Sustainability & Business
Businesses have a profound effect on sustainability. Businesses are permitted to externalize many of the costs associated with producing, using, and disposing of their products, which means that the cost and damage is shared by everyone.
For example: Coal sells as a commodity at about $50/ton. Experts estimate that the extraction and burning of coal creates additional costs to society of over $200/ton.Coal and energy companies profit from the low price, while everyone else bears the costs, primarily in the form of environmental degradation, global warming, and impaired health.
(Other examples include difficult-to-recycle electronic devices and single-use containers & packaging.)
Here we focus on rethinking the ways we live and the ways society and its systems are structured. It includes approaches, perspectives, and philosophies that can empower our pursuit of sustainability, getting more specific about the frameworks for thinking and action given in the Finding Solutions part of the Think Globally section, namely, the models of change available to help us understand the various aspects of the problem we are facing and to help us move towards sustainability.
The change paradigms are a varied lot. Some focus on specific objectives, some are holistic. Some are weighted toward “taking action” strategies, some toward conceptualization, some are rather balanced in dealing with both theory and practice. They all can find expression in local, regional, national and/or world-wide actions. They all can inspire us and help us find the way.
Please contact us about models for change that you would like to see added to this listing.
This is where the danger lies. Unsustainable energy—fossil fuels and nuclear—are direct threats to future generations and public health hazards for current generations.
In August 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC] published a report called Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air…. Pennsylvania is #3 on the list of states with the most toxic pollution from energy generation — for both overall toxic air pollution and for mercury pollution!
Climate is something that affects us all. And because of global warming, we are faced with a climate crisis. We are already experiencing increasing occurrences of extreme weather, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are increasing at a rate that is likely to cause catastrophic changes in the future. We can mitigate the effects by reducing the use of fossil fuels—by reducing waste, relocalizing production, reducing the number of unnecessary vehicle trips, converting to more-efficient transportation, and converting to organic farming. And Climate Protection Agreements, commitments by governments and institutions to reduce GHG emissions and promote sustainable communities, are being written and signed.
In April 2014, the Bethlehem Area School District adopted a comprehensive Climate & Sustainability Commitment that covers academics, facilities & operations, and public engagement. [Other local climate protection agreements…→]
But systemic changes are needed.
If climate is one of your interests, we invite you to join the ClimateAction email group.
Note: This section reflects the Alliance’s goals, especially #1: Protect the natural environment on which our communities depend.
Below you will find articles pertaining to climate topics.
Green, or sustainable, building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. This section contains articles about green buildings initiatives and research.
Table of Contents Executive Summary Introduction Why a Sustainability Impact Assessment? What does Sustainability Mean? Types of Impacts Considered The Easton – Phillipsburg Area Impacts Building Design & Systems Transportation Food Educational Programming & Operations Construction Recommendations & Opportunities Building … more
Resources to complete a Sustainability Impact Assessment [In development – if you have questions now send an email to Peter Crownfield, coordinator for the sustainability impact assessment project.] DRAFT This list is provided as a starting point for others doing a … more
The recommendations take a holistic view to mitigate the challenges associated with the Da Vinci Science City and explore opportunities. Each recommendation indicates which of the five impact areas (climate, community, local economy, health, and environment). All recommendations are directed to the … more
A team of Alliance interns recently completed a preliminary sustainability impact assessment on a proposal to construct Da Vinci Science City (DVSC) in Easton. Prepared by: Olivia Barz (Lehigh ’19), Ryan Dougherty (Lafayette ’19), Harris Eisenhardt (SUNY–ESF ’19), Ashley Kushner (Lafayette ’19), … more
by Alyssa Fama Growing up, I always admired the beauty of nature and the world around me; blossoming flowers in the spring, the buzzing of insects during the summer, changing leaf colors in the fall and the silent snowfall in … more
The Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (‘LVAIC’) held its third valley-wide Campus Sustainability Conference in February. Keynote speaker Shana S. Weber, who directs the Office of Sustainability at Princeton University, kicked off the day with a talk on the … more
Four folks share some of their thoughts on this daunting matter. Dork Sahagian, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Lehigh University: Two things to consider in meeting the challenge: mitigation and adaptation. 1. Mitigation is what we need to … more
by Joyce Marin We are hearing a choir of voices around the world rising in urgency regarding Climate Action. Many people, especially young people, are gaining the courage to look at, inform themselves about, discuss and ask for Climate Action. … more
by Rebecca Canright As a student studying sustainability at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, I am encouraged by the recent research that Paul Hawken and his colleagues have conducted on the 100 most effective solutions to global warming. The … more