The word Sustainability is often pronounced these days but doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning for everyone.
At its simplest, to sustain means to maintain something, but what? The environment? Or the human race? Well, both really. You can’t really have a human race without a proper environment. Also, humans can’t aspire to better conditions without economic development which naturally impacts the environment. There is a combination “We have to use resources wisely” and “we have to sustain a bigger and bigger population”.
Here is the the most widely accepted definition, from 1987 Bruntland report (presented at the request of the United Nations): “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Thankfully, in recent years, society in general has come to understand the value of sustainability. To the point where it has become an economic motor of sorts. As stricter and stricter environmental regulations are being imposed on various industries to protect the environment, there has been a surge of companies providing innovative products that help other companies meet those regulations. Think of how stricter vehicle emission standards have stimulated the sales of hybrid or fully electric cars.
The wood industry already has sustainability built into it. Wood helps sustain the environment because before it is cut down, a tree will spend its life absorbing CO2. Engineered wood takes it a step further by primarily using wood that would have otherwise been thrown away in the process of creating lumber.
But every industry has its hurdles on the way to sustainability. For example, in residential construction government building codes have improved provisions for environmental practices, but these can conflict with municipal zoning laws or homeowner association rules. Putting a solar panel on one’s roof for example, could be considered unacceptable to a homeowners’ association because it’s ugly. But that’s in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?
But such hurdles will eventually be overcome because public opinion will exercise itself through those who are elected to represent it.
Likewise, companies that integrate sustainable materials and practices will be the ones that will ensure their own ‘’Sustainability”