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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  • Time-Dependent Strength Behavior, Expansion, Microstructural Properties, and Environmental Impact of Basic Oxygen Furnace Slag-Treated Marine-Dredged Clay in South Korea

    Gyeong-o Kang; Jung-goo Kang; Jin-young Kim; Young-sang Kim (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanical characteristics, microstructural properties, and environmental impact of basic oxygen furnace (BOF) slag-treated clay in South Korea. Mechanical characteristics were determined via the expansion, vane shear, and unconfined compression tests according to various curing times. Scanning electron microscopy was conducted to analyze microstructural properties. Furthermore, environmental impacts were evaluated by the leaching test and pH measurements. According to the results, at the early curing stage (within 15 h), the free lime (F-CaO) content of the BOF slag is a significant factor for developing the strength of the adopted sample. However, the particle size of the BOF slag influences the increase in the strength at subsequent curing times. It was inferred that the strength behavior of the sample exhibits three phases depending on various incremental strength ratios. The expansion magnitude of the adopted samples is influenced by the F-CaO content and also the particle size of the BOF slag. Regarding the microstructural properties, the presence of reticulation structures in the amorphous gels with intergrowths of rod-like ettringite formation was verified inside the sample. Finally, the pH values and heavy metal leachates of the samples were determined within the compatible ranges of the threshold effect levels in the marine sediments of the marine environment standard of the Republic of Korea.
  • Phytoextraction of Lead Using a Hedge Plant [<i>Alternanthera bettzickiana</i> (Regel) G. Nicholson]: Physiological and Biochemical Alterations through Bioresource Management

    Urooj Kanwal; Muhammad Ibrahim; Farhat Abbas; Muhammad Yamin; Fariha Jabeen; Anam Shahzadi; Aitazaz A. Farooque; Muhammad Imtiaz; Allah Ditta; Shafaqat Ali (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Phytoremediation is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach that can be used for the remediation of metals in polluted soil. This study used a hedge plant–calico (<i>Alternanthera bettzickiana</i> (Regel) G. Nicholson) to determine the role of citric acid in lead (Pb) phytoremediation by exposing it to different concentrations of Pb (0, 200, 500, and 1000 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>) as well as in a combination with citric acid concentration (0, 250, 500 µM). The analysis of variance was applied on results for significant effects of the independent variables on the dependent variables using SPSS (ver10). According to the results, maximum Pb concentration was measured in the upper parts of the plant. An increase in dry weight biomass, plant growth parameters, and photosynthetic contents was observed with the increase of Pb application (200 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>) in soil while a reduced growth was experienced at higher Pb concentration (1000 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>). The antioxidant enzymatic activities like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and peroxidase (POD) were enhanced under lower Pb concentration (200, 500 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>), whereas the reduction occurred at greater metal concentration Pb (1000 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>). There was a usual reduction in electrolyte leakage (EL) at lower Pb concentration (200, 500 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>), whereas EL increased at maximum Pb concentration (1000 mg kg<sup>−1</sup>). We concluded that this hedge plant, <i>A. Bettzickiana</i>, has the greater ability to remediate polluted soils aided with citric acid application.
  • Estidama and the Pearl Rating System: A Comprehensive Review and Alignment with LCA

    Ayyagari Ramani; Borja García de Soto (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Multiple sustainability standards and rating systems have been developed to draw attention to constructing sustainable buildings. The Pearl Rating System (PRS) is a mandate for all new construction projects in Abu Dhabi. Hence, it is important to understand the main components, advantages, and limitations of the PRS. The feasibility and the practical relevance of the PRS are still being studied. This paper addresses this gap and critically evaluates the PRS against some of the well-established rating systems like LEED and BREEAM. The analysis suggests that the PRS considers the cultural aspect of sustainability, in addition to the environmental, societal, and economic aspects. It was also found that most rating systems, including the PRS, have a very superficial inclusion of life cycle assessment (LCA). The paper finally concludes with other observations and outlook for a more robust implementation of the PRS.
  • Intelligence and Green Total Factor Productivity Based on China’s Province-Level Manufacturing Data

