Completed Projects

+ Development of Urban Sustainability Indicators: An Integration of Scientific and Participatory Approaches in China

As part of the broader initiative with CCIEE, and under the Earth Institute’s Cross-Cutting Initiative, we developed an urban sustainability indicator set for Chinese cities using three cities in China’s Henan Province as a pilot case. In one of the first studies of its kind to propose integrating both top-down and bottom-up methods, we integrated scientific and participatory approaches in designing the indicator set, one which measures what is important for local communities, but also captures key factors of sustainable development that are sufficiently universal for broad cross-comparison between cities. We envision that the indicator set will be taken up by local governments in our field sites and scaled up to other Chinese cities as part of our broader project.

+ Environmental, Social, and Governance Analytics Scoring Application

Led by Satyajit Bose, and sponsored by ESG Analytics, the Earth Institute Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management created a benchmarking methodology for a scoring model for users of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data available on Bloomberg terminals.  The model facilitates analysis, comparison, and scoring of publicly listed companies on relative ESG performance.  We have collaborated with ESG Analytics to develop a statistical methodology for the assessment framework.  This research has enabled ESG Analytics to develop the software application that provides users with critical ESG information relevant to investment decision-making.

+ Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC)

The Earth Institute Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management conducted a project for the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) with the aim of advancing our collective state of knowledge about Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) training programs.The Research Program conducted a review of ISC’s EHS+ training program with a primary focus on the training program’s existing approach of relying on leadership and advocacy of trainees to affect EHS change on the factory floor. The review identified metrics and tools that could be used to assess the success of the program in terms of its effect on program participants, and in turn, on the factory floor. This research included a literature review that focused on EHS programs and relevant and similar training programs in China and elsewhere in the world, onsite visits to ISC’s EHS+ training facilities, and interviews with training participants.

+ The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)

The Earth Institute Research Program on Sustainability Policy and Management and the Columbia Global Center | East Asia are executing study for The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), complementing its research in China through an evaluation of the application of the Sustainability Measurement and Reporting System (SMRS). The study will assess the deployment of the SMRS in China, and its success as a tool for improved decision making on sustainability initiatives.  This project aims to assess the effectiveness, appropriateness, and The-Sustainability-Consortiumpracticality of the SMRS in China, which would be an integral part of TSC China’s initial research agenda, and critical to the development and expansion of TSC in China. The project will evaluate the subsequent outcomes for user entities like Walmart and how it helps them achieve their sustainability goals.

+ Environmental Metrics for Jiyuan, China

The potential tradeoff between the twin goals of reducing environmental impact while maintaining growth will require China’s cities to evaluate the economic impact of urban pollution at the local level. Using economic input-output analysis, city-level indicators of economic activity and environmental impact, and available estimates of the benchmark relationships between output and pollution by sector, we outline a method to quantify–in monetary terms–the marginal damages of air pollution by sector at the city level. By applying the framework of environmental accounting to the pilot case of Jiyuan, a small city in Henan province, we demonstrate a method for local public agencies to facilitate administrative tracking of monetized air pollution based on underlying economic activity, and outline a minimum set of metrics which a small city in China must track in order to estimate the monetized damage of air pollution by sector.

Publication: Development of a Parsimonious Set of City-level Environmental Performance Metrics for Jiyuan, Henan, China

Chinese Summary: 济源市环境审计系统研发

+ Pollution Reduction and Job Creation in China, Lessons from the U.S.

Economic growth is still the top priority in China, but to maintain sustainable growth, the emphasis has been shifted towards maintaining employment level while eliminating the devastating effects of environmental pollution. Therefore, in this study we examined the perceived tradeoffs between environmental regulation and employment, and the most effective policy measures for the creation of sustainability-related jobs in the U.S. This study also outlined the government policy responses, local or federal, which are seen to reduce pollution while not impeding economic growth, with examples of industries and companies that appear to have increased value added by reducing pollution impact. Lastly, the study uncovered the mechanisms through which such improvements were made; for example, outsourcing of dirtier processes to other countries or reengineering of materials handling processes, and how these efforts can apply to low labor cost countries such as China.