a reduction in cooling consumption by 20% after applying optimization algorithms. The amount of reduction in the cooling consumption reflects a 31% reduction in expected cooling costs, without affecting the household comfort. Therefore, the study concludes that DNsys provided better performance than the NNsys. Full article
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Article
Impact of Tax Incentives on Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from Africa
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8661; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158661 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 563
Abstract
African countries have faced competition and several challenges to attract foreign direct investment given the role that FDIs play in the development process. Several efforts made have been futile because of numerous factors that play against the business environment for foreign investments. Our [...] Read more.
African countries have faced competition and several challenges to attract foreign direct investment given the role that FDIs play in the development process. Several efforts made have been futile because of numerous factors that play against the business environment for foreign investments. Our paper analyses the influence of tax incentives on foreign direct investment in African economies based on data from 2000–2018. We utilized panel data on forty (40) African countries and an econometric model of four proxies of tax incentives, after controlling other variables, with robust Random Effect as our discussion estimator. Our results revealed that FDI responds to lower corporate income tax (CTR). Furthermore, foreign direct investment predominates in African economies with longer tax holidays and withholding tax. However, tax concession is insignificant to the inflows of FDIs in Africa. Summarizing, our results recommend that without proper restructuring of the tax incentives to deal with policy lapses by the governments of Africa, achieving the four main goals, i.e., poverty eradication, sustainable growth and development, African integration in the competitive global economy, and women empowerment, will be hindered. Full article
Article
Multi-Objective Particle Swarm Optimization-Based Decision Support Model for Integrating Renewable Energy Systems in a Korean Campus Building
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8660; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158660 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 425
Abstract
Renewable energy systems are an alternative to existing systems to achieve energy savings and carbon dioxide emission reduction. Subsequently, preventing the reckless installation of renewable energy systems and formulating appropriate energy policies, including sales strategies, is critical. Thus, this study aimed to achieve [...] Read more.
Renewable energy systems are an alternative to existing systems to achieve energy savings and carbon dioxide emission reduction. Subsequently, preventing the reckless installation of renewable energy systems and formulating appropriate energy policies, including sales strategies, is critical. Thus, this study aimed to achieve energy reduction through optimal selection of the capacity and lifetime of solar thermal (ST) and ground source heat pump (GSHP) systems that can reduce the thermal energy of buildings including the most widely used photovoltaic (PV) systems. Additionally, this study explored decision-making for optimal PV, ST, and GSHP installation considering economic and environmental factors such as energy sales strategy and electricity price according to energy policies. Therefore, an optimization model based on multi-objective particle swarm optimization was proposed to maximize lifecycle cost and energy savings based on the target energy savings according to PV capacity. Furthermore, the proposed model was verified through a case study on campus buildings in Korea: PV 60 kW and ST 32 m2 GSHP10 kW with a lifetime of 50 years were found to be the optimal combination and capacity. The proposed model guarantees economic optimization, is scalable, and can be used as a decision-making model to install renewable energy systems in buildings worldwide. Full article
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Article
State Ownership and Accounting Quality: Evidence from State-Owned Enterprises in China
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8659; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158659 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 390
Abstract
The inherent problems of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), such as the lack of external monitoring, may harm their accounting quality. However, the results from prior research are not consistent. Therefore, this study investigates the effect of state ownership of SOEs on accounting quality, measured [...] Read more.
The inherent problems of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), such as the lack of external monitoring, may harm their accounting quality. However, the results from prior research are not consistent. Therefore, this study investigates the effect of state ownership of SOEs on accounting quality, measured by earnings management. Using the samples of listed SOEs in the A-share market in China from 2009 to 2017, the results indicate that there is a significant and positive relationship between state ownership and earnings management. Furthermore, the results show that higher competition within the industry can effectively inhibit the negative effect of state ownership on accounting quality. Interestingly, the positive relationship between state ownership and earnings management has weakened in recent years, suggesting that the recent mixed-ownership reform of SOEs is effectively working. Collectively, current study extends prior research by focusing on SOEs in a planned economy and by combining the mixed-ownership reform with earnings management. Consequently, this study provides practical implication to regulatory bodies by showing that state ownership plays an important role in the accounting quality of SOEs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
Article
Technology and Corporate Social Responsibility
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8658; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158658 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 646
Abstract
This study examined the importance of technologies in advancing modern organizations’ corporate social responsibility (CSR). Drawing upon environmentalist and technological theories, we analyzed the shift from the traditional development of technology to the development of sustainable technologies for the further sustainable advancement of [...] Read more.
