Listen folks, some of you I have known for 20 years, some of you I have not had the pleasure of meeting in person yet….But if you are reading this blog you know that I am a straight shooter. Raised by two New Yorkers, I cut to the chase and, like it or not, I am usually within the ballpark of ‘the truth’.
THE TRUTH is as evasive as SUSTAINABILITY. Let’s tackle both for a moment. The truth is that thing that when said or done it feels “ok” in your body. Bullshit is that thing that when said or done feels like crap in your body. You know that twinging, nauseous, maybe even spinning feeling? Yeah, that’s bullshit. But when we speak the truth or act out of integrity it feels good, uplifting, calm, centered, even relaxing. I have a good pal who says, “Telling the truth is like paying cash…there are no strings attached”.
Sustainability does not evoke exactly the same body awareness as TRUTH and BULLSHIT. But in a refined body and mind one can tell what is a good idea and what is an idea that might snap back to haunt them.
The building industry is a great, tangible example of this. In the early to mid 90s a new rash of building happened in the US to make way for an increased population, to create inventory for the brave/ill informed and the dot-commers who wanted second homes or rental properties, and to “boost” the US economy (low interest rates, adjustable rate mortgages, watch ”Inside Job”). This was the start of the “everyone can invest in real estate and make money” trend. Which failed miserably for most, including many of my smart, hard working friends and colleagues, and myself.
Anyway, in 1998 the official LEED program and certification began to pick up momentum (it started inside of the NRDC in 1993). LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. However in the building boom that happened, it was often all about speed and low cost. LEED was viewed as an elitist program and the average builder did not care about it. As a result, homes got built all over our country, in fact communities got build almost overnight….but guess what?…no one bought them, no one lived in them, and they were built poorly. They are now rotting, infested with bugs and mold and neglect. FAST is not always better. MORE is not always a good idea. GROWTH is not always sustainable.
Fourteen years later, the LEED program has infiltrated communities, state government conversations, colleges / trade schools, the AIA, and contractor’s minds nationwide. It took time, but now the real value of the LEED program is understood by the mass populace and it can be accessed and used accordingly.
This slow, steady, well thought out, committed path is the kind of path that every sustainable thought, invention, program, business concept can take. Most of our manufacturing and “service based” businesses can adopt sustainable business practices. It’s a matter of understanding the details, finding relevance for your industry/business/product/service, deciding on the sustainable (or triple bottom line) concepts and practices you want to adopt, and implementing them.
There are no shortcuts. Sustainable is our lifeboat and we might as well get comfy with the idea and chip away at it now so we do not fuck up other industries like we did the real estate market.