Erica Dorr’s PhD defence

Erica Dorr defends today her doctoral thesis titled "Environmental performance of urban agriculture: how to apply life cycle assessment, and he knowledge and questions generated" at the INRAE headquaters, under the supervision of Benoit Gabrielle and Christine Aubry.

Her jury is composed of Eléonore Loiseau from INRAE (Occitanie-Montpellier centre), Natacha Gondran from Mines Saint-Etienne, Haissam Jijakli from Université de Liège (Belgium), Bruno Peuportier from Mines ParisTech, Alexi Ernstoff from Quantis (Suisse), Arpad Horvath from University of California (Berkeley, US), Benoit Gabrielle from AgroParisTech – Université Paris-Saclay (Thesis director) and Christine Aubry from INRAE – Université Paris-Saclay (Thesis co-director).

The global food system causes massive environmental impacts, and faces the challenge of feeding an even larger, more urbanized population in the coming decades. Urban agriculture (UA) is a type of alternative agriculture, which may have environmental and social benefits, and comes in a large diversity of forms. These environmental benefits and impacts can be modeled with life cycle assessment (LCA). Application of LCA to UA is relatively recent, and has not undergone the same methodological reflections and adaptations that LCA of other sectors has.

In her thesis project, Erica Dorr pursued the following goals :

  1. investigating what LCA tells us about the environmental performance of UA, and
  2. investigating how best to apply LCA to UA.

She performed a review and meta-analysis of UA LCAs, and reviewed literature on the development of LCA for agriculture in general. She did LCAs of nine urban farms and gardens in Paris, France and the Bay Area, California, USA, and (with the FEW-meter project) analyzed resource use and food production at 72 UA case studies. She finally summarized and generated knowledge on the environmental performance of UA, and created a methodological framework to improve consistency and completeness in UA LCAs.

On the same subject
Scientific publications
Journal articles
Erica Dorr, Maximilien Koegler, Benoit Gabrielle, Christine C. Aubry Life cycle assessment of a circular, urban mushroom farm
Journal of Cleaner Production, 2021, 288, 13 p. ⟨10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125668⟩
Read more
Journal articles
Erica Dorr, Esther Sanye-Mengual, Benoit Gabrielle, Baptiste Grard et al. Proper selection of substrates and crops enhances the sustainability of Paris rooftop garden
Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2017, 37 (5), pp.31-51. ⟨10.1007/s13593-017-0459-1⟩
Read more
Christine Aubry
Senior Associate Researcher and Consultant Professor
Erica Dorr
PhD Student
A simplified life-cycle assessment tool will allow decision makers to assess the sustainability of urban agriculture projects and guide the design and management of these projects.
Learn more
Practitioner group
Bertrand Ney Rooftop at AgroParisTech
The benefits and costs related to green infrastructure in cities need to be better understood through assessment tools that measure environmental impacts, for example, carbon emissions due to the transport of substrates,
Learn more
Ecodistrict in Paris
Fill 14
Life-cycle assessment is a method to assess the environmental impacts of buildings and infrastructures throughout their life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials through to their end-of-lifetime handling.
Learn more
Reconciling nature and the city, a highly artificial environment, is an art that is practised from the scale of the building to that of the suburban territory, including that of the neighbourhood.
Learn more