Friday, September 09, 2005

The Natural Edge

The Natural Edge Project was established in November 2002 after over 3 years of part-time volunteer preparation by the secretariat members in order to assist individuals, business and government to achieve a natural edge, thus developing a synergy between the economic, social and environmental outcomes. The project seeks to assist in bringing together and developing robust frameworks, operational methodologies and best practice for sustainability.

The project is an ongoing, not-for-profit partnership driven by a growing team of Young Australians who receive mentoring and support from individuals ranging from professionals, public servants, business leaders and academics. The project receives strong support from organisations, groups, bodies, companies, agencies and institutions, both in Australia and Internationally.

The TNEP Working Group

This 'Working Group' consists of a select group of dedicated volunteer young professionals who are enthusiastic about making tangible efforts to achieving Sustainable Genuine Progress. In September 2004 an invitation was issued to join a internship team of 12 members to be coordinated by Nick Palousis, the TNEP Operations Coordinator with the following objectives.

Projects Office
Unit 6, 5 Barton Tce EastNorth Adelaide, SA, 5006Adelaide, Australia
+61 (0)8 8361 9827 (Phone/Fax)

Beyond the Triple Bottom Line: A New Standard for 21st Century Commerce

By William McDonough and Michael Braungart

The UN's Our Common Future, linked corporate resource efficiency to human and environmental health. Our conception of "Intelligent Products" provided a design strategy that recognized the interdependence of economy, ecology, and equity. And John Elkington's triple bottom line became a useful tool for measuring corporate performance against this trio of concerns.

"Reduce, reuse, recycle" is the new business mantra. And the triple bottom line is replacing purely economic metrics.

In practice, however, measuring performance at the bottom line tends to be a balancing act between economic value and environmental liabilities. For example, if the environmental impact of a profitable product has been minimized by a more efficient use of materials, its performance likely meets the triple bottom line. But if the material itself is unsafe, as is often the case, then efficient manufacturing is merely slowing down ecological destruction - a rather dispiriting measure of quality.

Globally sourced materials are rarely, if ever, assessed, so many "lean-thinking" U.S. companies are applying efficiency measures to toxic materials. The result: cheap products, expensive waste management systems, and rising health care costs - all of which add up to a very dull competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Why not a sustaining industrial system built on a new definition of quality? From our perspective, quality is embodied in designs that allow industry to enhance the well being of nature and culture while generating economic value. Ultimately, quality design follows the laws of nature to create products, processes and facilities so ecologically intelligent they leave footprints to delight in rather than lament. In these new human systems, materials become food for the soil or flow back to industry forever.

The triple top line's positive aspirations often begin in one sector and end up generating value in many others.

By 2012 we hope to see millions of designs such as these celebrating life in diverse and wonderful ways and creating a world in which all children are nourished with fresh healthy food, affordable health care, and a generous prosperity that honors the laws of nature. Instead of a world of laments, a world full of hope for the future and respect for the Earth's abundant gifts.

'Green' Sounds Great -- But Is It Affordable?

Neal Peirce:

But -- are green buildings economic enough to build? The popular notion has been "no"- By contrast, Charles Lockwood, architectural critic and author, recently e-mailed me: "The 'green is too expensive' myth is no longer true."

One is the Toyota Motor Sales campus near Los Angeles, a 624,000-square- foot facility that was built with costs competitive with other Southern California office parks. It's received a gold LEED rating. Solar power meets 20 percent of the building's energy needs. Building materials are 50 percent recycled, nearly all employees work under natural daylight, and the site is equipped with low-maintenance landscaping, including drought-tolerant native plants irrigated with recycled water.

And that's no exception, asserts Dan Heinfeld, president of LPA Inc., second largest architectural firm in California and designer of the Toyota project. Whether new buildings or renovations, he asserts, "projects can be sustainable and constructed on standard, cost-efficient budgets." His firm, Heinfeld asserts, has "designed literally dozens" of such buildings in California.

The California State and Consumer Services Agency, in a study of 33 green buildings, concluded that their construction costs are slightly more expensive -- $3 to $5 a square foot, or 2 percent -- than conventional structures.

But a big difference emerged when the agency factored in reduced costs for energy, water and waste-disposal, plus enhanced employee health and productivity. The estimate: $50 to $75 per square foot savings over the average 20-year life of a building -- more than 10 times the 2 percent cost premium for green buildings.