Development of an Architecture Framework for Portfolios of Sustainable Technology Projects Open Access
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Achieving environmental sustainability is a significant challenge, with the development and diffusion of sustainable technologies widely regarded as a key component to achieving sustainability. The literature on diffusion of innovations, evolutionary economics, and Science and Technology Studies inform a recent body of literature around transitions to sustainable technologies. Key theories within this field of transitions to sustainable technologies are strategic niche management, multi-level perspective, and transition management. Common elements of these three theories includes concepts of niche, regime, and landscape, transition pathways, stakeholder networks, and challenges around knowledge retention and capture of lessons learned. The execution of multiple projects to identify, improve, and ultimately diffuse more sustainable technological solutions is also a common element of approaches to sustainable technology transitions. However, there is still a lack of tools for practitioners to support the planning, management and execution of such portfolios of sustainable technology projects.The objective of this research is to develop a systems engineering approach, namely an architecture framework, which builds upon theories of transitions to sustainable technologies and supports management of portfolios of sustainable technology projects. The architecture framework's use is demonstrated with real-world case studies and lessons learned are identified. Systems engineering is seen as an appropriate tool for dealing with issues of sustainability and the challenges associated with sustainable technology transitions. Systems engineering has already been applied within the fields of sustainability, management of R&D; portfolios, and, to some extent, technology transitions. Systems architecting, an approach from systems engineering, has been applied to information and defense systems, as well as to processes and complex socio-technical systems, and is used within this research to address the management of portfolios of sustainable technology projects.Requirements derived from the sustainable technology transitions and systems architecting literature drove initial development of the architecture framework. Three cases studies were then identified and project portfolio information collected. Representative architecture descriptions were built based on the case studies and used to analyze and improve the architecture framework. Lessons learned from the case studies were used to refine and enhance the architecture framework construct. Potential architecture development processes were also developed. The resulting architecture framework meets the requirements driven by the literature, and was also seen to have practical utility based on the case studies. The architecture framework developed in this research provides a tool for the planning, management and execution of portfolios of sustainable technology projects. It also mitigates challenges around knowledge retention and capture of lessons learned. The integrated structure enhances knowledge sharing and evaluation of opportunities and challenges across the portfolio of projects.