This study examined the importance of technologies in advancing modern organizations’ corporate social responsibility (CSR). Drawing upon environmentalist and technological theories, we analyzed the shift from the traditional development of technology to the development of sustainable technologies for the further sustainable advancement of organizations. Technology has decisively influenced the development of humankind, but its research has traditionally excluded sustainable development issues. Newer technological visions have addressed the incorporation of technologies in all industries more comprehensively to solve social issues related to environmental protection and sustainable economic development. Such an orientation is followed by several conceptual solutions, such as the sustainable use of traditional technologies, development of sustainable technologies, and interdisciplinary treatment of sustainable technology to extend the CSR model. The results of our study have theoretical implications, highlighting the effects of technological development and new technologies on the course of further societal sustainable development. Practical implications include extending CSR’s Triple Bottom model with a technological dimension to improve organizations’ further sustainable operating and behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of COVID 19 on Sustainability of Organizations)
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Article
EDUROVs: A Low Cost and Sustainable Remotely Operated Vehicles Educational Program
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8657; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158657 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 340
Abstract
EDUROV is an educational underwater robot proposal from the researchers of the Oceanic Platform of Canary Islands (PLOCAN) and the Computer Vision and Robotics research group of the University of Girona (VICOROB), launched in January 2012 with the support of the Spanish Foundation [...] Read more.
EDUROV is an educational underwater robot proposal from the researchers of the Oceanic Platform of Canary Islands (PLOCAN) and the Computer Vision and Robotics research group of the University of Girona (VICOROB), launched in January 2012 with the support of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECyT). This program has evolved in the last decade in order to make it more sustainable, allowing the teleoperation of underwater vehicles from anywhere in the world. EDUROVs have passed through several phases, beginning with a basic electronics robot, followed by the incorporation of open-source electronic prototyping platforms and finally reaching the current state of teleoperation. Results based on 1–5 Likert scale questions show that both students and teachers consider the program useful to introduce technical and scientific concepts. It is concluded that the use of low-cost materials and tools that are easy to obtain, following education on sustainability approaches, also makes them possible for use in high schools, and science teachers can easily carry out the activity. Moreover, the possibility of remote teleoperation of underwater vehicles, together with the collaboration among groups of students in different locations that are in contact through these online tools, allows one to motivate students to work on the project from a different perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Application of Robotics in Sustainability Education)
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Article
A Methodological Approach to Designing Circular Economy Indicators for Agriculture: An Application to the Egg Sector
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8656; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158656 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 592
Abstract
Analysing production systems from a circular economy (CE) perspective helps to pinpoint interventions to mitigate the environmental footprint by improving resource use efficiency, waste recovery, and prolonged product usage, recycling and reuse. Few studies exist on the measurement of CE at the micro-level. [...] Read more.
Analysing production systems from a circular economy (CE) perspective helps to pinpoint interventions to mitigate the environmental footprint by improving resource use efficiency, waste recovery, and prolonged product usage, recycling and reuse. Few studies exist on the measurement of CE at the micro-level. Additionally, available metrics/indicators address only certain aspects of the CE’s socio-economic metabolism, ignoring important components of the CE concept. Other frameworks propose a single indicator that aggregates and summarizes several facets of CE. This study develops a holistic approach for designing indicators with a structured methodology and an analytical framework to assess CE at the micro (unit of production) level in agriculture. The proposed approach is based on the ECOGRAI method for indicator development, and on validation of the methods with experts and final users via an application to egg production in Canada. Twenty-five performance indicators (PI) were generated for 11 decision variables that were selected as important for the sector. This resulted in a practical tool that proposes fourteen actions to improve the economic circularity (EC) of egg farms. Our methodological approach could be replicated to assess CE performance in other agricultural sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy and Sustainable Strategies)
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Article
How Can the Celebrity Endorsement Effect Help Consumer Engagement? A Case of Promoting Tourism Products through Live Streaming
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8655; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158655 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 541
Abstract
Although much research has been devoted to the study of the impact of celebrity endorsements on the effectiveness of advertising in the literature on consumer behavior, few scholars pay attention to applying this concept to explain consumer behavior in the tourism field. This [...] Read more.
