Academics with a Focus on Measuring and Communicating Carbon Handprint

Our student ambassadors have carefully curated lists of professionals who have made a significant impact on sustainability in their industry.

From Finnish CEOs to entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka, the professionals hand-picked on this list come from a variety of professions and countries.

We continue adding people on the lists that deserve to be noticed for the good they have done for nature.

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Academics with a Focus on Measuring and Communicating Carbon Handprint

The Carbon Handprint concept is a relatively recent addition to the environmental and sustainability discourse. In essence, it champions the reporting of a process or material’s potential positive impact on the environment. In this list we have selected individuals that have produced research either focusing specifically on how a handprint can be measured or calculated or those that have produced research on calculating life cycle sustainability assessments with a particular focus on measuring the positive impacts of materials and processes. 

The criteria used for selecting this list is as follows. The academics must have a history (5 years) of producing research on sustainability assessments. Their research must either specifically mention the concept of Handprints or it must heavily emphasise the methods and benefits of reporting on positive carbon contributions as well as footprints. Because the concept of Handprints is so new, recent research is prioritised over historical and research projects whose findings have yet to be published can be considered. 


Gregory Norris

Gregory Norris could be considered to be the Father of Carbon Handprint Research. His paper “Handprint-based netpositive assessment was the first significant use of the handprint concept to describe an organisation or individual’s positive environmental impact and introduced the concept of “NetPositive”.  

Norris is Director of SHINE (the Sustainability and Health Initiative for Net-positive Enterprise) at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). His research focuses on the methods, frameworks and projects required to enable people and organisations to achieve a net positive sustainability impact. His research shows that in order to achieve this, along with the reduction of carbon footprint, other factors (such as impact on others footprints) must be taken into account.


Kaisa Gronman

Kaisa Gronman is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of sustainability at LUT university in Finland.

Her research projects have focused on life-cycle assessment with a particular focus on the calculation and promotion of positive carbon impacts.

She has recently contributed to a paper entitled “Carbon Handprint in the Encyclopaedia of Sustainability Management which defines the new Carbon Handprint approach and advocates for the use of the calculation and reporting of positive carbon impact. 


Tiina Pajula

Tiina Pajula is a Principal Scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. For over twenty years her research has focused on sustainable business concepts and sustainability assessment.

She has been actively involved in the recent Finnish academic movement promoting the use of Carbon Handprint and is part of the Environmental Handprint Project Research Group.

Pajula is also the co-ordinator of the EU project SAMT (Sustainability assessment methods and tools to support decision-making in the process industries)


Saija Vatanen

Saija Vatanen is a Senior Scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Her research focuses on sustainability assessments and the circular economy.

Over recent years she has played a key role in the promotion of the Handprint approach to Carbon reporting and is also a part of the Environmental Handprint Project Research Group.


Katri Behm

Katri Behm is a Research Scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Her research focuses on sustainability. She is also a key member of the Environmental Handprint Project Research Group.

Much of her recent published research has centred around the reporting and calculation of positive climate impacts along with footprints to create a more complete view of the life cycle environmental impact of products’, organisations’ and individuals’.

Behm was a key contributor to the 2016 paper “Carbon handprint: Communicating the good we do” which developed Norris’ definition of Handprints and noted the need for widely accepted calculation guidelines. They also reported on the various ways organisations are already calculating and reporting environmental benefits, without the use of the term “handprints” and emphasized the significant economic benefits of using a framework to report and communicate these – i.e. by adopting the Handprint concept. 


Rodrigo Alvarenga

Rodrigo Alvarenga is a Researcher at Ghent University.

His research centres around sustainability management through Life Cycle approaches.

Much of the research through his career has explored the methods for calculating carbon footprints and sustainability assessments and he has produced papers calculating the life cycle over a range of products and processes, for example bioethanol-based PVC

Recently, Alvarenga has embraced the concept of handprints within the Life Cycle Assessment discourse. In a 2020 paper he proposes that there are three different types of handprint;  Direct, Indirect and Relative. Alvarenga then introduces a framework with which to incorporate the handprint concept into Life Cycle Assessments.


Sangwon Suh

Sangwon Suh is a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California.

While his research has not adopted the Handprint terminology, he is a world leading researcher in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and is one of part of both working groups by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the World Resources Institute (WRI)/ World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in their efforts for carbon footprint standardisation.

He is incredibly influential within the LCA field and in 2018 was named in the Highly Cited Researchers List (recognising the top 1% of academics in their field. 

A large degree of Suh’s research has centred around the methods for performing Life Cycle Assessments, and it is this which makes his research so applicable to the Handprint discourse.


Katriina Alhola

Katriina Alhola is a Senior Research Scientist at The Finnish Environment Institute (SKYE). Her research focuses on sustainable consumption and production.

She has produced a number of papers centred around public procurement, and the economical benefits that can be gained when environmental impacts are considered when awarding contracts. 

In 2015, Alhola collaborated with Norris and others to report on the various ways in which businesses are striving to become carbon neutral. A key focus of the report was on the measurement of positive carbon impacts to offset negative carbon footprints.

The concept of Handprints was defined, discussed and the significant advantage of communicating positive handprints in terms of public relations and the impact that can have on a businesses finances was noted. 


Samanthi Silva

Samanthi Silva is a Research Associate at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), having recently joined in January 2020, and focuses on researching sustainability transformations from a management perspective.

Prior to that she was a Research Associate at Leuphana University of Luneburg (LUT). A great deal of her research has emphasised the measurement of positive sustainability

Silva was a key member of two project research groups during her time at LUT that are of high significance to the Handprint discourse: “Increasing positive contributions to sustainability transformations” and The Handprint: Measuring positive sustainability outcomes of products. The findings from the latter describes how a sustainability assessment approach to evaluate positive contributions to sustainable development at the product level was developed and demonstrate its feasibility in a pilot case study. 


Stefan Schaltegger

Stefan Schaltegger is a Professor for Sustainability Management at Leuphana University Luneburg (LUL).

His research over many years has centred around the links between business and sustainability.

Along with Silva he was a key member of the LUT projects: “Increasing positive contributions to sustainability transformations” and “The Handprint: Measuring positive sustainability outcomes of products”


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