    Yining Zhang; Zhong Wu (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The application of intelligent technology has an important impact on the green total factor productivity of China’s manufacturing industry. Based on the provincial panel data of China’s manufacturing industry from 2008 to 2017, this article uses the Malmquist–Luenburger (ML) model to measure the green total factor productivity of China’s manufacturing industry, and further constructs an empirical model to analyze the impact mechanism of intelligence on green total factor productivity. The results show that intelligence can increase the green total factor productivity of the manufacturing industry. At the same time, mechanism analysis shows that intelligence can affect manufacturing green total factor productivity by improving technical efficiency. However, the effect of intelligence on the technological progress of the manufacturing industry is not significant. In addition, the impact of intelligence has regional heterogeneity. It has significantly promoted the green total factor productivity in the eastern and central regions of China, while its role in the western region is not obvious. The research in this article confirms that intelligence has a significant positive impact on the green total factor productivity of the manufacturing industry, and can provide suggestion for the current further promotion of the deep integration of intelligence and the green development of the manufacturing industry to achieve the strategic goal of industrial upgrading.
  • The Relations Between Teaching Strategies, Students’ Engagement in Learning, and Teachers’ Self-Concept

    Feifei Han (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Good teaching strategies may not only engage students in learning but may also promote teachers’ self-concept about teaching. The present study empirically investigated the contributions of four popular teaching strategies, namely, feedback, scaffolding, active learning, and collaborating, to students’ engagement in learning and teachers’ self-concept in teaching. The study adopted a quantitative design, which surveyed 208 Australian primary school teachers by using a five-point Likert-scale questionnaire. The structure of the questionnaire was first explored by an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and then through a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in order to provide an account for validity. The results of correlations showed that all the four teaching strategies were positively associated with both students’ engagement and teachers’ self-concept. The results of the structural equation modelling found that the strength of these relations varied. While feedback, scaffolding, and active learning strategies all positively contributed to teachers’ self-concept, collaborating neither significantly predicted students’ engagement nor teachers’ self-concept. Only scaffolding had a positive path to students’ engagement, implying that scaffolding may be the best strategy among the four teaching strategies to engage primary students. The study suggested to teachers that they need to consider the age of learners when implementing teaching strategies.
  • Nature-Based Solutions and Sustainable Urban Planning in the European Environmental Policy Framework: Analysis of the State of the Art and Recommendations for Future Development

    Claudia de Luca; Sandra Naumann; McKenna Davis; Simona Tondelli (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Sustainable urban planning (SUP) is crucial in the development of sustainable cities, as also underlined by the New Urban Agenda. Nature-based solutions (NBS) are increasingly being recognized for their potential to offer multiple benefits that are necessary in order to cope with present and future urban challenges. The European policy framework, including the recently released European Green Deal, could strongly boost the role and recognition of NBS and SUP as drivers of sustainable and inclusive urban transition. Through a content analysis of current environmental European policies, strategies and agreements, this paper provides (i) an overview of the state of the art of the environmental European policy framework and the recognized role of NBS and SUP in reaching defined objectives, and (ii) insights on where NBS and SUP could play a larger role within this framework. On this basis, the paper identifies gaps and develops recommendations for a better integration of such concepts into the current framework.
  • The Valuation of Aesthetic Preferences and Consequences for Urban Transport Infrastructures

    Christos Evangelinos; Stefan Tscharaktschiew (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The importance of transport infrastructure for individual well-being and regional economic development and growth, but also its adverse side-effects, make a comprehensive assessment of the general appropriateness of new construction and rebuild indispensable. Assessments, however, often lack certain issues. For instance, aesthetic aspects are usually not part of the (economic) evaluation of large infrastructure projects, albeit individuals may be (positively or negatively) affected by the aesthetic ‘value’ of infrastructures. This paper proposes the aesthetic index developed by Birkhoff as a method to quantify the aesthetic impact of buildings/facilities in urban areas. To test the basic applicability of the index for transport infrastructure facilities, we apply it at first to airport terminals in Germany. We also test the suitability of the index to derive the willingness to pay for aesthetic exterior design—since market prices are easy to obtain with respect to hotel room rates—using hotel architecture as the first example. Regression results of a hedonic price model indicate a significant relationship, suggesting the basic suitability of the index to uncover consumers’ willingness to pay for an aesthetic outward appearance. We suggest further research to test the suitability of Birkhoff’s index for general urban transport infrastructures in order to derive utility-based welfare measures toward aesthetic issues. For highly controversial urban (overground) infrastructures, we propose the inclusion of an aesthetic component in cost–benefit analysis.
  • The Impact of the Industry 4.0 Concept on Slovak Business Sustainability within the Issue of the Pandemic Outbreak

    Adriana Grenčíková; Marcel Kordoš; Jozef Bartek; Vladislav Berkovič (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Many studies have found that the most significant job structure changes in the Slovak business environment can be expected in production and logistics. The biggest manpower shortages are in the fields of mechanical engineering, production, construction, information sciences and communication technologies, and medical sciences. The smallest manpower shortage can be found in the humanities and social science areas. The main objective of this research was to assess the trends within the Slovak labor market from the perspective of the companies that participated in a survey focused on their assumptions on job structure changes in the context of the implementation of the elements of Industry 4.0. The estimation was based on a questionnaire conducted during the spring months of 2020 with the participation of 175 companies and institutions. The results showed that one third of companies anticipate job cuts in the implementation of smart industry. Along with the job position disposal and the qualified staffs’ need for new jobs, the demands of employers regarding the level of education are growing. On the other hand, three quarters of companies are not only willing but also ready to participate in human resource vocational training and requalification focused mainly on technical skills.
  • Scale Change and Correlation of Plant Functional Characteristics in the Desert Community of Ebinur Lake

    Hanpeng Li; Guanghui Lv; Lamei Jiang; Jinlong Wang (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The difference of functional traits among different species is the basis of species coexistence in natural ecosystems, and the variation of traits among individuals within species also plays an important role in species coexistence and distribution. Taking the desert plant community of Ebinur Lake as the research object, five plant functional characteristics were measured in 13 plants of 25 quadrats in the study area. The changes of these five functional characteristics by the method of character gradient analysis and the scale variation of plant functional traits and the correlation between their environments were studied. The results showed that: (1) the range of α value of the five plant functional characteristics in the community was larger than that of β value; that is, the change of the character value of a species relative to related symbiotic species was larger than that along the average character gradient of the community. (2) The correlations between leaf thickness and leaf area as well as between leaf thickness and leaf dry matter content were the strongest with correlation coefficients. That is, the correlations between LTH and SLA as well as between LTH and LDMC were stronger than that between the two species in the community, suggesting that the development of succession had no significant effect. The strategies used by dominant species to adapt to the environment changed from high-speed growth to improving resource utilization efficiency, while the coexisting species in the same community adopted different character combinations to adapt to the common community environment.
  • Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Influence on Oyster Mushrooms (<i>Pleurotus ostreatus</i>) from Substrate Supplementation of Calcium Silicate

    Rossana V. C. Cardoso; Márcio Carocho; Ângela Fernandes; José Pinela; Dejan Stojković; Marina Soković; Diego Cunha Zied; Juan Diego Valenzuela Cobos; Ana M. González-Paramás; Isabel C. F. R. Ferreira (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Supplementation of the substrate of mushrooms with calcium silicate and other minerals is usually used as a preventive measure against pests and other contaminants during the production of oyster mushrooms. Little is known of the effects of this supplementation on the quality of the mushrooms produced. In the work described herein, the supplementation of oyster mushrooms was performed with 5 supplementation levels (0%, 0.5%, 1%, 2% and 4%) on mushrooms from two different locations in Brazil, the two flushes of mushrooms produced were analysed in terms of phenolic compounds, organic acids, and the antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and finally the data was subjected to a linear discriminant analysis to understand the discrimination of the supplementation percentages. Overall, intermediate supplementation until 1% seemed to have a positive effect on the mushrooms from Mogi-das-Cruzes region, while high supplementation favoured the mushrooms from the region of Presidente Prudente. Supplementation showed positive effects on the mushrooms by increasing the production of some secondary metabolites while not showing any negative cytotoxic effects.
  • Shades between Black and Green Investment: Balance or Imbalance?

