Indicators are needed to assess environmental sustainability of bioenergy systems. Effective indicators will help in the quantification of benefits and costs of bioenergy options and resource uses. We identify 19 measurable indicators for soil quality, water quality and quantity, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, air quality, and productivity, building on existing knowledge and on national and international programs that are seeking ways to assess sustainable bioenergy. Together, this suite of indicators is hypothesized to reflect major environmental effects of diverse feedstocks, management practices, and post-production processes. The importance of each indicator is identified. Future research relating to this indicator suite is discussed, including field testing, target establishment, and application to particular bioenergy systems. Coupled with such efforts, we envision that this indicator suite can serve as a basis for the practical evaluation of environmental sustainability in a variety of bioenergy systems.

Contact Information
Contact Person: 
Virginia H. Dale
Contact Organization: 
Center for Bioenergy Sustainability, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Publication Information
Author: 
Allen C.McBride
Virginia H. Dale
Latha M. Baskaran
Mark E. Downing
Laurence M. Eaton
Rebecca A. Efroymson
Charles T. Garten Jr.
Keith L. Kline
Henriette I. Jager
Patrick J. Mulholland
Esther S. Parish
Peter E. Schweizer
John M. Storey
Publication Year: 
2011
DOE Information
Bioenergy Category: