I am feeling inspired with all the attention given to environmental concerns these days, especially the growing interest in green homes. But it worries me that we still have a long way to go. There is a lot of confusion and hype out there about what it means to be green. Part of it has to do with the lack of commonly accepted definitions to some of the more basic terms we are using.
For example, the word 'sustainability' is often used interchangably with the word 'green'--big mistake! An innocent one indeed, but a mistake nonetheless.
Sustainability is multidimensional in that it necessarily includes social and economic value dimensions in addition to environmental value dimensions. To establish and maintain sustainability within any aspect of life one must consider all three value dimensions simultaneously. To give attention to one without giving attention to the other may potentially compromise the system as a whole which may then inhibit any potential for sustainability.
Now, having said that, there is certianly nothing wrong with focusing on one value dimension provided it does not come at the expense of another. Green, for example, is primarily thought of as an environmental concern. It is very easy to get caught up in that way of thinking and to forget that there are also social and economic aspects of green.
Green homes are a perfect example:
- Social value: healthier home environments leads to healthier people which leads to healthier communities
- Economic value: lower operating costs, greater home value, longer economic value lifecycle
- Environmental value: less pollution, energy efficient and better use of natural resources.
The 'old school' of business focused almost exclusively on economic value. As time passed social values began to come more into play. In the last 20 years environmental values have come more to the front lines.
Now is the time to integrate all three values and to begin to move toward achieving a sustainable lifestyle. Education is a key ingredient. Education at all levels including family, community, regional, statewide and Federal. In the workplace and at home--everywhere!
The quicker we can learn that sustainability is 'not' an option, the better off we will all be. And the more likely it is that there will be something left for the children of the children of the children to enjoy.
If you are interested in this post I would love to hear your comments and feedback.