Thursday, March 5, 2009


Sustainability is big these days, but what is it really. I don't think there is one definition that encompasses all aspects of sustainability, but here is the short of it. I work with architects, I hear the word sustainable everyday. Green roofs, green jobs, green drinks, these are the words being thrown around.

"All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse." - Benjamin Franklin

Sustainability means that a building, structure, or piece of land is resource neutral. This resource neutral area harnesses its power from a renewable source like the sun, wind, or heat from the earth; it will utilize the land around the sustainable area to use and re-use rainwater; all requiring minimal processing the resources required by the occupants of the building.

Buildings may not be totally sustainable, but all around us, architects, contractors and builders are improving the efficiency of the areas around them to become more sustainable. I love this. I am working towards a sustainable home. My wife and I will be putting in a rain barrel to help water our garden, and we have already been utilizing our Geo-Thermal HVAC system. I believe that I have the responsibility to take good care of the earth that God has given us and I also see a long-term economic value that is added through sustainable, green, initiatives.

I want to propose a new kind of sustainability. Economic sustainability.

Actually, the best parts of environmental sustainability are that they promote economic sustainability, but the finances of our country are on a path to failure. When will that failure come?

I believe that to achieve financial sustainability, I must be able to use less than I acquire. If WE are going to sustain anything, WE must be able to use less than we obtain. If improvement means that we lessen our dependance on resources out of our control, then we must work to depend on less. Isn't it ironic that our government is preaching and pushing environmentally sustainable projects onto us, while at the same time they create an economically sustainable plan.

If our environment is being threatened by using resources that are running out quickly, how can using money we don't have, take out loans we can't pay, and expect our financial situation to improve?

How long can it last? I don't know the answer to that question, but I can guarantee you that it CANNOT last forever. The time for passing the agendas of the elected must come to an end. Our leaders must be held accountable. Contact them, ask them to explain every action they are taking. They answer to you. You need to know if you agree or disagree with each of your elected officials. This is not a task for a political party or ideal, this is a task for everyone. When standing around the water cooler, or sitting at the dinner table, we must discuss the issues that matter. The irresponsibility of our government matters.


  1. I just have to go off on an environmental rant, even though it has nothing to do with economic sustainability, rather environmental sustainability. I will try my best to explain clearly.

    A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a meeting to implement a new recycling program in our building. Last week, we officially started a this new program: our desk trash cans no longer have plastic liners and we put our "dry" recycling in them since 90% of what we throw away can be recycled. We take all of our food and un-recyclables to the kitchen where there is one big can with ONE liner used per day. Well some people decided that it was too much work to take trash to the kitchen and now the whole company has liners in their trash cans again so that a few can conveniently throw away a couple kleexes or banana peels without having to take them to the kitchen. The janitors put new liners in the cans every night, regardless of the amount of trash in them. I don’t know why, but they do. So now, a whole plastic liner is wasted EVERY DAY at every desk for a couple kleenexes and banana peels. I refused to have a liner in my trash can. This is so wasteful and stupid and my blood is boiling over the laziness of only a couple stubborn co-workers. Sorry to use your comment section for my rant. :D I can't really blog about it since my co-workers read my blog.

    I'm glad you and Jaime implemented "green" features into your house. Not only does it help the environment, but it cuts your bills as well!

  2. We implemented the same trash approach at work last month. Regardless of the which way you lean environmentally, it's a shame they didn't let people get used to it for a while before deciding.

  3. And really you can't have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability to the extent that the economy depends on the consumption of material goods. I'm not sure economic sustainability is possible in a capitalist economy where earning a profit is the ultimate goal, perhaps if we redefine "profit" and what constitutes economic growth. I've read about economists who are trying to quantify intangibles -- like the economic benefits provided by stay-at-home moms etc.

  4. Samantha, long time no see. Hope all is well in NY.

    I would go further than your first sentence and say that you can't have sustainability in any area if the economy is not stable, and sustainable; the economy fuels everything. I do want you to clarify what you mean in your second sentence though. I would propose that economic sustainability is ONLY possible within a capitalistic system, but you say the opposite. I would love to know why. Of course I may be a dunce and am totally missing the point of what you are trying to say. Without capitalism, the incentive to work is zero. How would that affect the intangibles that you are hearing about?