Although much research has been devoted to the study of the impact of celebrity endorsements on the effectiveness of advertising in the literature on consumer behavior, few scholars pay attention to applying this concept to explain consumer behavior in the tourism field. This research tested celebrities’ expertise, trustworthiness, and attractiveness as the antecedents of consumer trust and engagement in the tourism and hospitality context. Specifically, through the analysis of 406 valid responses collected by online questionnaire, this study makes the following conclusions. First, it provides a new perspective on the influence of celebrity effects by focusing on the live-streaming behavior of CEOs on China’s largest online travel agency (OTA) platform. Secondly, it confirms that the three dimensions of the celebrity effect (expertise, trustworthiness, and attractiveness) positively affect the three dimensions of consumer trust (ability, benevolence, and integrity). At the same time, consumer trust can also predict the three dimensions of consumer engagement (cognitive processing, affection, and activation). In addition, the three dimensions of consumer trust also play a positive mediating role between the relationship of celebrity effects and consumer engagement. That is, the celebrity effects have a positive and indirect influence on consumer engagement. Therefore, by suggesting that celebrity endorsements can create consumer trust and engagement in the OTA platform, this research expands the research framework of celebrity endorsement credibility theory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marketing Management in Hospitality and Tourism Industries)
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Article
Exploring the Interrelationship between COVID-19 Phobia, Work–Family Conflict, Family–Work Conflict, and Life Satisfaction among School Administrators for Advancing Sustainable Management
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8654; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158654 - 03 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 719
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the relationships between the COVID-19 phobia experienced by school administrators and their work–family conflict, family–work conflict, and life satisfaction. This descriptive research, designed according to the relational survey model, was conducted with the participation of 356 school administrators. [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the relationships between the COVID-19 phobia experienced by school administrators and their work–family conflict, family–work conflict, and life satisfaction. This descriptive research, designed according to the relational survey model, was conducted with the participation of 356 school administrators. The study data were collected through online questionnaires, and then t-test, ANOVA, correlation analysis, and simple linear regression analysis were employed for the statistical analyses. The results revealed that female school administrators experienced greater levels of COVID-19 phobia than their male peers and that COVID-19 phobia is felt more intensely in the psychological and social sub-dimensions. However, female school administrators’ life satisfaction levels were significantly higher than those of male school administrators. In the current study, it was determined that school administrators in the younger age group experienced greater levels of COVID-19 phobia and family–work/work–family conflict than their peers from other age groups. The results of this study revealed a positive and moderate relationship between school administrators’ COVID-19 phobia and their levels of both work–family and family–work conflict. The findings of the study offer significant implications for policy makers in education, showing the importance of developing strategies that will reduce the effects of the pandemic for a more sustainable and efficient employee performance. Full article
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Article
Telluric and Climate-Related Risk Awareness, and Risk Mitigation Strategies in the Azores Archipelago: First Steps for Building Societal Resilience
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8653; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158653 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 322
Abstract
Islands are often considered excellent socio-ecological laboratories for testing the rapidity of global change since they experience the climate effects of sea-level rise faster than other areas. The Azores are a Portuguese volcanic archipelago located on the junction of the three tectonic plates: [...] Read more.
Islands are often considered excellent socio-ecological laboratories for testing the rapidity of global change since they experience the climate effects of sea-level rise faster than other areas. The Azores are a Portuguese volcanic archipelago located on the junction of the three tectonic plates: the Eurasian, the African and the North American plates. São Miguel, the main island of the Azores archipelago, hosts three active volcanoes, but the last significant volcanic eruption was the Capelinhos volcano on the island of Faial in 1957. Hence, the Azores offers the opportunity to assess insular risk awareness, facing both telluric and climate-related hazards. The key research question emerges from their natural situation: how does the local population perceive the threat of the natural hazards that occur in Azores? Because risks are socially constructed and depend on the uniqueness of territories, risk mitigation strategies must focus on the individual experiences of local dwellers, as a relationship between risk awareness and such strategies may be expected. To analyze this relationship, a web-based survey with a questionnaire including these variables was administered to a sample of Azoreans. The study aimed to assess risk awareness of the Azorean population and find a relationship between this and reported mitigation strategies. The results gave a preliminary insight into Azorean risk awareness of natural hazards and showed a significant positive relationship between risk awareness-raising activities and reported mitigation strategies. This is relevant information for municipalities and regional governments of areas with similar risk exposures, showing that, although risk awareness alone is not enough for measures to be implemented, it may be an important motivational first step for this to occur. Full article
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Article
Experimental Analysis of Passive Strategies in Houses with Glass Façades for the Use of Natural Light
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8652; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158652 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 416
Abstract
The main objective of this research was to analyze the passive solutions that help to reduce energy consumption through the use of natural light in buildings. In this case, the analysis focused on the use of natural light in buildings with all façades [...] Read more.
