What is the impact of online calculator tools for environmental sustainability?

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Are calculators worth your effort and funder’s money?

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Learning café organised by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) at:

“The Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable, Sustainable, Post Fossil Carbon Societies”
Nov. 1 – 4, 2015 | Sitges, Barcelona, Spain

Session organisers:
Senior Research Scientist Maija Mattinen, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Researcher Marja Salo, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
Researcher Kaisa Manninen, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)


Nowadays, it is very common to develope online calculators/tools during projects. As a result, the Internet is full of different calculators that are used rarely, or the data of the calculator are not fully utilized.

Until now, research has focused mostly on developing standards and methodologies behind sustainability calculators and discussing their consistency (Čuček et al 2012; Birnik 2013; Padgett et al. 2008). However, a primary question should be asked prior these efforts: do calculators, developed as outcomes of a research project, serve their intended purpose? Are they worth the invested resources?

Additionally, the question remains, if calculators can make an impact by informing consumers about, for example, the composition of the average or their personal environmental footprint; and does the use of a calculator have an impact on the consumption and lifestyle choices.

In this workshop we address these questions by inviting researchers to provide quantitative and qualitative assessment of the impact, strengths and weaknesses of the calculation tools they have developed and/or are working on.

The purpose of the knowledge café is three-fold:

  • To share the learnings, challenges and success stories from the existing calculators;
  • To discuss the potential and suitability of calculators as the tools to achieve the desired behavioural change and data for research purposes
  • To define what kind of calculators are the most useful and relevant in the context of cleaner production and sustainable consumption.

In this context, we invite authors to prepare and submit abstracts by xx.xx 2015.

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

We invite authors to prepare abstracts of 200 words in response this Call-for-Abstracts. The abstracts are to be prepared in English. In the abstract, the following questions should be answered:

  • What is the aim of the calculator?
  • What is the target group?
  • What has been the utilization rate of the calculator?
  • Who takes the ownership and maintenance responsibility of the calculator after the project?

For more information about this workshop, please contact:

Maija Mattinen, senior research scientist
Finnish Environment Institute
Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production
P.O. Box 140
FI-00251 Helsinki, Finland
maija.mattinen@ymparisto.fi(Please do not email credit card information under any circumstances)
Mobile. + 358 295 25 14 17
Twitter. @maija_mattinen


Birnik, A., 2013. An evidence-based assessment of the online carbon calculators. International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control 17, 280–293.
Čuček , L., Klemeš, J.J., Kravanja, Z., 2012. A Review of Footrpint analysis tools for monitoring impacts on sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production 34, 9–20.
Padgett, J.P., Steinemann, A.C., Clarke, J.H., Vandenbergh, M.P., 2008. A comparison of carbon calculators. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 28, 106–115.

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Supporting Publications
Intellectual Contributors
The Creativity and Sustainability Forum
Organised by
  • Clean technology centre
  • Wines of Alentejo