Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2009 09:18:58 -0400
Reply-To: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: Re: Environmental sustainability in labs? responses and resources

I received a wide response to my question about sustainability in  
labs; some around definitions, others pointing out web resources. The  

definitions responses are first and the web resources at the bottom.

Thanks for all for their response.

- Ralph

From: "Debbie M. Decker" 
Date: August 31, 2009 7:48:01 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Environmental sustainability in labs?- Friday  
Hilarity Ensues


I am reminded of a conversation I had with my cousin, who was the  
outreach coordinator for the Tillamook Bay Estuary project - if you  
don't think we had different ideas of what "sustainability" meant!  So  

I've been thinking about your question and poking around in my LEED,  
Labs21, UC Green Building Council Stuff.  And this is what I've come  
up with:

Sustainability means making decisions (business, social, personal,  
professional) that won't mess up the planet for those who come after us.

You could come up with a more colorful word than "mess" but this is a  

g-rated listserv.  ;-)

Debbie Decker
EH&S UCDavis
FAX (530)752-4527
Co-Conspirator to Make the World A
Better Place -- Visit and join the conspiracy

Birkett's hypothesis: "Any chemical reaction
that proceeds smoothly under normal conditions,
can proceed violently in the presence of an idiot."

From: awr_ara**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject:  Re: [DCHAS-L] Environmental sustainability in labs?- Friday  

Hilarity Ensues
Date: August 31, 2009 4:36:11 PM EDT

Before anyone can try to define sustainability, he, she or it must  
first understand unsustainability.  Perhaps those of you that are  
attempting to define sustainability in two sentences (I have not  
stopped laughing since hilarity ensued) may like to see:

1.    Global sustainability: Toward definition
Environmental Management
Springer New York
0364-152X (Print) 1432-1009 (Online)
Volume 11, Number 6 / November, 1987

   Becky J. Brown (1), Mark E. Hanson (1), Diana M. Liverman (1)   
and    Robert W. Merideth Jr. (1)
Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison,  

1007 WARF Building, 53705 Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Abstract:  Sustainability is increasingly viewed as a desired goal of  

development and environmental management. This term has been used in  
numerous disciplines and in a variety of contexts, ranging from the  
concept of maximum sustainable yield in forestry and fisheries  
management to the vision of a sustainable society with a steady-state  

economy. The meaning of the term is strongly dependent on the context  

in which it is applied and on whether its use is based on a social,  
economic, or ecological perspective, Sustainability may be defined  
broadly or narrowly, but a useful definition must specify explicitly  
the context as well as the temporal and spatial scales being  
considered. Although societies differ in their conceptualizations of  
sustainability, indefinite human survival on a global scale requires  
certain basic support systems, which can be maintained only with a  
healthy environment and a stable human population. A clearer  
understanding of global sustainability and the development of  
appropriate indicators of the status of basic support systems would  
provide a useful framework for policy making.
Key words  Global sustainability - Ecologically sustainable  
development - Sustainable use of the biosphere


2. Prosperity without Growth?
Sustainable Development Commission (SDC)
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
March 30, 2009
The economy is geared, above all, to economic growth. Economic policy  

in the current recession is all about returning to growth - but an  
economic crisis can be an opportunity for some basic rethinking and  
Two objectives other than growth - sustainability and wellbeing - 
moved up the political and policy-making agenda in recent years,  
challenging the overriding priority traditionally given to economic  

SDC's "Redefining Prosperity" project has looked into the connections  

and conflicts between sustainability, growth, and wellbeing.
As part of a two year programme of work, we commissioned thinkpieces,  

organised seminars, and invited feedback. This project has now  
resulted in a major SDC report: 'Prosperity without Growth?: the  
transition to a sustainable economy' by Professor Tim Jackson, SDC=92s  

