Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
Mission of the Institute


   The mission of the Institute is to help bring about greater harmony between the natural world in which we live and the technology and energy systems on which we depend -- hence the name "Sustainable Technology and Energy."  Both of these components are essential to our quality of life.  Modern technology has brought us many benefits.  When the system is working at its best, we can depend on medical care that will protect us from many diseases and injuries; on a reliable supply of food and food products; and on an economic system which allows us to earn a living in a limited work week and still have leisure time left.  But in order to be considered a permanent success, this system must "live within its environmental means": from generation to generation it must leave the environment in a condition as good as or better than the one it received.  That's very different from the path we are currently on: ever expanding the technology/energy side of the equation (at least for the wealthy portion of the human population), but continually degrading the natural environment in the process.

Q: How does this mission fit in with what is already being done for the environment?

The Institute sees "Sustainable-Technology-Energy" as the key remaining component in the campaign to save the global natural environment.  We have already created a movement to protect wildlife habitat and other wild lands; we have created a legal framework for enacting and enforcing environmental laws, including a framework for international cooperation; and we have developed a range of end-of-pipe technologies for containing and controlling pollution.   Without a fundamental shift in how our technology in its essence interacts with nature, though, these other measures will not be able to "turn the corner" on environmental degradation.  They will be continually in retreat, cleaning up one mess at the same time that another four or five are created.  It is especially important to understand the difference between end-of-pipe technology and sustainable technology: sustainable means more than catching pollution before it escapes, it means using mainly renewable inputs (sunlight, wind, plants and trees, etc) and producing only outputs that can be integrated back into nature, or used in another technology.

Q: What areas of sustainability does the Institute focus on?

   The role of technology and energy as defined in this mission is quite broad, so many different areas of work are of potential interest in the long run.  At present, the Institute is focused on three areas, as a reflection of the director's background:

These three areas are all related to eachother: for example, implementing industrial environmental management is likely to call on elements of alternative energy and sustainable freight transportation.
 
 


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Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
Current Projects and Interests


The Institute is currently active in the following areas, either carrying out funded work, writing for publication, or seeking new funding:

For more information about any of these projects, please send email to francisvanek@yahoo.com.

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Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
Recent Publications


  The following papers are available from the Institute, organized by topic, in the following order:

 Where no link or mailing address is given, these can be obtained electronically as MS Word attachments by sending email to francisvanek@yahoo.com.

Sustainable freight transportation

Francis Vanek; "Growth of Exports from Developing Countries: Implications for Freight Trends and Ecological Impact"; Futures, forthcoming, 2001.  Published by Elsevier.

Francis Vanek; "Analysis of the Potential for Spatial Redistribution of Freight Using Mathematical Programming", European Journal of Operational Research, forthcoming, 2001.   Published by Elsevier.
*A previous draft of this paper also available from Heriot-Watt University School of Management as "Discussion Paper in Management 2000-S1."  Write to "S.O.M. Discussion Paper Series, School of Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, United Kingdom", including author and title as well as paper number.

Francis Vanek; "Sustainably Distributed? An Environmental Critique of the UKs Sustainable Distribution Policy."  World Transport Policy and Practice, Vol.6 No.2., 2000.  Available on-line from Ecoplan.

Francis Vanek and Edward Morlok; "Reducing US Freight Energy Use Through Commodity Based Analysis: Justification and Implementation." Transportation Research Part D, Vol.5 No.1 pp. 11-29, 2000.  Published by Elsevier.

Francis Vanek; "The Transportation-Production Tradeoff in Regional Environmental Impact of Industrial Systems: a Case Study in the Paper Sector"; Environment and Planning A, Vol.32, pp.817-832, 2000.  Published by Pion.

Francis Vanek and James Campbell, "UK Road Freight Energy Use by Product:  Trends and Analysis from 1985 to 1995"; Transport Policy, Vol.6, pp. 237-246, 1999.  Published by Elsevier.
*A previous draft of this paper also available from Heriot-Watt University School of Management as "Discussion Paper in Logistics 1999-L1."  Write to "S.O.M. Discussion Paper Series, School of Management, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, United Kingdom", including author and title as well as paper number.

