<< Back to Information for decisionmakers
Nanoremediation: Information for Decision Makers from NanoRem

Thematic Page 10: Initial Sustainability Assessment Protocol for Nanoremediation Deployments within the NanoRem Project


1.  Aim
2.  Introduction
3.  NanoRem Sustainability Assessment Procedure
4.  Preparation
5.  Definition
6.  Execution and Reporting
7.  Additional Resources on the NanoRem Web site
8.  References

1 Aim


The aim of this page is to summarise the way NanoRem is carrying out sustainability assessments for pilot tests. This work is adapted from current European approaches – the NICOLE Roadmap and SuRF-UK assessment framework. NanoRem will use the NICOLE description of sustainable remediation (NICOLE 2010) and will apply the SuRF-UK methodology for sustainability assessment (CL:AIRE 2010).

2 Introduction


In the past decade or so, a risk-based approach to the management of historically contaminated land has developed, based on the prevention of unacceptable risks to human health and the environment, to ensure a site is ‘fit for use’. More recently, interest has been shown in integrating sustainability as a decision-making criterion; to select a remediation approach that achieves these core remediation objectives and also achieves a net benefit when balancing wider environmental, economic and social impacts. Indeed,
NICOLE[1] and the COMMON FORUM[2] published a joint position statement in 2013 to promote the integration of risk-based and sustainable land management across Europe (NICOLE and Common Forum 2013).

The findings of the sustainability assessments being carried out for the NanoRem pilot tests will form a unique resource that can benefit any technology providers, site owners, regulators and consultants who are involved in future nanoremediation projects by informing them of the potential benefits and challenges associated with the application of this technology.  

3 NanoRem Sustainability Assessment Procedure


A sustainability assessment will be carried out on a comparative basis, for example by comparing the sustainability of nanoremediation against a “no intervention” scenario and at least one remediation alternative considered by the local case study team as being a valid treatment alternative for the site.

The NanoRem sustainability assessment procedure involves three stages:

1.  Preparation - agreeing in advance how the sustainability assessment will be reported.
2.  Definition - providing a clearly defined assessment procedure. 
3.  Execution - carrying out the assessment procedure defined.

It will be led by a NanoRem assessor and involve input from the pilot test teams and relevant stakeholders identified by the teams. Such stakeholders may include regulators, land owners and local interest groups.

The three stages are illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 NanoRem sustainability assessment procedure (after SuRF-UK: CL:AIRE 2014)


As the decision to deploy nanoremediation has already been made at the NanoRem pilot tests, the sustainability assessment being carried out is retrospective in nature. However, it is still considered a valuable exercise to document the views of key stakeholders involved in negotiating the NanoRem pilot tests on wider social, economic and environmental issues associated with deployment at the site.

The NanoRem sustainability assessments will be assessed against the indicator sets developed to support the SuRF-UK framework (CL:AIRE 2011). Five overarching indicators are identified for each of environment, economic and social “pillars” or “elements” of sustainability (Figure 2).


Figure 2 SuRF-UK indicator categories (after CL:AIRE 2011)

One of the key principles associated with sustainable remediation is that “remediation decisions should be made having regard to the views of stakeholders and following a clear process within which they may participate”. It is therefore desirable that the views and opinions of other stakeholders with an interest or influence in the site and/or the pilot test can be captured and reflected in the assessment outcomes. In the absence of objective assessment, establishing such a wider, balanced opinion across a range of views is an important part of the process for achieving a reliable outcome.

4 Preparation 

Adequate planning and preparation are needed to provide a clear specification for the sustainability assessment to be undertaken. There are a number of steps to be completed to successfully plan for the assessment, namely:
  • To describe the decision requirement (why is assessment being carried out, involved parties, communication);
  • To describe the project (project objectives, remediation options being compared);
  • To describe the constraints (site-specific, e.g. time or budget limits, regulation/compliance, site constraints);
  • To consider the reporting requirements (planning and reporting, who to involve and when, resolving conflicts, reporting template).  

The preparation will be carried out by a NanoRem assessor, supported by the pilot test teams.