     Vítor Manuel de Sousa Gabriel; María Mar Miralles-Quirós; José Luis Miralles-Quirós (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This paper analyses the links established between environmental indices and the oil price adopting a double perspective, long-term and short-term relationships. For that purpose, we employ the Bounds Test and bivariate conditional heteroscedasticity models. In the long run, the pattern of behaviour of environmental indices clearly differed from that of the oil prices, and it was not possible to identify cointegrating vectors. In the short-term, it was possible to conclude that, in contemporaneous terms, the variables studied tended to follow similar paths. When the lag of the oil price variable was considered, the impacts produced on the stock market sectors were partially of a negative nature, which allows us to suppose that this variable plays the role of a risk factor for environmental investment.
  • Analysis of the Visual Perception of the Competences of Project Managers

    Rocio Poveda-Bautista; Jose-Antonio Diego-Mas; Jorge Alcaide-Marzal (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Based on the appearance of their faces, we attribute to people personality traits, moods, capacities, or competences. This unconscious process plays a central role in our everyday decisions and how we choose partners or our favorite candidate. This work is the first approach to the analysis of the influence of appearance-driven judgments of faces in the project management field. The main objective of this study was to obtain an approximate image of the general mental prototype of the face of a project manager using noise-based reverse correlation. The obtained image shows the features of the faces that drive the perception of a good project manager. The face shows very high average scores for all the competences recognized in the IPMA Individual Competence Baseline when assessed by a sample of project management practitioners. From these results, it can be stated that people have clearly defined prototypes of facial features that convey the perception of being a competent project manager, and this finding may have implications in the project management field.
  • Identifying the Daily Activity Spaces of Older Adults Living in a High-Density Urban Area: A Study Using the Smartphone-Based Global Positioning System Trajectory in Shanghai

    Jiatian Bu; Jie Yin; Yifan Yu; Ye Zhan (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The characteristics of the built environment and the configuration of public facilities can affect the health and well-being of older adults. Recognizing the range of daily activities and understanding the utilization of public facilities among older adults has become essential in planning age-friendly communities. However, traditional methods are unable to provide large-scale objective measures of older adults’ travel behaviors. To address this issue, we used the smartphone-based global positioning system (GPS) trajectory to explore the activity spaces of 76 older adults in a high-density urban community in Shanghai for 102 consecutive days. We found that activity spaces are centered around older adults’ living communities, with 46.3% within a 1.5 km distance. The older adults’ daily activities are within a 15 min walking distance, and accessibility is the most important factor when making a travel choice to parks and public facilities. We also found that the travel range and spatial distribution of points of interest are different between age and gender groups. In addition, we found that using a concave hull with Alpha shape algorithm is more applicable and robust than the traditional convex hull algorithm. This is a unique case study in a high-density urban area with objective measures for assessing the activity spaces of older adults, thus providing empirical evidence for promoting healthy aging in cities.
  • Shipping Bunker Cost Risk Assessment and Management during the Coronavirus Oil Shock

    Tzeu-Chen Han; Chih-Min Wang (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This research explores ways to develop a risk management strategy that enables shipping companies to reduce unnecessary fuel cost risks, fuel price fluctuations and improve financial management. Through the Monte Carlo method, the study makes use of the simulation of the conditional value-at-risk (CVaR) model. First, the VaR of various shipping-fuel-cost combination over a ten-year period is simulated. Then, through the most appropriate probability distribution test, it is found that most of the VaR of shipping fuel cost combination are in Beta–Arcsine distribution. In other words, the high-frequency data are concentrated at both tails (minimum and maximum) with high volatility. Therefore, the best strategy is to install scrubbers on existing ships to purify their exhaust gas and choose natural gas-based marine fuel for new ships. This will benefit the shipping companies significantly more compared to the use of low-sulfur fuel and choosing forward bunker agreements. Bunker swaps and options of bunker prices to hedging the risk of bunker cost raised in the end of Coronavirus oil shock, the strategy could help achieve the goal of risk management in the sustainable supply chain.
  • Introducing and Evaluating the Effective Inclusion of Gender Dimension in STEM Higher Education

    Marta Peña; Noelia Olmedo-Torre; Elisabet Mas de les Valls; Amaia Lusa (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The need to incorporate the gender dimension in higher education is a central element of gender equality policies within the European Union (EU). When most institutions of higher education have already strengthened and consolidated their curricula, the next challenge is to include and ensure that all people have the same opportunities to progress in education. This study intends to incorporate the gender dimension in teaching through a guide providing recommendations for the introduction of changes that will allow its effective incorporation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas. It will take into account the administration in charge of formulating policies in the field of education, the students, and, mainly, the teaching staff. Its objective is to cover aspects related to the principles of equal opportunities and gender equality in STEM higher education disciplines. For this purpose, 41 volunteer teachers from 8 degrees and master’s degrees from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain participated. To achieve the results of this study, aspects related to social and gender relevance of the subjects, inclusive methodology, classroom management and assessment were considered. As a preliminary step to the development of the guide of recommendations, a teacher’s self-assessment tool and a questionnaire for students to analyze the perception of the gender dimension were developed.
  • Interrelationships of Chemical, Physical and Biological Soil Health Indicators in Beef-Pastures of Southern Piedmont, Georgia

    Subash Dahal; Dorcas H. Franklin; Anish Subedi; Miguel L. Cabrera; Laura Ney; Brendan Fatzinger; Kishan Mahmud (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    The study of interrelationships among soil health indicators is important for (i) achieving better understanding of nutrient cycling, (ii) making soil health assessment cost-effective by eliminating redundant indicators, and (iii) improving nitrogen (N) fertilizer recommendation models. The objectives of this study were to (i) decipher complex interrelationships of selected chemical, physical, and biological soil health indicators in pastures with history of inorganic or broiler litter fertilization, and (ii) establish associations among inorganic N, potentially mineralizable N (PMN), and soil microbial biomass (SMBC), and other soil health indicators. In situ soil respiration was measured and soil samples were collected from six beef farms in 2017 and 2018 to measure selected soil health indicators. We were able to establish associations between easy-to-measure active carbon (POXC) vs. PMN (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.52), and N (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.43). POXC had a noteworthy quadratic relationship with N and nitrate, where we found dramatic increase of N and nitrate beyond an inflection point of 500 mg kg<sup>−1</sup> POXC. This point may serve as threshold for soil health assessment. The relationships of loss-on-ignition (LOI) carbon with other soil health indicators were discernable between inorganic- and broiler litter-fertilized pastures. We were able to establish association of SMBC with other soil variables (R<sup>2</sup> = 0.76) and there was detectable difference in SMBC between inorganic-fertilized and broiler litter-fertilized pastures. These results could be useful for cost-effective soil health assessment and optimization of N fertilizer recommendation models to improve N use efficiency and grazing system sustainability.
  • Charging Behavior Analysis of New Energy Vehicles

