MCDA Workshop

Workshop to explore harmonization of value-based MCDA analysis methodologies for use in sustainability decision-making


Assessing the sustainability of one solution or policy over another is rarely a simple issue. Alternatives are often better in one aspect of sustainability, say human health or ecotoxicity, and worse in another. Seldom does a single alternative satisfy all stakeholders. To address this need, numerous Multi-Critieria Decision Analysis (MCDA) methodologies are being used to help industry, NGOs and governmental policy-makers assess the sustainability of decisions and policies. These methodologies appear to be converging around several concepts: stakeholder engagement and value-based assessment to name two. However, with so many different concepts being discussed in different terms by different organizations, there is no apparent consensus on methodology. This leaves organizations searching for a solution having to wade through the different methodologies before they can even start to apply them. 


The goal of this workshop is to bring these different methods into some kind of harmonization. It may be that for different types of decisions, different MDCA methods are more appropriate. However, since all methods are relatively new, we can expect that each one can be improved. In this workshop, in addition to sharing best practices, we hope to identify the “must have” features of different types of analyses. While a long-term goal is to create a standard methodology, it will likely take a number of years before these evolving methodologies are ready for that step.


To achieve these goals, designers and practitioners actually using these various MDCA methods will be invited to the workshop to present the methodologies they have been using, the strengths and weaknesses around these methods, and what types of assessment their method is good for. Methods under consideration include:

  • Total Cost Assessment (AIChE)
  • Sustainable Return on Investment (HDR)
  • Sustainability Return on Investment (EarthShift)
  • Social Return on Investment (The SROI Network)
  • True Cost (TruCost)
  • Life Cycle Valuation Assessment (The Pembina Institute)
  • MAUT MCDA (Academia and the EPA)
  • AHP MCDA (Academia)
  • Outranking MCDA (Academia)

Only practitioners who have actually performed these types of analyses will be invited to keep a real world perspective—on the order of 25 participants.

The next step will be an attempt to categorize different types of analyses and which features are most important for each. Depending upon how far the workshop progresses, there may be a guidance document or journal article that comes out of the workshop.


Location: Portsmouth, NH, USA ( 1 hour from Boston, connected by the C&J buslines, 1 hour from both Manchester, NH and Portland, ME)

Duration: 2 days

Timing: April 29 & 30, 2014

Preliminary Agenda:

Day 1:

Ice breaker


Introduction to each methodology (45 minutes each): How it’s done, example, strengths, weaknesses, ideal applications

Group discussion: What types of decisions should we be addressing?

Group discussion: What are the methodology/tool requirements for each type of decision?

Group dinner

Day 2:

Breakout discussion: Are there methodologies that already address the needs for a particular decision? If not, can we take the best from different methodologies and combine them?

Group discussion: What was the result of the breakout sessions?

Group discussion: What did we learn?

Group discussion: Where do we go from here?


We will be funding the workshop through crowdfunding. Using, we will request the minimum to hold the workshop with a maximum that would allow us to bring in several MCDA experts from overseas. This will allow us to move forward even with the minimum funding.

Learn more and Donate here , 

Thanks to the AIChE Institute for Sustainability (IFS) for their generous support and contribution of $2000 to this campaign!