Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050) is an international and cross-disciplinary scholarly, open access journal of environmental, cultural, economic and social sustainability of human beings, which provides an advanced forum for studies related to sustainability and sustainable development. It publishes reviews, regular research papers, communications and short notes, and there is no restriction on the length of the papers.
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Library has: Vol. 1 (2009) to current

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  • Damage Indices and Photogrammetry for Decay Assessment of Stone-Built Cultural Heritage: The Case Study of the San Domenico Church Main Entrance Portal (South Calabria, Italy)

    Luciana Randazzo; Matteo Collina; Michela Ricca; Loris Barbieri; Fabio Bruno; Anna Arcudi; Mauro F. La Russa (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    In recent decades, increasing attention is being paid to the multidisciplinary approach that allows the performance of both a preventive conservation and a more invasive restoration action. In this context, the present study aims to acquire information and data from field surveys undertaken in San Domenico Church, Southern Calabria, in order to provide a tool for the recording and the inventory of damage and decay phenomena, and assess their causes and scale. The subsequent calculation of damage indices also provided useful information in order to allow the prioritization of conservation and preservation responses.
  • The Effects of the Big Five Personality Traits on Stress among Robot Programming Students

    Anita Pollak; Małgorzata Dobrowolska; Anna Timofiejczuk; Mateusz Paliga (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This paper presents relationships between personality traits and stress levels in light of the transactional model of stress. The framework of the transactional model was applied to determine the significance of work with a robot for primary and secondary stress appraisal made by an individual. We decided to use the Big Five personality traits model as one which integrates the dimensions of personality and had been previously applied to research on stress. The participants in our three-wave study were 105 students doing an industrial robots programming course. Using Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI) and Questionnaire for Primary and Secondary Appraisal (PASA) questionnaires, we gathered information about the students’ personality, the level of anticipated stress, and the stress experienced while working with a robot after 6 and 12 weeks. The obtained results prove that emotional stability is significant for secondary appraisal of anticipated stress. The results also show that openness to experience is a negative predictor, whereas conscientiousness is a positive predictor of primary stress appraisal. The ability to cope with stress after 12 weeks of work with a robot is appraised as higher by older, more conscientious, and introverted people. The obtained results are discussed from the psychological perspective of stress and personality, which complements earlier studies in technical sciences. The limitations of the study are also indicated.
  • Adoption of Automatic Warehousing Systems in Logistics Firms: A Technology–Organization–Environment Framework

    Jingjing Hao; Haoming Shi; Victor Shi; Chenchen Yang (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The adoption of automatic warehousing systems, a type of green technology, has been an emerging trend in the logistics industry. In this study, we develop a conceptual model using a technology–organization–environment framework to investigate the factors which influence logistics firms to adopt green technology. Our model proposes that the adoption of green technology is influenced by perceived advantage, cost, technological turbulence, business partner influence, firm size, firm scope and operational performance. The objective of this study is to identify the conditions, as well as the contributing factors, for the adoption of automatic warehousing systems in logistics firms. Data were collected from 98 firms in China, and structural equation modeling with partial least squares is adopted to analyze the data. The results suggest that high perceived relative advantage, firm size, cost, firm scope, operation performance, technological turbulence and influence of business partners are important factors affecting IT adoption in small businesses. Therefore, decision support should be provided for enterprises from the three aspects of technology, organization and environment to improve the adoption of automatic warehousing systems.
  • Secular Trends in the Achievement of Physical Activity Guidelines: Indicator of Sustainability of Healthy Lifestyle in Czech Adolescents

    Josef Mitáš; Karel Frömel; Petr Valach; Aleš Suchomel; Michal Vorlíček; Dorota Groffik (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    (1) Background: The increasing socio-economic and educational demands on adolescents should be reflected in their lifestyles accordingly. The aim of the study was therefore to identify the trends in the achievement of physical activity (PA) guidelines by Czech adolescents through objective and subjective PA monitoring. (2) Methods: The research was carried out between 2010 and 2017 and involved 49 secondary schools, 2 higher vocational schools, and 8 universities in the Czech Republic. In total, the projects involved 1129 girls and 779 boys. PA monitoring was performed by Yamax SW-700 pedometers and IPAQ-long questionnaires. (3) Results: The results according to the average number of steps/day confirm a decrease in the amount of PA in boys and girls and in the achievement of the recommended 11,000 steps/day. However, the estimates of meeting the recommended weekly PA expressed as MET-min/week based on the IPAQ-long questionnaire are not so convincing about the decrease. (4) Conclusions: The combination of objective monitoring of weekly PA using wearables and subjective estimates of weekly PA using a questionnaire regarding the ease of application, appears to be a sufficient indicator of the status of and trend in PA and thus the sustainability of a healthy lifestyle in youths.
  • The Role of Standards-Related Capacity Building on the Sustainable Development of Developing Countries: Focusing on the Korea’s Standards-Related AfT Case in Bolivia