    Zhongfu Tan; Ye Yang; Pinxi Wang; Yilun Li (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    In recent years, new energy vehicles in Beijing have developed rapidly. This creates a huge demand for charging. It is a difficult problem to accurately identify the charging behavior of new energy vehicles and evaluate the use effect of social charging piles (CART piles) in Beijing. In response, this paper established the charging characteristics analysis model of new energy logistics vehicles based on the positioning data of new energy logistics vehicles. It also researched vehicle SOC and charging electricity and analyzed the utilization characteristics of charging facilities operation by using the operation data of charging facilities. Finally, this paper established the evaluation index system of regional charging facility layout to evaluate the construction level of charging facilities in each district.
  • Employment Diversification as a Determinant of Economic Resilience and Sustainability in Provincial Cities

    Marcin Bogdański (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    Differentiated response of selected economies to the global economic crisis caused by the collapse of the real estate market in the United States has drawn the attention of economists to the concept of economic resilience. At the same time, once again, it showed the importance of analysing and creating suitable conditions for sustainable development. Resilient economies are less exposed to the risk of economic crises or slowdowns, which is vital for ensuring stable incomes and high level of living standards. Therefore, the presented analysis was aimed at evaluating the level of economic resilience of provincial cities in Poland in relation to the situation on their labour markets. For this purposes, selected measures of the variation in the distribution feature (e.g., coefficient of variation) and the degree of structure diversification of the examined feature (Amemiya’s index) were used. Subsequently, using correlation analysis, the research determined whether any relationships could be observed between the investigated variables. The results of the research indicate that for provincial cities sub-regions in Poland, a statistically significant, moderate negative correlation could be observed between the degree of employment structure diversification in 2009 and the scale and scope of the collapse in the number of employed persons in subsequent years. This suggests that a high level of employment diversification restricted the level of economic resilience in this case.
  • The Commodity Life Cycle Costing Indicator. An Economic Measure of Natural Resource Use in the Life Cycle

    Giulio Mela; Maria Leonor Carvalho; Andrea Temporelli; Pierpaolo Girardi (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    This study defines a methodology for the development of an economic indicator of natural resource use to be applied in the framework of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to integrate the assessment of the environmental performances of products or processes during their life-cycle. The indicator developed-called Commodity Life Cycle Costing (or C-LCC)-is based on market prices, therefore incorporating information from both the demand and supply sides. Monte Carlo analysis is used to take price volatility into account. Alternative versions of the indicator, based on open-source data or calculated considering European Union’s critical raw materials only, are also developed. The study also provides a comparison between the C-LCC indicator and ReCiPe’s Mineral and Fossil Resource Depletion indicators and applies the proposed methodology to several types of batteries for stationary energy storage.
  • Homesickness and Socio-Cultural Adaptation towards Perceived Stress among International Students of a Public University in Sabah: An Exploration Study for Social Sustainability

    Balan A. L. Rathakrishnan; Soon Singh Bikar Singh; Mohammad Rahim Kamaluddin; Mohd Fahmi Ghazali; Azizi Yahaya; Noor Hassline Mohamed; Anath Rau Krishnan (MDPI AG, 2021-04-01)
    When adolescents go overseas to study, they have to face the challenge of adapting to local cultures, homesickness, and dealing with the stress. This study aimed to investigate the socio-cultural adaptation, homesickness, and perceived stress among international students in relation to social sustainability in a public university in Sabah, Malaysia. This research also related how international students manage both positive and negative impacts on their social life in university. The study included all international students in that university except Bruneian and Indonesian students. The sample group comprised 100 male and 100 female students. This study used four questionnaires: (i) Perceived Stress Scale, (ii) Homesickness Scale, (iii) Socio-cultural Adaptation Scale, and (iv) Revised Sociocultural Adaptation Scale. The results indicated that the socio-cultural adaptation and perceived stress levels were significantly correlated, r (198) = 0.354, <i>p</i> < 0.05. The level of homesickness and perceived stress were also significantly correlated, r (198) = 0.314, <i>p</i> < 0.05. The outcome of this study can help overseas students lead better lives abroad, while the university can arrange relevant activities to help them better adapt to local cultures and perceive less stress. The present study underlined the importance of increasing socio-cultural adaptation and social sustainability and decreasing homesickness among international students studying at the public university in Sabah.

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