Sustainability

International climate policies are best linked to global economic development. The historical rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been due almost entirely to economic activity in the developed nations such as the US, but the future rise will be due largely to the growth of the economies of developing nations. 

As of 2000, almost half of the world's population lived in extreme poverty at the bottom of the 'economic pyramid'. There has been significant success globally in lifting many of these people out of such poverty during the past 15 years. Those still at the bottom deserve to be lifted into a world where everyone has roughly equal access to wealth, health, well-being, energy and carbon. We call that 'squaring the pyramid'. 

The projects of the CCRM are all designed to allow economic development for the poorest people to proceed while also reducing the world's carbon footprint by more than half. The aim: approximately 2 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year spread equally across all people. This is equitable, it is just, it is feasible, it is rational and it is environmentally sound. 

These twin goals of economic development and environmental improvement are at the heart of a strategy of sustainability that guides all CCRM work. The origin of that word is the German practice of Nachhaltigkeit from the 18th century. Noticing that their economy depended on a supply of wood, and that this supply was dwindling, the practice of sustainable forestry was begun. Hence the direct link within sustainability, between an economy and the environmental resources on which it depends. Economic growth and environmental protection can be balanced for those at the bottom of the pyramid, but only if a new path of energy and economic activity is created - one in which economic growth is 'decoupled' from greenhouse gas emissions and the destruction of forests. 

At CCRM, we partner with engineers, architects, planners etc to deliver sustainable economic development. The projects we support are guided by a Design Manual developed initially at the firm Pell Frischmann and which describes sustainable community design. 


You will note that the document does not contain page numbers. That is because it is constantly evolving as new technologies come on line. 

Multi-Criteria Analysis for projects

A CCRM project should improve the overall sustainability of a community, not only reduce the risks of climate change. Therefore, projects must be assessed using Multi-Criteria Analysis or MCA. This process considers many Attributes and Indicators of the sustainability performance of a community both with and without the project, and guides the designer through selection of the most sustainable project. 

This analysis uses a Sustainability Assessment Tool, which you can download HEREYou can also download an example application of the tool HERE.

There is a step in MCA where you must decide how to assign a score to the performance of a community on a given Indicator (such as per capita GHG emissions or Gross Domestic Product). What is to count as performance that is ''high' sustainability, and what is to count as 'low' sustainability? In CCRM projects, a scoring system is developed (0 to 5 or 0 to 10), where for any specific Indicator a value of 0 means very poor performance and a value of 10 (or 5 if the scale is 0 to 5) means top possible performance. To develop the scale, we use the idea of Aspirant Classes, which are examples of practices or nations which we take to be performing particularly well or poorly. Different Aspirant Classes are defined for each separate Indicator. They are selected by the community sponsoring the project.

An example is shown below, taken from an Environment Vision 2030 project developed to support the sustainability planning of Abu Dhabi, and in collaboration with the firm Jacobs and the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency.