We’ve all heard the term ‘sustainability’ in the media and with an increasing number of industries ‘going green’, it is certainly a term we will be hearing a lot more often in the future. But what does ‘sustainability’ actually mean for business and the consumer? Recently, I asked Clare Cavanagh (pictured with her son), a researcher in sustainable planning and design at the University of Queensland, to explain ‘sustainability’ in terms of the costs and the benefits for us and for future generations of Australians.
Clare Cavanagh is passionate about her work and who could blame her when what she does for a living has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of so many people, including those not yet born. Clare and her colleagues work in a growing movement known as ‘sustainability’.
Clare is an Environmental Consultant and currently works as a researcher for Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre and University of Queensland.
In its simplest terms, “Sustainability means meeting the needs of now without compromising the needs of the future,” says Clare.
“Sustainability is an ideal, like peace. We want social, economic and environmental outcomes that ensure that we will have Enough for all, forever.”
“It is a different way of doing business,” says Clare. “We communicate with developers about what the objective may be and show them the savings that can be made from a sustainable development. If you do the planning and design correctly, you can also promote the fact that the development has been planned for longevity and sell the concept of longevity to the consumer.”
“If the developer does an economic analysis on the proposed energy or water models, and re-designs based on that analysis, they can try it out before building it. If the ‘latest’ technology is too expensive it is not encouraged because the development needs to be economically sustainable. The ‘latest’ doesn’t always fit and ‘old’ technology is often the best. But if the ‘latest’ does fit, the initial layout will often be payed back within five to seven years and then you’re way ahead.”
“Sustainability is the balance between social, economic and environmental quality. Sustainability needs to be fun, make money while keeping it green.”