Sustainability is a word you hear a lot these days. Unfortunately, "sustainable" is too often used to obscure our unsustainable consumption habits. In the design and construction industry you hear buzz around "sustainable" products: solar is hot; bamboo was hot; spray-foam insulation, low-VOC paints... the list goes on. So how do you navigate the market? Think about what sustainabity means to you, let your ideals be your compass and then choose a partner that is engaged beyond the confines of the industry, is abreast of the research, and clearly trying to make a better future.
What does sustainability mean to us? We think of it both technically and as an ideal:
John Sterman, Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group sums up the technical view: "A sustainable society cannot consume renewable resources faster than they regenerate, cannot spew wastes into the environment faster than they break down and are rendered harmless and, in the long run, cannot rely on nonrenewable resources at all."
And John Ehrenfeld, former Director of the MIT Program on Technology, Business, and Environment, provides an underlying ideal to help guide us when the technical results are beyond our reach: "Sustainability is the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on Earth forever." A footnote to this definition is also useful to keep in mind "Reducing unsustainability, although critical, will not create sustainability."
We think a lot about sustainability and how to make it a sincere and meaningful part of our everyday business. We don't always succeed, but we continue to learn, engage, think and improve. Take a few moments to see what we're doing... you may find ideas you can build on.