Sustainability is a word that is thrown around loosely in many circles. It's a critically important concept but it's also becoming an instant marketing tool.
We believe in genuine sustainability. More than just the "greening" of materials and methods, we seek to explore the things that will make community viable within an environment that is at once natural and yet nearly universally affected by humans.
While sustainability will include some of the "green" things we are all coming to appreciate at the scale of building, it will necessarily include sustainable business practices, sustainable planning policies, and sustainable communities.
Some of these things existed as important parts of our culture within very recent memory. Localism, low energy usage, neighborhood-centric lives and even organic farming, were all important parts of our culture only 50 years ago.
We are wary of "Gizmo Green", the onslaught of marketing advising us to buy more in order to use less. While there are genuinely beneficial systems and materials emerging, we see the heart and soul of sustainability to rest largely within the choices we make about land use, about cities, neighborhoods and, most important of all, Localization. We believe Sustainable Planning will far outweigh Gizmo Green in solving the present problem.
Additionally we see durability as critical component of genuine sustainability. Building for the long term, imagining life cycles of hundreds (or thousands) of years, informs choices that reduce embedded resources and energy when the dimension of time is properly considered.
Durability of place can generate durability of culture, a critical piece of genuine sustainability. Because it will be culture (rather than Madison Avenue) that becomes the keeper of community, localism and living traditions that are necessary to retain viable places.
Most importantly, sustainability means walking lightly. It means using less of many of the resources we now use. Rather than seeking technological means to replicate a currently unsustainable lifestyle, we should be inventing (and re-discovering) elements of new lifestyles that offer genuine sustainability without increasing the industrial component of modern lives.
We need to find ways to make smaller chic. We need to find ways to make using less a status issue. We need to make low impact lives the things we brag about.