Technology and Sustainability

Sustainable development must take account of the effects of technology on the environment and society. The ITA looks at the question of how new technologies can help increase ecological, economic and social sustainability.

Austria is committed to the principles of sustainable development. Basically, this means that future generations should continue to have opportunities for development, and also that social justice should be improved at both national and international level.

Undesirable side-effects

Sustainable development is closely linked to the use of technology. The effects of modern technologies are not only positive. On the contrary, many problems such as those concerning the environment, are the direct result of the use of technology. For instance, aircraft transport us rapidly and safely from A to B, but air traffic is a major contributor to the global climate problems. Many of the resources consumed will no longer be available to future generations, which from today's point of view will seriously restrict their opportunities for development.

Technical requirements of sustainability

Thus technology and sustainability are in an ambivalent relationship. The use of modern technology is on the one hand partly responsible for today's problems, but on the other hand the need for more sustainability depends to a considerable extent on new technical solutions. A sustainable society will only function if it can make use of reliable technical systems. These should be highly efficient, benefit health, be renewable, reusable, socially affordable etc – to mention but a few criteria.

TA investigates innovation processes

In all of this, it is important that sustainability cannot be "imposed" on a completed technology after the event. On the contrary, fundamental criteria for sustainability must be taken into account as early as possible in the development of new technologies.

This also broadens the research perspective of TA. From the point of view of sustainability, TA examines technical solutions not only in terms of their contribution to sustainable development throughout society; it also examines how innovation processes can be directed more strongly towards sustainability and how technical innovations can be disseminated sustainably.

In terms of content, we at the ITA concentrate on the fields of climate protection, energy supply and ambient assisted ageing. The question of sustainability is also becoming of increasing significance in the field of engineering education, another TA topic.

Maintaining ressources for generations to come is one of the goals of sustainability research

Selected projects related to Technology and Sustainability