What is sustainability?

While putting together this issue, I continually ran across references to the words Triple Bottom Line. Now this isn’t surprising considering the focus of our magazine is assisting you with your sustainable construction efforts. However, after the continual reference to these exact words “Triple Bottom Line” — I took this as a sign to revisit the true meaning of sustainability.

Sustainability and “going green” are used synony-mously today, but they have very different meanings. The green movement (and “going green”) focuses on environmental awareness and how to reduce carbon footprint. Sustainability does include an element of environmental impact, but it is also so much more.

Building sustainably means enabling economic growth through infrastructure development that uses natural resources efficiently, minimizes environmental impact and enhances the quality of life for individuals and communities. (Refer to the interactive diagram at right.)

This means leveraging resources, including technology and innovation, to:

  • Minimize the use of energy, materials, water and land
  • Promote and protect individual safety and well-being
  • Provide employment, education and training on sustainability
  • Maximize recycling
  • Minimize emissions
  • Optimize the use of renewable resources

Sustainability doesn’t focus on one element (environmental, society and the economy); rather it includes ALL these elements ... for a truly balanced Triple Bottom Line.

Check out the contractors and companies featured in this issue. They are excellent representations of companies that not only embrace, but also practice, sustainability.