    Seungyeon Moon; Heesang Lee (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Many countries provide standards-related aid for trade (AfT) to developing countries in association with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as sharing their experiences and providing training or infrastructure. Regarding the influence of standards-related AfT on the sustainable development of developing countries, we studied Korea’s standards-related AfT program to examine the role and features of standardsrelated AfT in terms of standardsrelated capacity building. In this study, we conducted a single case study with a focus on Korea’s standards-related AfT in Bolivia using qualitative descriptive analysis. The result indicated that Korea’s standards-related AfT is associated with three pillars of sustainable development in terms of standardsrelated capacity, namely standardization, conformity assessment, and metrology, and can be summarized with two key tasks: building testing infrastructure and improving Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) capacity. However, several limitations were found in Korea’s standardsrelated capacity building activities, such as limited scope, limited target of the program, and the lack of activities for building institutional foundations for standardsrelated capacity.
  • Experiments with Self-Organised Simulation of Movement of Infectious Aerosols in Buildings

    Ljubomir Jankovic (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The ultimate aim of sustainability in buildings gained an additional new dimension as the start of the year 2020 saw a rapid worldwide spread of the infectious disease caused by a coronavirus named COVID-19. There is evidence that, in addition to person to person contact, the disease transmission occurs through airborne droplets/aerosols generated by breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing. For that reason, building heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems can play an important role, as they may both contribute as well as reduce the transmission risk. However, there is insufficient understanding of the movement of infectious aerosols in buildings. This article introduces a method of bottom-up emergent modelling of the movement of infectious aerosols in internal space using a physics engine, and reports on simple simulation experiments. The results show that the smallest droplets that are large enough to contain the virus can be suspended in the air for an extended period of time; that turbulent air flow can contribute to the infectious aerosols remaining in the room; and that unidirectional air flow can contribute to purging the room of the infectious aerosols. The model introduced in this article is a starting point for further development and for increasing our understanding of the movement of infectious aerosols in buildings, and thus for increased sustainability of building design.
  • The Experimental Study of the Utilization of Recycling Aggregate from the Demolition of Elements of a Reinforced Concrete Hall

    Katarzyna Kalinowska-Wichrowska; David Suescum-Morales (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The article shows a case study as to whether the thermal and mechanical recycling of concrete is suitable for concrete debris from the demolition of structural elements of a 30-year-old industrial hall. The experiment included 10 series of new composites made from heated recycled concrete aggregate (HRCA) subjected to different variants of heat treatment and one additional control series with only natural aggregate (NA). The compressive strength of the new concretes has been determined. The microscopic observations of HRCA have also been made. The test results revealed that proper heat treatment of concrete rubble makes it possible to obtain a high-quality recycled coarse aggregate, which can be used as a 100% replacement for natural coarse aggregates in new concretes.
  • Going Vegan: The Role(s) of ICT in Vegan Practice Transformation

    Dennis Lawo; Margarita Esau; Philip Engelbutzeder; Gunnar Stevens (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    With the debate on climate change, topics of diet change and the reduction of animal products have become increasingly important in both public and academic discourses. However, sustainable ICT studies have so far focused on individual aspects, in particular investigating the criticized persuasive design approach. We argue for a broader perspective on the role(s) of ICT, one that helps in identifying opportunities to support consumer practice transformation, beyond motivational aspects. Based on retrospective interviews with 16 vegans, we argue to understand practice transformation as co-evolution of practices and ICT artefacts, as this perspective helps to understand how tensions arising from complex entanglements of practices, socio-material contexts, and communities can be resolved. Rather than a motivational process, we observe various roles of ICT artefacts co-evolving with practices: Ranging from initial irritation, to access to information about vegan practices, to the learning of vegan food literacy, to the negotiation of a vegan identity, and vegan norms at the intersection of the ‘odd’ and the ‘norm’.
  • The Influence of R&D Intensity on Financial Performance: The Mediating Role of Human Capital in the Semiconductor Industry in Taiwan

