UBC Undergraduate Research

Identifying Decision Criteria for the Proposed Resource Recovery Wastewater Facility on UBC Alvari, Pedram


Problem In the interest of sustainability, researchers at the University of British Columbia have proposed the construction of an integrated liquid and solid waste resource recovery facility on campus that functions as a full-scale research laboratory while processing waste streams. The decisions involved in the planning processes are complex and are likely to result in stakeholders holding different preferences and views. Objective This research aims to clarify the complexities within the decision-making process by uncovering how stakeholders can best assess the appropriateness of decision criteria. Recommendation I recommend the use of Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) as an integrated assessment approach to refine decision criteria and subsequently explore how appropriate criteria can be identified when dealing with complex decision-making. Process The study is based on interviews with two key stakeholder groups, the researchers who have proposed the construction of the facility and members of UBC operations who would be implementing the facility. The interview data was analyzed using a data matrix of preferred criteria and then refined using the MCDA methodology. Results The initial analysis of interview data showed both stakeholder groups sharing similar criteria preferences. These findings did not coincide with the presented problem, as the presence of decision complexities would mean the presence of differentiating preferences and views. The second stage of analysis involved refinement of data using MCDA methodologies. Findings suggest that certain criteria, even those mutually favoured, can be problematic in the decision-making process. Although stakeholder groups agreed on the importance of similar criteria, their desired end goals were outside the criteria’s parameters. Highly valued criteria such as resource recovery was valued for the educational benefits which it could bring to the university, and interests that are itself outside of the resource recovery criteria’s initial goals. Therefore, resource recovery took on the characteristics of education criteria. Education criteria, in turn, was valued for its ability to generate revenue, which, in turn, placed it more in the interests of cost criteria. The results of the study further analyze the barriers differentiating preferences can bring to the decision making process.

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