What is Sustainability?

The United States Environmental protection Agency (EPA) defines Sustainability as the call for policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) formally established as a national goal the creation and maintenance of conditions under which humans and nature “can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans” [emphasis added].

Perspectives on Business and Sustainability

Over the past 30 years, the concept of sustainability has evolved to reflect perspectives of both the public and private sectors.  A public policy perspective would define sustainability as the satisfaction of basic economic, social, and security needs now and in the future without undermining the natural resource base and environmental quality on which life depends. From a business perspective, the goal of sustainability is to increase long-term shareholder and social value, while decreasing industry’s use of materials and reducing negative impacts on the environment.

Common to both the public policy and business perspectives is recognition of the need to support a growing economy while reducing the social and economic costs of economic growth.  Sustainable development can be facilitated by policies that integrate environmental, economic, and social values in decision making. From a business perspective, sustainable development is accomplished by capturing system dynamics, building resilient and adaptive systems, anticipating and managing variability and risk, and earning a profit.

Sustainable development reflects not the trade-off between business and the environment but the synergy between them.

The Mid-Atlantic Sustainability Master Plan will be the enabling document for our Area to engage it’s employees in defining, developing, and delivering programs and projects that will make a positive impact on our environment, employees and customers.

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