(Flickr photo, "Orange Architecture" by Jeremy Pullen)
Host Intro: Green has become the buzzword for products that are earth-friendly. When we talk about having a low impact on the environment we are usually talking about Green living. But going Green is just the beginning. Sueann Ramella reports on the differences between Green and Sustainable living in our series, Our Northwest. Listen here.
Sueann Ramella: Ten years ago, finding products that were earth friendly in your favorite department store was difficult. But now you can find green detergents, toys, clothing and building materials at Walmart or Home Depot. It’s easier to go green, but it’s not just about the choices you make at the market. What many are striving for is sustainability, which is a huge topic, but can be made simple by thinking about the triple bottom line.
Michael Wolcott is the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Design at Washington State University.
Mike Wolcott: When you look at sustainable development - that thought has grown away from just looking at the environment to looking at what is called the ‘triple bottom line’ and that is the three major components society needs to move forward: Environmental quality, economic efficiency and social justice.
Ramella: Think planet, people and prosperity. It seems hard to imagine that prosperity is a component of sustainable living. After all those seeking profit may have done the most damage to the environment. But Wolcott suggests thinking of it as affordability.
And that is what the developers of Green Acres, a new housing development in Moscow, Idaho had in mind when they built green homes, and partnered with a local financial institution to offer down payment assistance.
Rick Beebe is the developer of Green Acres and created the neighborhood with young work force families in mind.
Beebe: If we give them a place to live that is green built so that it is as inexpensive as it possibly can be as far as energy use is concern, then it is an attractive item for a young family to have. So that keeps these young workforce people that we need in the community, in the community.
Ramella: Beebe acknowledges that as a developer he needs to make a living. But in the process he says he is giving back to the community by building green homes and making them affordable.
Beebe: Quite honestly, we do need to make a profit. We invest millions of our dollars. But profit is motivated by lots of different sources. In our minds it is an investment and enrichment of the community rather than dollars and cents.
And according to Mike Wolcott that’s a part of the sustainability movement.
Wolcott: We just don’t look at the environment, the environment is really important for society. Obviously, if we destroy our environment society can’t function simply, but if we can’t make it economic and affordable so that businesses can run and it supports our economy then our society falls apart also.
The people part of the triple bottom line may sound like a snapshot of the1950s with open porches, knowing your neighbor and having a grocery store around the block. But instead of looking back in time, Wolcott says it’s about looking ahead.
Wolcott: Sustainability is actually a very forward looking concept and that means into the future. In some ways some of the practices and tenants are things we practiced in the past and somehow got away from, but I think in many ways we have to look to the future and see how society is changing and that means new ideas and new concepts.
For more information on sustainable living and green development, visit nwpr.org and click on Our Northwest. I’m Sueann Ramella.