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Sustainability is a word that has been devalued by market forces and pretenders.  It’s a critically important concept but it’s  become little more than a marketing tool.

We believe in genuine sustainability. More than just the “greening” of materials and methods, we seek to explore the things that will make community viable within an environment that is at once natural and yet nearly universally affected by humans.

While genuine sustainability will always include some of the “green” technologies that are being heavily marketed at every level of commerce, it will necessarily include sustainable business practices, sustainable planning policies, and sustainable communities.

Ultimately it will depend on sustainable economies and little else.

Some of these things existed as important parts of our culture within very recent memory.

Localism, energy frugality, neighborhood-based lifestyles and even organic farming, were all important parts of our culture only 75 years ago.

We have always been skeptical of the fundamental laziness of  “Gizmo Green.” Simply strapping devices on otherwise traditional forms allows us to believe we are changing without really changing. It is a marketing scam that encourages us to buy more in order to save. But the gizmos rarely offer substantial energy savings, especially when modeled over the service life of a project. Gizmos break. They are often fragile and fail physically in short order. More important, they fail culturally because, like all trends, our primary fascination is not with how good they might be but how new they might be.

The energy savings that might be delivered by a full suite of the latest gizmos can also be achieved by using traditional forms in smaller buildings. A 6000 square foot house can be made efficient by applying all sorts of “smart” technology. The same can be achieved by making it 3000 square feet. If well planned a 3000 square foot house can serve all needs. And if you still apply some green tech, you come out even further ahead.

While there are genuinely beneficial systems and materials emerging, we see the heart and soul of sustainability to rest within the larger choices we make about land use, about cities, neighborhoods and, most important of all, Localization. We believe Sustainable Planning will far outweigh Gizmo Green in solving the present problem.

Additionally we see Durability as the most important component of genuine sustainability. Building for the long term, imagining life cycles of hundreds (or thousands) of years, informs choices that reduce embedded resources and energy when the dimension of time is properly considered.

Durability of place can generate durability of culture, a critical piece of genuine sustainability. Because it will be culture (rather than Madison Avenue) that becomes the keeper of community, localism and living traditions that are necessary to retain viable places.