There are many ways to look at sustainability. In particular, there are some defined and popular frameworks floating around the sustainability world. Some are geared more towards the evaluation of current products and services while others are more useful for design and development. Some are more quantitative and others more qualitative. The proponents of some will tell you that theirs is the best—or the only one worth using—and some even bad mouth other frameworks.
The truth is that none of the frameworks are really ideal and, together, the all describe a more complete view of sustainability. Some of the frameworks I cover, in depth, for the book include:
• Natural Capitalism
• Cradle to Cradle
• “Total Beauty”
• Natural Step
• Life Cycle Analysis
• Social Return on Investment
• Sustainability Helix
These are he most popular and useful frameworks I’ve found. Each offers a different, valuable perspective and, taken together, help developers better understand how to design more sustainably.
By no means are these the only approaches, however. There are some government and international standards (like the Global Reporting Initiative, ISO 14000, ISO 16000, and SA 8000) as well as some private rating systems for specific industries (like LEED and Pharos) and lots of smaller systems in place for specific SRIs (Socially Responsible Investment funds). These aren’t as helpful for designers, however, and once you understand the 8 or so I’ve outlined above, you’ve pretty much got a great view of the issues and interdependencies.
Is there a framework you’re curious about or value that isn’t listed above?
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