Sustainable Consumption

Group
  • Unit(s) of assessment: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
  • Research theme: Sustainable Futures
  • School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment

Overview

Sustainable Consumption is a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on people's influence on sustainability as users of products and services, ranging from consumer durables and clothing to buildings. Members apply theoretical and practical knowledge from design and related disciplines to environmental and social sustainability, often integrating expertise in design with research frameworks drawn from the social sciences.

The group is based in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment but works closely with sustainability experts across the University.

Staff are active in the following areas of research:

  • product lifetimes of consumer durables (vehicles, electrical and electronic goods, furniture etc.)
  • clothing longevity, fashion design and culture
  • sustainable design and consumer/user behaviour
  • innovative business models
  • sustainability and marketing
  • the repair and maintenance of consumer goods
  • reuse and upcycling
  • social innovation, collaborative consumption and social practices
  • sustainable materials and supply chains
  • product-service systems
  • craft-based practices
  • human-powered products
  • interdisciplinary practices and pedagogy.

PhD Opportunities

We welcome applications to undertake a higher degree by research leading to the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil). Further information on research degrees is available on the University website.

Related Staff

Group Lead

Professor Tim Cooper worked as an economist in industry prior to posts at the New Economics Foundation and Sheffield Hallam University. For the past twenty years he has undertaken multidisciplinary research on issues relating to product lifetimes, embracing sustainable design, consumer behaviour, public policy, and environmental values. He is editor of Longer Lasting Products (Routledge, 2010) and initiated the biennial PLATE (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) conferences. His research has been funded by the European Commission, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Defra and WRAP, and has included collaborative projects with industry in the clothing and electronic goods sectors.

Staff

PhD Students

Collaboration

Staff collaborate with a range of other universities. For example, the EPSRC-funded Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) was a partnership between Nottingham Trent University, Bath University, Cardiff University and Leeds University. The PLATE (Product Lifetimes and the Environment) conference series is managed by NTU in collaboration with the University of Delft (Netherlands), Aalto University (Finland) and Sheffield Hallam University (UK).

The Centre works with a range of industry partners, government departments (e.g. Defra), charities (e.g. WRAP) and networks (e.g. RREUSE, the Furniture Reuse Network). Recent projects have involved collaboration with manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment, vehicles and furniture. Research projects on clothing for WRAP have involved collaboration with a wide range of leading retailers and manufacturers, including those signed up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan.

For academic enquires please contact the Research Group Leader, Professor Tim Cooper by email or telephone +44 (0)115 848 4329.

Areas in which members of the research group can offer skills and expertise are detailed below:

Product lifetimes in theory and practice

  • Product durability and longevity
  • Reuse and second-hand markets
  • Product quality
  • Product lifetime expectations

Sustainable consumption and production

  • The circular economy and slowing material cycles
  • Consumption and the symbolic / functional value of goods
  • Ethical consumption
  • Consumer / user behaviour
  • Innovative business models
  • Sustainable supply chains
  • Systems of use and the product-service mix

Design and Technology

  • Sustainable product design / eco-design / environmental design
  • User-centred design
  • Sustainable innovation
  • Design and social change

Energy, Materials and Products

  • Measuring environmental impacts / embodied energy
  • Sustainable materials consumption
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Self-powered products

Public policy

  • Product standards and planned obsolescence
  • Environmental labelling
  • Waste prevention
  • Green fiscal reform

Publications

Publications by members of the Sustainable Consumption Research Group are too numerous to list here and may be found by clicking above on the names of individual members of the group.

The group periodically holds seminars and presentations, examples are below:

Climate Change Showcase, December 2015

  • Professor Tim Cooper - Too much stuff: the impact of consumerism on climate change.
  • Dr. Amanda Smith - Urban energy transitions to low carbon futures: the case of Nottingham.
  • Dr. Lynn Oxborrow and Angharad McLaren - From Future Factory to clothing longevity.
  • Toby Tonkin - Monitoring environmental change with unmanned aerial vehicles: a case study from a high-Arctic glacier.
  • Carlos Abrahams - Extreme events and freshwater ecology.
  • Dr. Naomi Braithwaite - Turning waste into value: a Circular Economy approach to climate change mitigation.
  • Dr. Petra Molthan-Hill - Preparing for the climate change summit - insights from the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative.
  • Dr. Marianna Poberezhskaya - Communication and climate change: case study of Russia.
  • Dr. Mofakkarul Islam - Determinants of the uptake of renewable energy generation practices on UK farms.
  • Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh - The use of infrared thermography for the assessment of a building's insulation and energy performance.
  • Dr. Ben Taylor - Media technologies and e-waste.
  • Dr. Christine Cole - Climate change and the repair, reuse culture.
  • Dr. Jillian Labadz - Upland management for the reduction of carbon losses from peatlands.
  • Dr. Roy Smith - Existential threats and opportunities for the low lying atoll states of the Pacific.

Sustainable Lighting Seminar 2014

  • Dr Jose Casamayor - Sustainable Lighting: The State of the Art
  • Daniel Shin - Human Powered Lighting: Using Human Power as a Battery Alternative in Portable Lighting
  • Philip Harfield - Eco-Innovation for Critical Materials in the Lighting Sector

Sustainable Materials Seminar, December 2013

  • Martin Higginson - Sustainable Materials; the new agenda
  • Mariale Moreno and Giuseppe Salvia - Awareness of Embodied Carbon, Material Flows and the Climate Change Agenda

Related Projects

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