Identifying Suitable Indicators for Measuring Sustainability of Bioenergy Products Derived from Pine Forests in the U.S. South (Phase-1)

EPA Grant Number: SU833913
Title: Identifying Suitable Indicators for Measuring Sustainability of Bioenergy Products Derived from Pine Forests in the U.S. South (Phase-1)
Investigators: Alavalapati, Janaki R.R. , Acevedo, Miguel F. , Fletcher, Jr., Robert J. , Reddy, Konda R. , Lindner, Angela S. , Martin, Melissa , Lal, Pankaj , Dwivedi, Puneet
Current Investigators: Alavalapati, Janaki R.R. , Acevedo, Miguel F. , Fletcher, Jr., Robert J. , Reddy, Konda R. , Lindener, Angela S. , Martin, Melissa , Lal, Pankaj , Dwivedi, Puneet
Institution: University of Florida
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 31, 2008 through July 31, 2009
Project Amount: $9,955
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The objective of this project is to develop a basic framework for four sustainability indices for bioenergy production namely: 1) economic; 2) biodiversity; 3) greenhouse gas emission reduction and net energy ratio; and 4) soil and water quality. These indices can be used to assess sustainability of bioenergy products in general and cellulosic ethanol in particular.


Bioenergy sustainability will be assessed through a three step approach of reviewing literature, designing indices and testing indices on the ground for pine ecosystem. The stepwise process includes reviewing existing studies on U.S. bioenergy production and assessing applicability of existing forestry and agriculture certification schemes for pine biomass production and its subsequent conversion to biofuels; undertaking a critical assessment of estimates of biodiversity, soil and water quality, GHG emissions and economic impacts in southern states using meta-analytic approaches (where appropriate) and identifying major issues that may influence variation in these estimates (e.g., landscape-level land use change causing loss of some species sensitive to these changes); preparing a methodology framework that can be used to asses sustainability of biofuels based on above four indices; and conducting a preliminary field level life cycle analyses at a selected site in Florida to attribute energy and emission values for a pine ecosystem.

The project moulds existing forestry and agriculture certification schemes, according to requirements of bioenergy certification, and can establish whether biofuels are making a positive contribution to the environment, standard of living, and democratic and ethical values of society. The methodology reports of the project can be replicated for conducting empirical assessments, the fact sheets and brochures developed can be used to educate children, adults, and industry on biofuels sustainability in an easy to learn manner. Overall, the results of this project are geared towards benefiting various stakeholders including government, NGOs, industry, NIPF landowners, and the public alike, and facilitate rapid and more informed decision making towards a “green lifestyle” while generating multiplier effects by transmitting bioenergy sustainability knowledge and maximizing educational benefits.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Bioethanol, feedstock production and conversion, biomass supply chain, clean technologies, land use change, water quality, soil quality, cost benefit analyses, life cycle assessment, wood crop rotation, biofuel sustainability framework, Kaldor-Hicks criteria, Pareto optimality, economic efficiency, carbon cap and trade, specie richness index, Shannon biodiversity index, meta-analysis, biofuel indicators, bioenergy certification, biofuel certification inventory, net social benefits, economic welfare change, GHG, soil degradation, distribution inequality, fuel efficiency, net energy equivalent, biodiesel, alternative energy, carbon emissions, biofuel co-products, sustainable energy source,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, sustainable development, environmental sustainability, alternative materials, biomass, alternative fuel, biodiesel fuel, energy efficiency, energy technology, alternative energy source

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report