1. Capable of being maintained at length without interruption, weakening, or loss in power or quality.
2. Of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
Sustainability can be an integral part of an organization’s strategic plan by providing a framework for continuous quality improvement. Sustainability is a word that has often been politicized, thought of as a passing fad, relegated to the far left and under-rated as a fundamental underpinning in Christianity, the business environment, and in our local communities.
Sustainability, being less a product than a process, can be explained through the understanding of the interconnections by which our day-to-day choices affect the intricate balance of social, economic and ecological systems. By constantly striving to make decisions that are environmentally, fiscally, and socially sound, sustainability challenges organizations, in the words of its mission and Judeo-Christian heritage. In the business world, this “triple bottom line” for sustainability strategies encompasses outcomes that are socially just, environmentally responsible and economically sound.
Environmental Sustainability Defined
A common definition of sustainable environmental stewardship includes those concepts, strategies, tools, practices, and approaches that lead to environmental improvement in a manner that is sustainable over time, considers the long term effects as well as the shorter term, more immediate effects, and that contributes positively, even if indirectly, to the social and economic condition.
Adam and Eve's call to share in the unfolding of God's plan of creation brought into play those abilities and gifts which distinguish the human being from all other creatures. At the same time, their call established a fixed relationship between mankind and the rest of creation. Made in the image and likeness of God, Adam and Eve were to have exercised their dominion over the earth (Gen 1:28) with wisdom and love. Instead, they destroyed the existing harmony by deliberately going against the Creator's plan, that is, by choosing to sin. This resulted not only in man's alienation from himself, in death and fratricide, but also in the earth's "rebellion" against him (cf. Gen 3:17-19; 4:12). All of creation became subject to futility, waiting in a mysterious way to be set free and to obtain a glorious liberty together with all the children of God (cf. Rom 8:20-21).
Christians believe that the Death and Resurrection of Christ accomplished the work of reconciling humanity to the Father, who "was pleased ... through (Christ) to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross" ( Col 1:19-20). Creation was thus made new (cf. Rev 21:5). Once subjected to the bondage of sin and decay (cf. Rom 8:21 ), it has now received new life while "we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pt 3:13). Thus, the Father "has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery . . . which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, all things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1:9-10).
What if.. A Vision of Sustainability in Retirement Communities
Because the Retirement community is a microcosm of the larger community, the manner in which it carries out its daily activities is an important demonstration of ways to achieve environmentally responsible living and to reinforce desired values and behaviors in the whole community. This would include an analysis of the full impact of the throughput of resources and energy at the community, the life cycle impact of all the operations and would embrace a strategy for developing indicators to measure the impact and process in making changes to move to the positive. This will necessarily lead to discussions of issues like energy and water consumptions, recycling, green buildings, transportation of people and goods to and from the campus sustainably preferable purchasing, etc. Transparency is important here. We need new indicators of movement towards sustainability and institutional success because we measure what we value and manage what we measure. As always, the role of senior management and operations and connecting these efforts back to employee education, research, and action are critical.
What if Senior Retirement Campuses were to take a leadership role, & would operate as a fully integrated community that models social and biological sustainability itself and in interdependence with local, regional, and global community. In many cases, one thinks of health services, supportive care, operations, and relations with local communities as separate activities: they are not. The process of education will emphasize active, experimental, inquiry-based learning and real-world problem solving on the campus and in the larger community, including government and industry. & A campus would Practice what it preaches and make sustainability an integral part of operations, planning, facility design, purchasing and investments, and tie these efforts to a formal educational experience.Adapted from: Integrating Sustainability in the Learning Community , by Anthony D.Cortese, Sc.D., APPA' s Facility Manager, Vol. 21, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2005.
- Sodexo Senior Services
- Caring Communities
- Hamlin Capital Management
- Presbyterian Foundation