Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5153-5170; doi:10.3390/su7055153 (registering DOI) - published 27 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The main objective of this research is to study the role of energy consumption in economic growth in Saudi Arabia over the period of 1971–2012 using the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) cointegration procedure, and based on neoclassical growth, endogenous growth, and ecological-economics viewpoints. Our empirical results show the existence of a cointegrating relationship between the different variables investigated. In addition, all the inputs (conventional and non-conventional) Granger cause economic growth in both the short and long runs. Our findings confirm the energy-led growth hypothesis in the case of Saudi Arabia. Hence, energy conservation policies may deteriorate economic growth in Saudi Arabia if they are not followed by measures that improve energy efficiency, energy saving technologies and encourage the investment and use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energies that can participate in the attenuation of climate changes.
Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5139-5152; doi:10.3390/su7055139 (registering DOI) - published 27 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Organic growers face unique challenges when raising sweet corn, and benefit from varieties that maintain high eating quality, germinate consistently, deter insect pests, and resist diseases. Genotype by environment rank changes can occur in the performance of cultivars grown on conventional and organic farms, yet few varieties have been bred specifically for organic systems. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the changes made to open-pollinated sweet corn populations using recurrent selection and a participatory plant breeding (PPB) methodology. From 2008 to 2011, four cycles of two open-pollinated (OP) sweet corn populations were selected on a certified organic farm in Minnesota using a modified ear-to-row recurrent selection scheme. Selections were made in collaboration with an organic farmer, with selection criteria based on traits identified by the farmer. In 2012 and 2013, the population cycles were evaluated in a randomized complete block design in two certified organic locations in Wisconsin, with multiple replications in each environment. Significant linear trends were found among cycles of selection for quantitative and qualitative traits, suggesting the changes were due to recurrent selection and PPB methodology for these populations. However, further improvement is necessary to satisfy the requirements for a useful cultivar for organic growers.
Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5120-5138; doi:10.3390/su7055120 (registering DOI) - published 27 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Research and development (R&D) is a critical factor in sustaining a firm’s competitive advantage. Accurate measurement of R&D productivity and investigation of its influencing factors are of value for R&D productivity improvements. This study is divided into two sections. The first section outlines the innovation and commercialization stages of firm-level R&D activities. This section analyzes the productivity of each stage using a propensity score matching (PSM) and two-stage data envelopment analysis (DEA) integrated model to solve the selection bias problem. Second, this study conducts a comparative analysis among subgroups categorized as labor unionized or non-labor unionized on productivity at each stage. We used Korea Innovation Survey (KIS) data for analysis using a sample of 400 Korean manufacturers. The key findings of this study include: (1) firm innovation and commercialization productivity are balanced and show relatively low innovation productivity; and (2) labor unions have a positive effect on commercialization productivity. Moreover, labor unions are an influential factor in determining manufacturing firms’ commercialization productivity.
Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5094-5119; doi:10.3390/su7055094 (registering DOI) - published 27 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In the context of a relatively scarce water country, the article analyzes the changes in 50 years in the water footprint (WF) in Spain evaluating its sustainability. For that purpose, firstly we make use of the regional information of the water footprints and crop production to estimate the WF of production over the 50 provinces in Spain, looking at the variation between the years 1955 and 2005–2010. The detail in the information of crops (more than 150 of them) statistics allows us to examine the types and origin of changes (in volume produced, shifts towards more or less water intensive crops). Secondly, we estimate sustainability indicators also at the provincial level, which let us evaluate whether this change has created or incremented the risk of physical and economic water stress. Thirdly, we introduce the economic perspective, providing evidence on the infrastructures built and public sector expenditure, as an approximation to the costs of the increases in WF, particularly meaningful for those water stressed areas.
Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5071-5093; doi:10.3390/su7055071 (registering DOI) - published 27 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The operation of so-called Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB) does not result in harmful emissions to water, soil and air. In contrast, ZEBs produce energy, water and resources. Therefore, the definition of ZEBs in this paper goes well beyond the definition of (Net) Zero Energy Buildings, which focuses primarily on greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels. The concept of ZEB is based on the decentralization of urban infrastructure systems on the building level. The aim is to avoid environmental impacts during the building operation through sustainable production, management, consumption, and recycling of resources. In order to facilitate an easy evaluation of ZEBs a ZEB assessment tool needed to be developed. This paper discusses the development of the general framework, the assessment method, and the ZEB Assessment Tool (ZEBAT), which facilitates the evaluation of the environmental performance of potential ZEBs. The exemplary evaluation of selected case studies from Switzerland and South Korea illustrates the method and the practicability of the ZEBAT for the evaluation of potential ZEBs. The holistic integration of environmental performance factors and their specific environmental impacts facilitates the successful application of the ZEBAT independently from the specific use of a building and its geographical location.
Sustainability2015, 7(5), 5050-5070; doi:10.3390/su7055050 - published 24 April 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The characterization of stormwater runoff on urbanized surfaces by means of comparison between experimental data and simulations is a strict requirement for a sustainable management of urban sewer systems. A monitoring campaign was carried out within a residential area in Puglia (Southern Italy) in order to collect and evaluate quantity and quality data. A strong correlation was observed between COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) and TSS (Total Suspended Solid) concentrations, whose values exceed water quality standards. TSS was used for calibration of Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) which was then validated with reference to the pollutograph’s shape and the peak-time. The first flush phenomenon occurrence was also investigated by looking at the distribution of pollutant mass vs. volume in stormwater discharges, using the so-called “M(V) curves”. Results show that on average the first 30% of that washed off carries 60% of TSS and provides important information for the design of efficient systems for first flush treatment.