    Tsung-chun Chen; Yenchun Jim Wu (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Knowledge transfer is a strategy used by high-tech companies to acquire new knowledge and skills. Knowledge can be internally generated or externally sourced. The access to external knowledge is a quick fix, but the risks associated with reliance on external sources are often overlooked. However, not acquiring such knowledge is even riskier. There have been a slew of litigations in the semiconductor industry in recent years. The acquisition and assurance of intangible assets is an important issue. This paper posits that internal R&D should take into consideration the knowledge intensity and capital investment in the industry. This study focuses on the relationship between intangible assets and financial performance. It sourced the 2004 to 2016 financial data of semiconductor companies in Taiwan for panel data modeling and examined case studies for empirical validation. This study found that the higher the R&D intensity (RDI) in the value-added component of human capital, the better the financial performance of the company. RDI has a positive influence on the accumulation of human capital and financial performance metrics, and such influence is deferred. Meanwhile, human capital is a mediating factor in the relationship between RDI and financial performance. RDI is integral to the semiconductor industry’s pursuit of business sustainability.
  • Sustainable European Transport System in a 100% Renewable Economy

    Antonio García-Olivares; Jordi Solé; Roger Samsó; Joaquim Ballabrera-Poy (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Europe must move towards a 100% renewable transportation system for climate, energy and sustainability reasons. We estimate the capital and energy required for building and operating a renewable transportation system providing similar services as the EU-28 transport system of 2016. It could be based on: biogas or fuel cell vessels; liquid biogas powered aircrafts; electric railways and fuel cell or electric vehicles between major cities; and car sharing, electric buses and electric two- and three-wheelers, for short journeys. A system of charging posts on the streets and roads for passenger and commercial e-vehicles is studied. Alternatively, a Tracked Electric Vehicle system of continuous power on European roads would improve energy efficiency and the saving of scarce metals (Ni, Li), at a lower cost, if only national roads were electrified. The investment for the construction of the whole system would be 2.3–2.7% of the EU’s GDP per year for 30 years. The new system operation would require 16% less energy than that of 2016, with reduction of 70% in road transport. However, shipping and aviation would demand 162% and 149% more energy, respectively, if liquefied biogas were used as fuel. A type of land transport fully based on trains would provide a similar service to that of an electric vehicle fleet, with a 29% lower energy consumption.
  • Vibration-Based Seismic Damage States Evaluation for Regional Concrete Beam Bridges Using Random Forest Method

    Xiaoming Lei; Limin Sun; Ye Xia; Tiantao He (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Transportation networks play an important role in urban areas, and bridges are the most vulnerable structures to earthquakes. The seismic damage evaluation of bridges provides an effective tool to assess the potential damage, and guides the post-earthquake recovery operations. With the help of structural health monitoring (SHM) techniques, the structural condition could be accurately evaluated through continuous monitoring of structural responses, and evaluating vibration-based features, which could reflect the deterioration of materials and boundary conditions, and are extensively used to reflect the structural conditions. This study proposes a vibration-based seismic damage state evaluation method for regional bridges. The proposed method contains the measured structural dynamic parameters and bridge configuration parameters. In addition, several intensity measures are also included in the model, to represent the different characteristics and the regional diversity of ground motions. The prediction models are trained with a random forest algorithm, and their confusion matrices and receiver operation curves reveal a good prediction performance, with over 90% accuracy. The significant parameter identification of bridge systems and components reveals the critical parameters for seismic design, disaster prevention and structure retrofit.
  • An Analysis of the Economic Effects of Cover Crop Use on Farm Net Returns per Acre in Central Indiana

    Megan N. Hughes; Michael R. Langemeier (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Utilizing cover crop treatments can have significant agronomic benefits for a farm enterprise. However, implementing this technology introduces additional costs. Data were obtained from a Central Indiana case farm to evaluate the relationship between applied nitrogen and corn yield, and how this relationship is impacted by introducing three different species of cover crops: annual ryegrass, cereal rye, and an oats and radish blend. The resulting information was then translated into a partial budget so that the effects on net returns could be analyzed using historical prices and stochastic modelling. The results showed that the impact on net returns per acre varied among cover crop species. The implementation of annual ryegrass resulted in a negative change to net returns. Conversely, implementing cereal rye or an oats and radish blend resulted in a positive change to net returns, with the largest net benefits accruing to the oats and radish blend.
  • Digital Transformation for Business Model Innovation in Higher Education: Overcoming the Tensions

    Albert Rof; Andrea Bikfalvi; Pilar Marques (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The higher education sector is in the eye of the hurricane of the digital revolution, immersed as it is in an ongoing digital transformation (DT) process that is expected to result in significant changes in the current business model. Despite the relevance of this transformation, little remains known about how the business model is innovated (BMI), due to the impact of digital transformation in the context of higher education institutions (HEI). This research explores the impact of DT on the HEI business model, through analyzing the case of a traditional university, conceived non-digitally. The results present the HEI understanding of DT, the main tensions arising from the DT process for each of the business model dimensions, and the anticipated solutions for solving these tensions. Additionally, the results uncover the existence of an emergent (non-formalized) envisioned business model, which is a visualization of how the current business model is expected to be innovated, due to the impact of DT. The main originality of this paper is in addressing a research gap at the intersection of DT and BMI in the HEI context.
  • Sustainability and Its Place in the Self-Determination of Information-Based Companies

