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Sustainability and its Economic Functions

What is sustainability or something that is sustainable?

While there are many definitions, the two seem most relevant are:

1. From New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development:


A movement towards redesigning the ways society’s needs and wants are met so that they can be accommodated within the long-term carrying capacity of the environment.

2.  From


Able to be continued indefinitely without a significant negative impact on the environment or its inhabitants.

The concept of sustainability has become very popular over the last few years, especially since global warming and climate change have become such a hot-topic issue.  Not only has the media grasped onto the idea, the concept of sustainability and “going green” has become a capitalistic phenomenon.

In an article from The Harvard Business Review, Nidulu, Prahalad, and Rangaswami say in “Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation” that, “Sustainability isn’t the burden on bottom lines that many executives believe it to be.  In fact, becoming environment-friendly can lower your costs and increase your revenues.”

In a New York Times article titled “Debating Sustainability,” Alice Rawsthorn questions, “ How can the rest of us be expected to measure the sustainable impact of the things we buy? And how can we be confident about the way in which they were designed, manufactured, shipped, and will eventually be disposed of?”

She brings this up because in order to be sustainable, everyone must be sustainable.  It is a process that will only work if adhered to by all.

In something more close to home, The Greenville News article titled “New GSP airport terminal to be energy efficient” talks about how “ the building was designed to incorporate sustainability features, including large glass windows, which allow the building to be lit by daylight and improve productivity of employees.”

This article shows the growth of sustainability and the impact it has on us locally.

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