Sustainability is a holistic concept centered around meeting current community needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability is much broader than most people think, including not only environmental needs but also the economic and social needs of a community. From the local government perspective, sustainability is achieved when “the three e’s” are balanced.
- The environmental component of sustainability includes ecosystem restoration and habitat preservation (both terrestrial and aquatic), water conservation, and green house gas emissions reductions.
- The equity (social) component of sustainability aims to optimize the quality of life for community residents and includes social equity, livability, community health and safety, affordable housing, and cultural diversity.
- Finally, the economic component of sustainability includes workforce development, economic opportunity, and sustainable business practices.
Sustainability is in essence about efficiency, prioritizing ways to efficiently use resources, enhance quality of life and promote economic viability for future generations. Often analogized as a three-legged stool, sustainability cannot be achieved without careful consideration of each “leg” of the stool. When one “leg” of the stool is eliminated or underachieved, the balance of the stool – sustainability – is lost. Woven into the social concept of sustainability is the need to adapt to changing conditions to ensure the health of community residents.