The main objective of this research was to analyze the passive solutions that help to reduce energy consumption through the use of natural light in buildings. In this case, the analysis focused on the use of natural light in buildings with all façades made of glass. Buildings designed with the criterion of regenerative sustainability, such as glass buildings, consider not only energy efficiency and the use of renewable and/or alternative energies, but also the improvement of the health and well-being of users—very important factors during an era in which the time spent at home has been increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic (disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus). This experimental research was based on the analysis of data collected during a full year of monitoring of two scale models of Farnsworth House, a house with glass façades in all of its orientations. The results allowed us to conclude that these passive elements must be taken into account in the initial design of a building; a solar control sheet is also advisable in this type of glass building because it greatly reduces the illuminance inside the spaces, and the use of overhangs distributes the illuminance inside the rooms more evenly. In addition, the use of scale models provides a more accurate view of the parameters related to light energy. Full article
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Article
LED versus HPS Lighting: Effects on Water and Energy Consumption and Yield Quality in Lettuce Greenhouse Production
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8651; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158651 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 652
Abstract
High-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting is increasingly replaced by LED lighting in lettuce greenhouse cultivation. In contrast to HPS lighting, LEDs do not heat radiation. Therefore, the leaf temperature is significantly lower under LEDs. This raises the question of whether LED lighting has a [...] Read more.
High-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting is increasingly replaced by LED lighting in lettuce greenhouse cultivation. In contrast to HPS lighting, LEDs do not heat radiation. Therefore, the leaf temperature is significantly lower under LEDs. This raises the question of whether LED lighting has a positive impact on the reduction in water consumption during lettuce production. In this paper, we investigated this question and found that the water consumption of lettuce produced under LEDs was significantly lower (−15%) than under HPS without loss of yield. We also found that supplementary lighting increases the concentrations of caffeoylquinic acid, dicaffeoyltartaric acid, dicaffeoylquinic acid and that of the total phenolic compounds in lettuce leaves by 61%, 39%, 163% and 38%, respectively. Only the LED fixture was also efficient enough to increase the concentration of caffeoyltartaric acid (+24%). Most of the phenolic compounds showed a very strong positive correlation with the chlorophyll concentration in lettuce, which predominated in the leaves exposed to the LED lighting. Based on these facts, we conclude that by optimizing the light composition, more sustainable plant production, higher concentrations of chlorophyll and some phenolic compounds are possible. Full article
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Article
Financial and Labour Obstacles and Firm Employment: Evidence from Europe and Central Asia Firms
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8650; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158650 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 400
Abstract
This paper examines how obstacles in access to finance, labour regulations, and employment quality affect employment growth and the permanent worker ratio at the firm level. Using firm-level data of 11,691 firms in 33 low-income and middle-income countries in Europe and Central Asia, [...] Read more.
This paper examines how obstacles in access to finance, labour regulations, and employment quality affect employment growth and the permanent worker ratio at the firm level. Using firm-level data of 11,691 firms in 33 low-income and middle-income countries in Europe and Central Asia, where unemployment rates are the highest worldwide, this paper demonstrates that access to finance and employment quality obstacles hinder employment growth. The paper also shows that the greater the obstacles in access to finance and labour regulations, the lower the permanent worker ratio. The findings are robust when applying a two-stage least-squares method to address endogeneity issues. Furthermore, quantile regression analysis shows that access to finance obstacles impede the lowest-growth firms the most and the highest-growth firms the least. Our results indicate that significant financial and regulatory reforms are needed to spur sustainable employment growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
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Article
Analysis of the Relationships between Tourism Efficiency and Transport Accessibility—A Case Study in Hubei Province, China
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8649; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158649 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 402
Abstract
There is a close relationship between tourism efficiency and transport accessibility, but there is little research on the topic. This paper takes 17 administrative units in Hubei Province as the research object, evaluates their tourism efficiency from 2011 to 2017 and transportation accessibility [...] Read more.
There is a close relationship between tourism efficiency and transport accessibility, but there is little research on the topic. This paper takes 17 administrative units in Hubei Province as the research object, evaluates their tourism efficiency from 2011 to 2017 and transportation accessibility in 2011 and 2017, and explores the temporal and spatial correlation between the two. The results showed that, from 2011 to 2017, tourism efficiency of Hubei province was high and steadily improving, space non-equilibrium gradually decreased, and differences shrank. In 2011 and 2017, the province had a good tourism transport accessibility, and the spatial distribution pattern was high in the east and low in the west. At the same time, tourism transport continued to improve, and spatial imbalance declined. In 2011 and 2017, the coupling and coordination of tourism efficiency and its decomposition efficiency and transport accessibility in Hubei Province were both good, indicative of the development of a tourism economy and the improvement of tourism transport facilities in all regions of the province. There is also a poor spatial matching of tourism efficiency and its decomposition efficiency with transport accessibility during the study period. This study suggested that the tourism efficiency and transport accessibility increased in Hubie province, but the coupling and spatial match remain not very good. Therefore, each region should improve the spatial match and coupling degree of tourism efficiency and transport accessibility, and enhance the sustainability of tourism development. Full article
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Article
Analysing Clusters of Consumers Who Use Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Products
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8648; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158648 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 432
Abstract
The trend towards health and environmental protection has led to an increase in the consumption of medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) products. The market for MAP products is influenced by consumer behaviour and therefore the aim of this study was to identify consumer [...] Read more.
