Decision making for Sustainability

The word 'sustainable' is used in many different contexts. Sustainable development, as defined by the Brundtland Commission (1987) is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". There are a couple of models that we use for the management and decision making of Green Swing projects.

The Natural Step

While there are a lot of different definitions and descriptions on what sustainability means, The Natural Step have developed a scientifically robust model that helps organisations make pragmatic decisions to move towards sustainability. Part of the model are four sustainability principles; to become a sustainable society we must eliminate our contributions to:

  • the systematic increase of concentrations of substances extracted from the earth's crust (for example, heavy metals and fossil fuels);
  • the systematic increase of concentrations of substances produced by society (for example, plastics, dioxins, PCBs and DDT);
  • the systematic physical degradation of nature and natural processes (for example, over harvesting forests, destroying habitat and overfishing); and
  • conditions that systematically undermine people's capacity to meet their basic human needs (for example, unsafe working conditions and not enough pay to live on).

image by The Natural Step

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

Another concept that we use in our decision making process is the well known "Reduce, Re-use and Recycle". And then of course there are factors such as durability, embodied energy, performance and cost that need to be taken into account when making decisions.

We know we cannot be perfect. As soon we start there will be an impact: on the environment (consuming/transporting materials) and on the community and neighbours (shading, noise, etc). However, we try to consider all aspects of sustainability and make the best choice for the long term. This means considering longevity & embodied energy of materials, biodegradability, renewable materials, performance, waste, cost, transport, as well as social, health and safety aspects. For us it is important to have a long term vision and make small steps right now to move towards a sustainable community.

Sustainability aspects:

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

[Ghandi]