    Michał Baran (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    The term sustainability is understood in many different ways. Its interpretation determines the behaviors of those who want to include the idea into their actions. The question, therefore, arises about how individual entities understand the term sustainability and how they express their vision in this regard. This issue is largely qualitative and requires the use of qualitative data analysis tools. In this context, information-based companies are a special case because they are free of burdens that affect enterprises with roots in the traditional economy. Attitudes towards the idea of sustainability in this group of enterprises are of the most voluntary nature. In the present discussion, the thesis was adopted that the context in which the entity refers to the idea of sustainability reveals the dimensions within the framework of which the entity determines its attitude to this idea. In the present discussion, the subjects of interest were exclusively the semantic categories of the context and not the typology of organizations using such semantic categories. A qualitative analysis (carried out on the basis of linguistic analysis) of the annual reports — a purposive sample of 20 selected enterprises and sector leaders whose activities are based on data processing — submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission has allowed us to identify four dimensions of self-determination in the context of sustainability (the detection of these dimensions was the main purpose of the conducted analysis). Due to the method used, which involved examining the linguistic significance of individual words and in accordance with scientific rules, the requirement of representativeness did not apply to the collected data. However, the data had to show the various concepts currently used (even if only once) by sector leaders in their public discourse. The detected dimensions are divided into two groups: internal, where two types specified as BASE and ROLE are listed, and external, with two successive types hidden under the names IDEA and CARE.
  • Agricultural Productivity Growth and Its Determinants in South and Southeast Asian Countries

    Jianxu Liu; Mengjiao Wang; Li Yang; Sanzidur Rahman; Songsak Sriboonchitta (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Improving agricultural productivity is a priority concern in promoting the sustainable development of agriculture in developing countries. In this study, we first apply stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) to analyze the growth of agricultural total factor productivity (TFP) and its three components (technical change—TC, technical efficiency change—TEC and scale change—SC) in 15 south and southeast Asian countries covering the period 2002 to 2016. Then, the determinants of agricultural TFP growth are identified using dynamic panel data models. The results reveal that the south and southeast Asian countries witnessed an overall decline in agricultural productivity during the sample period, thereby creating concerns over sustaining future agricultural growth. Technical progress was the major source of TFP growth, but its contribution has slowed in recent years. On the other hand, declining scale change and technical efficiency change resulted in the deterioration of productivity over time. Variable levels of productivity performances were observed for individual countries, mainly driven by technological progress. Overall, southeast Asia achieved a more stable and sustained agricultural growth as compared to south Asia. Among the determinants, human capital, level of urbanization, and development flow to agriculture positively influenced agricultural TFP growth, while the level of economic development and agricultural import were negatively associated with TFP growth. Policy recommendations include the suggestions that south and southeast Asian countries should increase investment in human capital, focus on technological innovation and make use of financial assistance and development flow to agriculture to increase and sustain agricultural productivity. In addition, frontier countries of the two regions (e.g., India and Indonesia) should take the lead on regional agricultural development ventures by enhancing cooperation with neighboring countries on technological innovations, and countries facing diseconomies of scale (i.e., Afghanistan and Iran) should consider the rational reallocation of agricultural inputs.
  • Pricing Decisions on Online Channel Entry for Complementary Products in a Dominant Retailer Supply Chain

    Gu Qiongqiong; Yang Xiaodong; Liu Bin (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    This study considered the supply chain that two manufacturers sell green complementary products to a dominant offline retailer. We investigated whether a manufacturer (the integrated manufacturer) should add an online channel and examined how it affects channel members’ decisions and profits. We formulated the power structure as the retailer-Stackelberg model and analyzed the pricing decisions for the supply chain. The results demonstrate that the integrated manufacturer prefers not to add the online channel when online and offline market bases are comparable and the level of complementarity is moderate. The integrated manufacturer gains more power at the expense of the offline retailer and the other manufacturer (the traditional manufacturer) when the complementarity between the offline and online channel is the same as offline channels with the addition of a new online channel; furthermore, the retailer earns less, while the traditional manufacturer’s profit hinges on the complementarity between the online and offline channels. It is beneficial for the offline retailer to balance the online and offline market bases of product 1 by improving the sales environment of the physical store. The integrated manufacturer can benefit from varying their marketing actions to decrease the degree of complementarity between the retail and online channels for the two products, while the traditional manufacturer can be better off from the online channel introduction by taking steps to increase the complementarity of the two products between the offline channels.
  • Managing a Sustainable and Resilient Perishable Food Supply Chain (PFSC) after an Outbreak