The trend towards health and environmental protection has led to an increase in the consumption of medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) products. The market for MAP products is influenced by consumer behaviour and therefore the aim of this study was to identify consumer segments that use MAP products for phytotherapeutic, cosmetic and personal care purposes according to their perceptions, attitudes and consumption habits and possible correlations between consumption of MAP products and interest in a healthy lifestyle and sustainable behaviour. Data collection was performed by administering a questionnaire to Cluj-Napoca residents. The final sample consisted of two groups of MAP consumers: the first with 231 respondents who use these products for phytotherapeutic purposes, the second group—with 297 respondents who use them as cosmetic and personal care products. The collected data were statistically analysed using the k-means clustering model, resulting in two distinct clusters in both consumer groups: cluster 1, the “Curious”, and Cluster 2, the “Knowledgeable”. For the consumers of the second cluster, consumption was positively correlated with healthcare and environmental protection, while they exhibited a growing interest in environmentally certified MAP products. The results obtained contribute to a better understanding of the MAP products consumption behaviour while tackling the practical implications for stakeholders in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry through the development and innovation of products tailored to consumer needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Health as Trends in Consumer Behaviour)
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Article
The Effects of Seismic Coefficient Uncertainty on Pseudo-Static Slope Stability: A Probabilistic Sensitivity Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8647; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158647 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 360
Abstract
The method of pseudo-static analysis has been widely used to perform seismic slope stability, in which a seismic coefficient is used to represent the earthquake shaking effect. However, it is important but difficult to select the magnitude of seismic coefficients, which are inevitably [...] Read more.
The method of pseudo-static analysis has been widely used to perform seismic slope stability, in which a seismic coefficient is used to represent the earthquake shaking effect. However, it is important but difficult to select the magnitude of seismic coefficients, which are inevitably subjected to different levels of uncertainties. This paper aimed to study the influences of seismic coefficient uncertainties on pseudo-static slope stability from the perspective of probabilistic sensitivity analysis. The deterministic critical slope height was estimated by the method of upper-bound limit analysis with the method of pseudo-static analysis. The soil shear strength parameters, the slope geometrical parameters (including slope inclinations, slope heights, and the slope widths), the horizontal seismic acceleration coefficient, and the unit weight of soil masses were considered as random variables. The influences of their uncertainty degrees, the correlation relations, and the distribution types of random variables on probabilistic density functions, failure probabilities, and sensitivity analysis were discussed. It was shown that the uncertainty degrees greatly impact the probability density distributions of critical slope heights, the computed failure probabilities, and Sobol’ index, and the horizontal seismic coefficient was the second most important variable compared to the soil shear strength parameters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reliability and Optimization for Engineering Design)
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Article
Influence of Thermal Enclosures on Energy Saving Simulations of Residential Building Typologies in European Climatic Zones
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8646; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158646 - 03 Aug 2021
Viewed by 458
Abstract
Nowadays, the computational simulation of the energy consumption in buildings is a key issue to determine the most proficient configuration between the construction solutions and the necessary equipment, without compromising comfort and accomplishing the legal requirements for each country. The feasible and most [...] Read more.
Nowadays, the computational simulation of the energy consumption in buildings is a key issue to determine the most proficient configuration between the construction solutions and the necessary equipment, without compromising comfort and accomplishing the legal requirements for each country. The feasible and most profitable solutions can lead to minimizing CO2 emissions and environmental impact. In this work, the internal enclosures influencing the evaluation of energy consumption by energy simulation have been analysed in order to obtain an accurate solution when all the information regarding the internal partitions is not available. The main aim of the present research was to evaluate the role of internal distribution in the simulations of the total building energy consumption. Differences between the results of the energy simulations of buildings that are calculated considering their internal distribution, and those in which only the exterior geometry that makes up the perimeter of the envelope are being described. In this way, it is intended to establish a correction factor based on the building typology and the European climate zone that allows simulation tools to describe the energy reality of a building without knowing its internal distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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