Economics Commissioner. Prosperity without growth? analyses the  
relationship between growth and the growing environmental crisis and  
'social recession'. In the last quarter of a century, while the global  

economy has doubled, the increased in resource consumption has  
degraded an estimated 60% of the world=92s ecosystems. The benefits of  

growth have been distributed very unequally, with a fifth of the  
world=92s population sharing just 2% of global income. Even in developed 
countries, huge gaps remain in wealth and well-being between rich and  

While modernising production and reducing the impact of certain goods  

and services have led to greater resource efficiency in recent  
decades, our report finds that current aspirations for 'decoupling'  
environmental impacts from economic growth are unrealistic. The report  

finds no evidence as yet of decoupling taking place on anything like  
the scale or speed which would be required to avoid increasing  
environmental devastation.
Prosperity without growth? proposes twelve steps towards a sustainable  

economy and argues for a redefinition of "prosperity" in line with  
evidence about what contributes to people=92s wellbeing.
SDC intends to generate discussion and debate on the challenges on the  

issues that Prosperity without Growth? raises. We have sent the report  

to the Prime Minister, government leaders in the devolved  
administrations, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other government  

ministers, as well as business and civil society leaders.

I hope you find them useful in your definition efforts.


Antonio Rodriguez Figueroa, PhD, PE
Environmental Consultant
San Juan, PR

From: painter2**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Environmental sustainability in labs?- Friday  
Hilarity Ensues
Date: September 1, 2009 1:13:24 AM EDT

Here's the definition from the book "Environmental Policy -New  
Directions for the Twenty-First Century" edited by Norman Vig and  
Michael Kraft, CQ Press 2003.

Sustainability can be defined either broadly or narrowly. Broadly,  
environmental sustainability is the capacity to continuously produce  
the necessities of a quality human existence within the bounds of a  
natural world of undiminished quality. Sustainability in this sense is  

a long term societal objective rather than something achieved once and  

for all at any given time.

Environmental Sustainability encompasses high performance levels  
within three measurable sets of environmental values:
1. human health
2. ecosystem health
3. resource sustainability

Resource sustainability, the narrower sense of sustainability is  
achieved through the effective management of society's total material  

and energy requirements.

Corry Painter
Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Management Division
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
P.O. Box 808 L-547
Livermore, CA, 94551
Tel.: (925) 423-1473
Fax: (925) 422-3469
E-mail: painter2**At_Symbol_Here**

Lab sustainability resources that were pointed out to me:

Harvard has a decent Lab Sustainability program started

Otherwise, the other stuff I've been working on is in reference to  
waste minimization efforts, lab recycling, and fume hood / lights out  

behavior change in labs. You can always send him to the MIT EHS site  
green pages under Sustainability Tool Kit.

From: jisteinf**At_Symbol_Here**MIT.EDU
Subject:  Re: [DCHAS-L] Environmental sustainability in labs?]
Date: August 30, 2009 1:09:24 PM EDT

(1) We have developed an alternative chemicals "expert system" with  
support from the USEPA P3 program. You can find this at

(2) There is a Department supported initiative under way to reduce  
energy usage associated with laboratory fume hoods. There is no web  
site about this that I know of.

More generally you may want to browse the web site of the student  
group "Sustainability**At_Symbol_Here**MIT" at You might  

take a look at the menu item "Revolving Doors" on the list for a nice  

"Tech-y" approach to behavior modification!

In reply to Harry Elston's request below for a CONCISE DEFINITION  
(sic) of what sustainability really means, I can offer the following  
options [please pass these along to him -- I could not find an e-mail  

(1) When MIT joined the Alliance for Global Sustainability [see 
  ] it was decided that nothing would be accomplished by trying to  
define sustainability -- we should just go ahead and do it.
(2) Alternatively we have an eight page essay on "The Concept of  
Sustainable Development" with eight theses. I can send this along if  
you would like to see it.

Jeffrey I. Steinfeld
2 - 221 M.I.T.
Cambridge Mass. 02139
(617) 253 - 4525

Finally, on the ACS Communities page, there is a discussion group  
talking about sustainability at
that people interested in this topic may want to join. They are  
struggling with definiton issues as well as practical aspects of  
greeiing national metings...

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.