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Our Challenge

As Stewart Brand said in the introduction to the Whole Earth Catalogs,

"If we are going to act like gods, we might as well get good at it."

And Biomimicry is one key, and in a sense, one of the legacy's of the Whole Earth movement. Like Buckminster Fuller's comprehensive antipatory design science, Biomimicry is (1) the exploration and understanding of nature, i.e., the environment, as the technology and economy of an exquisitely evolved and designed regenerative life support system (living machine) that has been tested and developed over 4.8 billion years of evolution, and then (2) applying those battle-hardened principles to all aspects of human activity--designing, creating, and managing of society, from industrial products, to urban and regional systems, to public policy, business, the economy, etc.

Key Questions

Sustainability 2030's (S2030) research/practice program addresses the following key questions:

1. How can you/we become effective, powerful, even transformational forces for sustainability?

2. What is the program required for ultimate sustainability success--the end game?

3. Who has part of the answer now (current sustainability champions), how far do they take us, and how can we harness the state-of-the-art leading edge sustainability to an innovative research/practice program that gets us to ultimate success in the limited time remaining?  (more)


Advance, accelerate, and amplify an accurate understanding of the sustainability challenge and how to harness the power and potential of sustainability for an effective response before time runs out. The Strategic Sustainability2030 Institute  (S2030I) is a web-based think/do tank (more).



April 2013, Chicago, APA National Conference.

May 13-15, 2013, Seattle, Living Future unConference.

PAST (2012):

October 23-26, Portland, EcoDistrict Summit 2012.

July 31-Aug. 4, Portland, Ecosystem Services Conference.

May 2-4, Portland, The Living Future Unconference for deep green professionals.

June 15-18, Brazil, Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

International Society of Sustainability Professionals
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Our Challenge

as Buckminster Fuller observed, is

"to make the world work for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

This goal is the essence of sustainable development! The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) provides access to Bucky's legacy, including his comprehensive anticipatory design science revolution. Check out their website, their programs, and engage.

Problem & Way Out


Caption: "Sadly, the only proven way to achieve global GHG reductions so far has been economic recession." Comment: Fortunately, shifting to 100% renewables would catalyze the global transition to durable prosperity and community well-being in a way that would eliminate GHG production AND grow the economy <<continued>>. (See also: strategic sustainabilitynatural capitalismits four strategies, and RMI's Reinventing Fire [energy] Program.) 

APA Links

Green Urbanism - Formulating a series of holistic principles

Green Growth - Recent Developments (OECD)

Foundation Earth - Rethinking Society from the Ground Up

Reinventing Fire - A key transformational initiative of RMI worth knowing/watching.

A Quick-Start Guide to Strategic Sustainability Planning

NEW Report: Embedding sustainability into government culture.

New STARS LEED-like sustainable transportation tool for plans, projects, cities, corridors, regions.

Strategic Community Sustainability Planning workshop resources.

Leveraging Leading-Edge Sustainability report.

Winning or losing the future is our choice NOW!

How Possible is Sustainable Development, by Edward Jepson, PhD.

Legacy sustainability articles -- the Naphtali Knox collection.


TNS Transition to Global Sustainability Network

EcoDistricts -- NextGen Urban Sustainability

Darin Dinsmore: Community & Regional Sustainability Strategies and Planning

Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design

APA-SCP (Sustainable Community Planning) Interest Group

Sustainability Learning Center

New path breaking Solutions Journal

Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

Strategic Sustainability -- distance learning at BHT

Q4 Consulting - Mindfulness, Sustainability, and Leadership

RealClimate--Climate Science by Real Scientists

World Cafe--Designed Conversation for Group Intelligence

Real Change--Research Program for Global Sustainability Decision Making

RMI Conference, SF, 10-1/3-2009

Real Time Carbon Counter

Global Climate Change - Implications for US

Agenda for a Sustainable America 2009

ALIA Institute Sustainability Leadership

Frontiers in Ecological Economics

Herman Daly -- Failed Growth to Sustainable Steady State?

EOF - Macroeconomics and Ecological Sustainability

Gil Friend - Truth About Green Business

Sustainable Transpo SF

Google Earth-Day KMLs

AIA Sustainability 2030 Toolkit

Donella Meadows - Which Future?

Urban Mobility System wins Bucky Challenge 2009

Renewable Economy Cheaper than Systems Collapse

Population Growth-Earth Forum

Breakthrough Ideas-Bucky Challenge

Urban & Regional Planning-Cities at a Turning Point

John P. Holdren-Meeting the Climate Change Challenge

Stephen Cohen's Weekly Column in the New York Observer

« Biomimicry Meets Planning? | Main | People WILL Pay for Clean Energy! »

Net Zero Walgreens?! Implications for Transformation

Walgreens' embrace of net zero retail development is laudable, particularly because of the potential for its adoption to drive the normalization of net zero building performance industry wide. In addition, the authenticity of Walgreens’ commitment is reflected in seeking Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, the only sustainability framework for the built environment that embraces the ultimate sustainability goals of net zero as a minimum impact, and restorative impacts as the standard. The LBC won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2012 as the most promising innovation to drive global sustainability.

It is important to note that "net zero" is a tricky concept. By itself, it does not necessarily use only renewable energy, and therefore would not necessarily achieve full sustainability.  The key difficulty is that peak energy use, in either the winter for heat or the summer for cooling, can exceed the average renewable energy generation capacity, and therefore need to draw from the carbon-fueled utility energy grid.  Thus, constructing buildings that require a minimal amount of energy for heating and cooling is key, and those requirements lie far beyond the California Title 24 code or other state of federal codes or guidelines.

The one existing building technology that can produce an 80-90% reduction in building core energy use goes by the name of "Passive House."  Under development for the past 20+ years, and a common feature of the residential and commercial building landscape in Europe, and catching on in the US (40,000 buildings constructed worldwide since 1996; see History, below), passive house represents a "keystone" innovation in building technology that enables the low/no carbon, renewable energy, ecological economy of a sustainable society. Without reducing building energy use, net-zero to net-positive (to fuel our electric transportation system) renewable energy will remain elusive. 

The Region of Brussels is an impressive demonstration of local economic transformation strategy and public/private sector collaboration. The region went from last to first place in five years, from 2007-2012 in building sector energy efficiency. During that time, the regional government catalyzed construction of over 15M sq. meters of passive house-based buildings (Passive House Brussels, Ms. Dockx, below).

Another dimension of a future net zero/net positive built environment, is Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Their use holds the potential to turn cities from energy consumers into energy producers using the free, ubiquitous energy resource that powers the primary production of the planet, the earth's biosphere, ecosystems, and regenerative life support and ecological economy! Combined with passive house building technology for residential and commercial buildings, BIPV promises to be the net positive, game-changing innovation and keystone of a renewable energy sustainable economy and society.

It is heartening to see the potential quickening of the transformation with innovation by industry leaders, such as Walgreens, with the capacity to drive systems transformation. It is only hoped that they, along with industry gate keepers and local planning and building officials, can embrace the challenge and engage in the innovation required for an effective response--and sustainability success before the limited time available runs out. Our children’s' survival depends on it.


  • Living Building Challenge:
  • Buckminster Fuller 2012 Challenge:
  • Passive House:,
  • History of Passive House:
  • Building Carbon Zero CA Syposium:
  • Passive House Brussels (see Ms. Dockx):  see 2 PDFs!resources-sf/c1z7j
  • Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV): 


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