Reference projects


Modelling a sustainable transition for European cities

Cities face an enormous challenge in becoming resilient, healthy places to live, while reaching net-zero-emissions in just a few short years. Material Economics is a working partner to EIT Climate-KIC in working with 15 of the most ambitious mayors, municipalities and city communities in Europe to drive transformation across all city systems – from mobility to waste to energy to health and the built environment.

Our team has developed an in-depth modelling tool to quantify abatement potential, investment needs, economic consequences and the value of indirect co-benefits for a series of city decarbonization initiatives. Findings are developed in close collaboration with involved cities, then used by mayors to design and finance extensive decarbonization programs as well as improve the lives of city residents.

Sustainability transition for a large European industrial company

A European basic industry player have developed a new environmentally friendly production technology with potential for major impact for both the company and its industry. They reached out to us with the question “How can we make this technology commercially viable and what would the implications for our company be?”

We set up a team with consultants from Material Economics and key people within the company. During a few months, we worked closely with the executive leadership of the company and together identified the logic behind a technology shift, its technical implications, the requirements for reaching commercial viability, and potential business upside. Based on our findings, a plan forward was set, with key initiatives in the coming decade for making the technology shift and to reduce the risk of transitioning.

Maximizing investment returns during a climate transition

Sustainability is increasingly growing in importance for investors and comes with several opportunities and risks. A major Swedish institutional investor needed help to create a joint view of the sustainability transition, understand if their investments were driving towards sustainability and understand how they could capture the investment opportunities that sustainability brings.

During a two months project, we did a structured walk-through of value chains where trends connected to the climate transition affect the market and will create shifts in asset values. We worked closely with the executive leadership of the organisation and brought in experts on different clean markets to share knowledge with the client. We then built a fact base around concrete investment themes and delivered a list of suitable investment opportunities that fit the organisation’s investment criteria, skill set and beliefs.

Transforming real estate

A successful real estate firm recently asked us a profoundly important question: ‘What should an organization like ours actually do on sustainability? We have long time-lines for all our properties, and we believe sustainability issues will be crucial for the real estate sector in the near future, but currently we don’t see much demand for truly sustainable buildings?’ We worked together on a 6-month task force to jointly think through that question, assessing tenant requirements and trends, investor preferences and how they are changing, new building technology development, and regulatory trends. We uncovered ways to, in an economically attractive way, go way beyond the traditional focus on energy efficiency, and to also include building materials, and the health and productivity of the people living and working in the buildings. Our client is now embarking on a journey to transform their segments of real estate into something quite different. Stay tuned.

Zero-emission urban mobility

Given the acceleration of zero-emission transportation technologies, we recently helped a public transport authority with a full electrification strategy for its bus fleet. This meant working through cost implications now and in the future, the technological maturity of electric buses, environmental implications, and transition challenges for our client.

Re-shaping an industrial product portfolio to meet future customer sustainability expectations

A leading industrial manufacturing company in the Nordics, noticing an increased focus on sustainability from their customers, asked us to support them to better understand how their customers’ expectations will evolve over the next 5-10 years when it comes to sustainability. We analyzed the speed of change in relevant value chains, and interviewed customers, product managers and sales managers. The results showed a quickly raising bar for sustainability and electrification, with immediate implications for the R&D project portfolio. We also identified a number of customer segments where sustainability could be a positive differentiator for our client, driving additional sales and growth.

A value perspective on the Swedish material system

In this groundbreaking research project, we are taking a value perspective on the Swedish material system. Both public statistics and academic research traditionally take a volume perspective on material flows, mapping how metric tons or cubic meters of different materials flow through the economy. We are instead mapping how the economic value of different materials develop as they flow through the economy. Our exam question is: If you put 100 crowns of raw materials into the Swedish economy, how much of that value is left after one use cycle? Where is value lost and what can be done about it? This value perspective gives a much more realistic view of how circular the Swedish material system really is, as it captures all the downgrading effects that occur through our material use, in addition to the volume effects that also traditional research approaches capture. The value perspective also turns materials recycling into an industrial innovation topic and an economic topic, in addition to an environmental topic. To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has done this type of value mapping of a material system. Read more about the results and download the report here.

Greenhouse gas abatement cost curves

While at McKinsey, Per-Anders Enkvist invented McKinsey’s approach to greenhouse gas abatement cost curves, and led this work globally between 2007 and 2015, including the global cost curve and the >30 national cost curves that have been completed. The ‘McKinsey cost curve’ is one of the most used and quoted tools for thinking quantitatively about climate change mitigation and its economic and business implications. It has had extensive coverage in The Economist, Financial Times, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal, Süddeutsche Zeitung and many other newspapers.

Growth Within: a circular economy vision for a competitive Europe

Per-Anders Enkvist was one of the lead authors of this report, published in 2015 by SUN (the environmental economics arm of the Deutsche Post Foundation), McKinsey’s Center for Business and the Environment, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The report paints an inspiring and concrete vision of what a circular economy in Europe could look like, with many case examples for mobility, food, and housing. It quantifies the economic and environmental impact of a circular economy transition and shows its positive effects. The report was launched in Brussels in June 2015 together with European Commissioners Timmermans, Katainen and Vella.