Refrigeration transforms food systems. An integrated refrigerated supply chain, or “cold chain,” is connected with numerous sustainability outcomes: with energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from direct operation, but also from indirect effects on consumer diets and producer behavior. The transformative nature of this technology motivates examining expansions and innovations in the cold chain from a systems perspective, assessing both technical and behavioral effects. This dissertation contains studies assessing the potential greenhouse gas emissions outcomes of introducing the cold chain in a developing food system, modeling the most-effective emissions mitigation interventions for refrigerated supply chains, analyzing the effects of household refrigerator ownership on diets, and examining the changes to refrigerated food supply chains presented by meal kits and e-commerce.
Brent Heard is a PhD Candidate with the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. Brent’s research examines the sustainability implications of emerging technologies in the food system. He received a BS in Economics and Environmental Policy from Carnegie Mellon University and has worked as a Consultant and Sustainability Fellow for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Science and Technology for Sustainability Program.