    Quan Zhu; Harold Krikke (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    It is a challenging task to manage a perishable food supply chain (PFSC), due to the product’s short lifetime and to demand uncertainty. Even worse is the fact that, because of the multitude of participating stakeholders in production, distribution, and retailing, the PFSC becomes complex and thus particularly vulnerable to crises. Product shortages that result from an outbreak like COVID-19 often cause customers to seek alternative sources of supply, possibly with a larger purchasing amount (i.e. hoarding), leading to even severer demand uncertainty after the shortage period. To manage a sustainable and resilient PFSC after an outbreak, supply chain partners need to share and use the right information to facilitate decision making. A system dynamics simulation was thus applied to study a cheese supply chain with three tiers. Three scenarios that cause product shortages were simulated. Seven balanced feedback loops and two reinforced feedback loops were identified from the simulation model. Through the feedback loop dominance analysis, we identified four dominant loops that facilitate the generation of endogenous demand. In order to alleviate the negative influence of endogenous demand, it is suggested that the information sharing that causes endogenous demand be stopped and a loosely coupled strategy to support decision making utilized.
  • Whom Do Urban Agriculture Parks Provide Landscape Services to and How? A Case Study of Beijing, China

    Miaomiao Xie; Manyu Li; Zhaoyang Li; Meng Xu; Yan Chen; Ran Wo; De Tong (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    An urban agriculture park (UAP) is a mixture of various kinds of urban agriculture and has a group of administrators to plan and manage its landscapes. Thus, the relationships between users and the ability of the UAPs to provide services are crucial. This study investigated the user profiles of three kinds of UAPs in Beijing, China. Investigation of 345 interviewees suggested that most of the users have an upper-middle level income and are well educated. Social connections vary across different types of UAPs. An assessment matrix of landscape services was introduced for a pioneer of UAP, Little Donkey Farm, based on questionnaires, a field survey, and indicators of landscape patterns. Pearson correlations between service demands and users’ characters showed age, companions, and education level were significantly correlated to the needs of scenery and education services. The landscape with the highest supply value was the vegetable plots planted by members. The scenery service was not adequately supplied, and 31.5% of the areas did not meet the demand. Based on the budgets of supply and demand, six types of landscape should be optimized. This study provides an approach to understand the path of landscape service provision in UAP and supports basic knowledge on how to better involve urban agriculture in sustainable development.
  • Integration of IoT and Blockchain to in the Processes of a University Campus

    William Villegas-Ch; Xavier Palacios-Pacheco; Milton Román-Cañizares (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Currently, universities, as centers of research and innovation, integrate in their processes various technologies that allow improving services and processes for their members. Among the innovative technologies are the Internet of Things that, through a variety of devices, allows obtaining data from the environment and people. This information is processed in cloud computing models and Big Data architectures that obtain knowledge through data analysis. These results lead to improving processes and making better decisions that improve the services available at the university. The integration of technologies allows for the generation of a sustainable environment that seeks the cohesion of the population with the environment, in such a way that economic growth is guaranteed in balance with the environment. However, all technology needs to guarantee the security of processes and data, and for this purpose, a new technology such as blockchain is integrated, which seeks to respond to two needs, the security and agility of processes. Integrating this technology in a university requires the analysis of the blockchain components to generate a new layer that adapts to the architecture of a university campus. This ensures that the data are kept cryptographically private to avoid exposure and that the entire process is verified by multiple blocks.
  • How to Improve the Diffusion of Climate-Smart Agriculture: What the Literature Tells Us

    Giulio Fusco; Marta Melgiovanni; Donatella Porrini; Traci Michelle Ricciardo (MDPI AG, 2020-06-01)
    Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is a technologically innovative response to the challenges faced by agriculture due to climate change. Its implementation needs a change of mentality in the direction of an approach that takes into account how the increase in technologically induced productivity affects climate change. In the belief that the in-depth analysis conducted by scientific research plays a fundamental role, we explore the characteristics, actors, and pillars of CSA, examining both the scientific literature and financed projects. Specifically, through a systematic review of the literature we address both the application and barriers to implementation at a global level, and then we focus on a case study of the geographical distribution of CSA projects in Europe. Our results show a heterogeneous framework in which we can note discrepancies among countries. Finally, as conclusive remarks, we consider the type of policies that could be implemented to improve the diffusion of CSA in the near future.

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