The quote above is one of those truly defining quotes about sustainability, triple bottom line planning, and just plain common sense. I snapped this photo from a page of the book “This Spaceship Earth”, which I recommend reading. It has a corresponding action website at http://thisspaceshipearth.org/. The book is a bit data driven for me, as I revel more in the storytelling side of sustainability and engagement, but does much to clarify the facts of climate change and other resource depletion and to remind us that “we are crew” on this planet, not passengers that can sleep our way through the journey. We don’t have the right, let alone the ability, to let someone else make all the decisions and expend all the energy on our behalf.
By reminding us that we are all crew, this book tells us in clearly pragmatic terms that we are all hitched together, every one of us. Not just to each other but to the world we inhabit, the water, air and soil, the flora and fauna, the affecting planetary and solar bodies beyond our thin, habitable layer as well.
Buildings are like this. Take one element of a building, perhaps the type of window for example, and change the window’s functional attributes or performance ratings. This will affect view, solar heat gain, comfort of the occupants, sizing of HVAC systems, the code review, even the manufacturing and material sourcing. It is not just a window, but one component of the building energy system and a connector of the occupant to earth and sky. Strive to optimize the interwoven results.
Projects are like this. The most successful projects in business, in life, in your committee work, are those that seek to achieve cost-effective, optimized results in the long-term view, and they will consider as much as possible all that the project affects and all that can affect the project. In order to attain this impressive level of achievement, we have to expand our teams and ask more questions than we are typically trained to ask by traditional “leadership” curricula. Seek broad and deep inputs.
Relationships are like this. The deepest and most fulfilling relationships are not single planed, but have many layers, and thorough, embedded influences in our lives. Some of these influences are supportive and generous, and some cause negative ripples for years. Regardless, this intricate web is important in a successful life, and the characters most deserving of our pity in literature and song are those that are aloof and not “hitched” to those around them, by circumstance or by their own actions. Pity the dis-engaged.
So, if we are indeed intrinsically connected, if every project requires insights beyond our own capabilities and if each building ties not only to itself, but the nature around and within it, we have the power to make the changes we seek. We are crew. We are responsible and we have the right to understand, strengthen and increase our connections and our effects.
All hands on deck.