“The New Sustainable Frontier: Principles of Sustainable Development” (2009)
The New Ecological Economic Paradigm
TO OPERATE SUSTAINABLY:
1. LOOK FOR AN ALTERNATIVE to consuming additional natural resources and generating greenhouse gases, by asking:
a. How can we support operations efficiently, and with just distribution of resources, while reducing the Government’s ecological footprint?
b. Are we using existing stocks?
c. Can we use a service instead of owning this product?
d. Can we reuse and an existing facility rather than building a new one?
2. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING, when there is no alternative to consumption. Make sure that the acquisition is consistent with the Government’s environmental and social goals by asking:
a. WHO MADE IT? Does its production and use allow all to live with respect?
b. WHAT’S IN IT? Is there a third party assessment of contents available to help us make informed decisions, such as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) or ASTM International “Sustainability Assessment of Building Products”?
c. HOW DOES ITS PRODUCTION AND USE AFFECT THE EARTH’S CRITICAL ECOSYSTEMS?
i. Are public goods, like clean air and water, being exploited?
ii. Is use of energy and water, and generation of toxics, wastes and greenhouse gases minimized?
iii. Is use of virgin materials minimized and use of recycled materials maximized?
iv. Can it be recycled rather than “down-cycled”?
v. Is there environmental accountability along the product supply chain?
vi. Are the local context and conditions appropriately addressed when we build facilities?
d. WHERE DOES IT GO WHEN IT IS NO LONGER NEEDED?
i. Is there a complete life cycle plan?
ii. Is it designed for deconstruction?
3. SHARE THE GOVERNMENT’S VISION FOR SUSTAINABILITY WITH SUPPLIERS, AND FAVOR THOSE THAT SUPPORT THAT VISION.
If our goal is a sustainably operating government, we can’t rely just on policies and regulations to get us there; we need to change the way we think about our world.
“Every last one of us is part of the web of life. Every one of us. And we have a decision to make while we’re here in our very brief visit to this beautiful blue planet, we can either hurt it, or we can help it. It’s that simple. And it is every human being’s choice.”
Anderson, Ray, from “The Journey To Sustainability: A Conversation With Ray Anderson,” GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy, August 14, 2002, Washington DC (Transcript), available at www.gsa.gov/sustainabledevelopment
GSA Office of Governmentwide Policy
Office of Real Property Management
U.S. General Services Administration
1800 F Street, NW
via GSA – Sustainable Development.