5 Definition

A clear definition is formed of the sustainability assessment approach that is to be undertaken and transparently reported and communicated to all relevant parties. It uses the outputs of the preparation stage as a starting point and includes five steps dealing with: 
  • Objectives (objectives of the sustainability assessment);
  • Boundaries (describe spatial, temporal and system boundaries within which the assessment is to be carried out);
  • Scope (identify specific factors, e.g. indicators, criteria for inclusion/exclusion and level of detail of the assessment);
  • Methodology (agree, with participants, the method used to compare options and how the assessment will be presented);
  • Reviewing uncertainties (agree approach for addressing uncertainty and assessing their potential effect on outcomes). 

The definition will be carried out by a NanoRem assessor, supported by the pilot test teams and wider stakeholders if feasible.

6 Execution and Reporting


The sustainability assessment will be implemented following the approach that has been defined and agreed by the participants. The key steps in this are: 

  • Carrying out comparisons across options for each individual sustainability criterion;
  • Aggregating these individual assessments into an overall assessment of sustainability;
  • Interpreting the aggregated assessment;
  • Appraisal of any uncertainties;
  • Concluding the findings of the sustainability assessment.

It is based on simple tables using qualitative categories, such as “good” or “neutral” or “better”.

Reporting and dialogue is a key part of all three stages of the sustainability assessment process. Dialogue is the process of interacting with the stakeholders (interested parties) in a project. Broadly speaking these will fall into two groups:

  • Dialogue Partners: those whose opinions need to be considered and will fundamentally influence the sustainability assessment.
  • Wider audience: those who the sustainability assessment will be communicated to, but who will not play an active role in determining it.

It is important that mixed messages are not delivered and that any reporting to bodies outside of the immediate project group is agreed in advance. It is recommended that communications outside the core group are handled by a single, named individual.

It is vitally important that the sustainability assessment is fully documented. Transparency is the underpinning principle of sustainability assessment reporting. A spreadsheet template will be used for record-keeping that follows the steps through from preparation to execution. The NanoRem assessor will record details in a log book for the sustainability assessment. The spreadsheet and log book will form the basis for the report.

7 Additional Resources on the NanoRem Web Site

This thematic page summarises information provided by the NanoRem report: 'NanoRem Case Study Sustainability Assessment Background and Workbook' and extended summary: 'NanoRem Case Study Sustainability Assessment: Extended Summary – Questions and Answers'. 

Additional summary information is also available on the following online pages:


Currently we have the following FAQ pages:




8 References

CL:AIRE 2010. A framework for assessing the sustainability of soil and groundwater remediation. UK Sustainable Remediation Forum (SuRF-UK)

CL:AIRE 2011. Annex 1: the SuRF-UK indicator set for sustainable remediation. UK Sustainable Remediation Forum (SuRF-UK)


CL:AIRE 2014. SuRF-UK roadmap. [Outputs available for project framing and planning a sustainability assessment and tier 1 – qualitative assessment]


NICOLE 2010. NICOLE road map for sustainable remediation.


NICOLE and COMMON FORUM 2013. Risk informed and sustainable remediation. A joint position statement by NICOLE and COMMON FORUM.


[1] NICOLE is a leading forum on contaminated land management in Europe, promoting co-operation between industry, academia and service providers on the development and application of sustainable technologies,

[2] The COMMON FORUM on Contaminated Land is a network of contaminated land policy makers, regulators and technical advisors from Environment Authorities in European Union member states and European Free Trade Association countries,

<< Back to Information for decisionmakers

Feedback and Opinions

We are interested in your opinions and your feedback on NanoRem's decision support information. If you have an opinion that you would like to share with us, or feedback about the information provided, please do get in touch. We are interested in all opinions and feedback, from specific technical points to policy or nontechnical issues. You can use the form below to do this. You may also use this form to seek further information from or co-operation with the NanoRem project.

Alternatively you may also contact us directly by e-mail; nanorem@r3environmental.co.uk.

If you e-mail us please give us the web link from the page you are referring to.

Feedback Form

Please select the category of your feedback

Please enter your feedback ( Max 3000 characters):  

Please enter your name: 

Please enter your Organisation: 

Please enter your Country: 

Please enter your Telephone number in case we need to contact you: 

Please enter your e-mail address:    

Please confirm your e-mail address:  


Terms and conditions of use

Use of this web site is subject to terms and conditions, including no warranties and limits to liabilities Full Terms & Conditions.

Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment.
This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No. 309517
Terms and Conditions      Privacy Policy      Contact Us
This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. By using this site you agree to these cookies being set.
To find out more see our Privacy Policy.