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The official sustainability definition.

Postby Alerick » March 25th, 2009, 4:24 pm


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Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

1987 at the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission)

"There are many ways to measure or define sustainability. As described in the book Natural Capitalism, in business, these should include the sustainable development and use of, at least, the following four types of capital:

Financial Capital
Manufacturing Capital
Natural Capital
Human Capital
In addition, many organizations use the following criteria to assess sustainable products, services, and other activities:

Social Criteria:


Socially desirable
Culturally acceptable
Psychologically nurturing

Financial Criteria:


Economically sustainable
Technologically feasible
Operationally viable

Environmental Criteria:


Environmentally Robust
Generationally Sensitive
Capable of continuous learning"

The definition and criteria is all quite open. This allows for open concept generation.


RECYCLABLE MATERIALS ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE! because materials that are recycled are going to end up in the trash it will just be a little further in the product life-cycle.

Re: The official sustainability definition.

Postby iab » March 25th, 2009, 4:52 pm


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Alerick wrote:The definition and criteria is all quite open. This allows for open concept generation.


Either I'm confused or just plain stupid, but by keeping the definition of sustainability that open I think I can make the case a Hummer is sustainable. I need clearer metrics.

Wouldn't a simple objective be to reduce the resources needed in the next generation of product? I don't know if that reaches the final goal in one step but certainly it makes the product more sustainable.

Postby Alerick » March 26th, 2009, 10:05 am


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Either I'm confused or just plain stupid, but by keeping the definition of sustainability that open I think I can make the case a Hummer is sustainable. I need clearer metrics.


I don't see how you could make a case for the Hummer. If you did I am sure that a larger case against it could be easily brought up.

Postby iab » March 26th, 2009, 11:11 am


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Alerick wrote:I don't see how you could make a case for the Hummer. If you did I am sure that a larger case against it could be easily brought up.


That is exactly my point. Your definition leads to a subjective pissing match. You have no objective criteria to measure success.

Postby Alerick » March 26th, 2009, 2:01 pm


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Not at all. The guidelines are simply develop things that can help socially
i.e. http://www.bamboobike.org/Home.html, environmentally (products that are not harmful in their production, use, and end cycle)....

the reason why there is no objective criteria is because it stops the thinking of new processes and ideas. LEED buildings are great but architects that are trying to meet the standards seem to just add things that are from the list to become certified. There is a loss of innovation.

do you think blasting a mountain, higher local instances of asthma, heavy transportation costs, mercury stricken local waters, blocked creeks, toxic sludge ponds, and high production of greenhouse gases sustainable?

Postby iab » March 26th, 2009, 3:07 pm


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Yes, to some degree all of those things are sustainable. I don't know to what degree, that is why I am requesting a definition.

Wanting those things to completely stop is unreasonable and ridiculous. Without an objective definition it is impossible to create a plan or a timeline. Saying something is "bad" and should be stopped will only create backlash and nothing will get done.

So again, what is currently unsustainable, how do you define the unsustainable levels, what kind of reductions are necessary to fall into a sustainable catagory and what kind of priorities are you willing to trade-off?

Postby Alerick » March 27th, 2009, 7:56 am


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Isee your point. Right now noone has sat down and built a product or process grading sheet like LEED has for buildings. If there was I would definitely want to be a part of it.


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