Francis Vanek and Edward Morlok; "Freight Energy Use Disaggregated by Commodity: Comparisons and Discussion"; Transportation Research Record 1641 pp.3-8 (National Academy of Sciences Press, Washington DC), 1998.  Published by Elsevier.

Francis Vanek; "Reducing Freight in Agriculture: a test case using the shipment of fruits and vegetables in the US". Personal working paper, 1995.

Non-motorized transportation

Francis Vanek and Steven Spindler; "Community Cycling Accessibility Initiative: Enhancing Cycling to Reduce Auto Dependency."  International Association of Traffic and Safety Sciences Research, Vol.23 No.2, pp. 36-42, 1999.  Published by IATSS.

Francis Vanek; "Bicycle Improvements: ways of enhancing nonrecreational cycling".
Personal working paper, 1994.

Public transportation

Edward Morlok, Eric Bruun, Francis Vanek, and Keith Campbell; "The Advanced Minibus Concept: a New ITS-based Service for Low-Density Markets"; technical report for US Department of Transportation, May 1997.

Environmental management

Francis Vanek; "The Sector-Stream Matrix: Introducing a New Framework for the Analysis of Environmental Performance"; Sustainable Development, forthcoming, 2002.

Francis Vanek; "A Systems Analytic Approach to Sustainable Development"; Conference paper presented at the 1999 International Sustainable Development Research Conference, Leeds, U.K., March 1999.

Note: regarding copyright laws, it is my understanding that for papers accepted to journals, I can send individual copies electronically to colleagues, but that I cannot put such papers on the web for download.  It may be therefore worthwhile to find the paper directly at the publishers website. --FV

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Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
About the Director


   The director of the Institute, Francis Vanek, received bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Asian Studies from Cornell University in 1991.  After working for Nissan Motors and also as a technical translator and interpreter for two years, he returned to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a Masters degree in Systems Engineering in 1995 and a PhD in the same in 1998.  His doctoral research focused on the environmental impact of freight transport and logistics activities, using the breakdown of freight flows by commodity and by spatial pattern in the United States.  Between 1998 and 2000 he taught at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, focusing on classes in freight transportation and environmental issues in transport, and also developing a new class in Environmental Management, an experience which helped shape the direction of the Institute.
   Francis has maintained since his undergraduate days a long-term interest in alternative energy and appropriate technology, and has worked in both a paid and volunteer capacity on numerous projects in America and Europe, as well as in developing countries.  His hobbies include bicycling (which also happens to be his year-round favorite mode of transportation), cooking, and world travel.  He and his partner, Catherine Johnson, have two children, Ray age 5 and Mira age 1.

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Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
Sister Organization: the S.T.E.V.E.N. Foundation


The acronym S.T.E.V.E.N. stands for "Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs."  Founded in 1986, this organization develops and disseminates low-cost Appropriate Technology (AT) to capture hand and renewable energy (especially solar and hydro), with a particular focus on developing countries.  These two organizations have complementary roles: while S.T.E.V.E.N. continues to focus on appropriate technology designs, the Institute expands this interest in sustainable technology design into the areas of policy research, outreach, and advocacy, focusing not only on renewable energy but also sustainable transportation and industry.

To the S.T.E.V.E.N. Foundation Homepage...

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Sustainable Technology and Energy Institute
Other links of interest



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Last updated on September 15, 2001.  Photographs on this page, in order from top: shipping container loading, Port of Aberdeen; Scotrail train, Edinburgh Waverley Station; electric windfarm, near Haverfordwest, Wales; bicycle path, outside of Edinburgh; sunset over Isle of Iona, Scotland; director outside of John Muir Birthplace, Dunbar, Scotland.  (All taken by FV)  Exclusive use of photographs from Britain is for lack of appropriate pictures from USA at present; the director is on the lookout for items of local interest, and will update as these become available!