Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1299–1309 | Cite as

Investigating the role of smartness for sustainability: insights from the Smart Grid domain

  • Francesco Caputo
  • Barbora Buhnova
  • Leonard Walletzký
Special Feature: Original Article People, Technology and Governance for Sustainability: The Contribution of Systems and Cyber-systemic Thinking
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: People, Technology and Governance for Sustainability: The Contribution of Systems and Cyber-systemic Thinking


Over the past decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) established themselves as the key force towards more effective and efficient usage of resources in our society, namely via better use of available information, automation, stakeholder involvement, and decision support. By analyzing recent advancements in knowledge offered by ICT, it is possible to identify their strong correlation with the principles, aims, and interests of sustainability science, which can be highly inspired by ICT-intensive domains. In this paper, we study the theoretical background on system thinking as an interpretative lens able to support better understanding of dimensions and dynamics involved in the domain of sustainability, and examine the role of ICT in advancing sustainability goals. Then, we analyze the domain of the Smart Grid as a prominent example of complex technological contribution in face of the challenges of sustainability, and present the insights from this domain, which are turned into sustainability guidelines for other domains, linking smartness, and sustainability in the light of systems thinking and Smart Grid experience. In summary, the core recommendation of this work is the employment of information technology to widen the scope of the sustainability “game” by sliding activities in time and space, and in engaging more “players” in the game, which is now made possible thanks to the advancement in ICT.


Smartness Information and Communication Technology Sustainability Smart Grid Systems thinking 



This work has not been financially supported from any grant project that would support the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PharmacyUniversity of SalernoFiscianoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Computer Systems and CommunicationMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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