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Applications of aggregation theory to sustainability assessment

In order to aid operations that promote sustainability goals, researchers and stakeholders use sustainability assessments.  Although assessments take various forms, many utilize diverse sets of indicators numbering anywhere from two to over 2000. Indices, composite indicators, or aggregate values are used to simplify high dimensional and complex data sets and to clarify assessment results. Although the choice of aggregation function is a key component in the development of the assessment, there are fewliterature examples to guide appropriate
aggregation function selection. This paper applies the mathematical study of aggregation functions to sustainability assessment in order to aid in providing criteria for aggregation function selection. Relevant mathematical properties of aggregation functions are presented and interpreted. Cases of these properties and their relation to previous sustainability assessment research are provided. Examples show that mathematical aggregation properties can be used to address the topics of compensatory behavior and weak versus strong sustainability, aggregation of data under varying units of measurements, multiple site multiple indicator aggregation, and the determination of error bounds in aggregate output for normalized and non-normalized indicator measures.

Nathan Pollesch
Publication Year
Bioenergy Category
Contact Person
Virginia Dale
Contact Organization
Center for BioEnergy Sustainability, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Data Source
Ecological Economics Journal
Usage Policy
This manuscript has been authored by UT-Battelle, LLC under Contract No. DE-AC05- 00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy. The United States Government and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledge that the United States
Funded from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Bioenergy Technologies Office.