The Sustainability Framework recognizes that production starts with ecosystems from which we derive natural resources. Natural resources are turned into the commodities used to construct and operate built environments with the help of engineered systems. The wastes from these activities are absorbed by ecosystems to re-produce natural resources.
Six themes have been established to guide the School in its implementation of the Sustainability Framework. These themes reflect the inter-relatedness of ecological, social and economic interests needed to meet the challenge of sustainability:
Protect and strengthen assets:
Assets include: the natural environment, such as rivers, forests, species (e.g. salmon); social values and relationships expressed through cultural heritage, youth as contributors to society, aboriginal or ethnic knowledge; and economic capital, such as equipment and infrastructure.
Balance use and renewal of resources:
This means don't take more than nature can produce on a sustained basis year after year. An example is the use of certified wood products that are harvested on a sustained yield basis.
Account for all costs and benefits:
This means going beyond the bottom line to include full life-cycle costs and costs that may not be financial but still have an impact (e.g. social and environmental costs). Although it is sometimes hard to do, the intention is to be more holistic in our approach. The cheapest price doesn't always mean it is the best choice--especially when long-term operating costs are considered, or if the product has externalized costs associated with it that either someone else or something else pays for (e.g. pollution, unethical treatment of workers).
Reduce waste and eliminate toxicants:
This means that any product that creates a persistent or hazardous pollution condition in its manufacture, use or decomposition should be avoided. Choose products that can be reused or recycled over ones that cannot.
Ensure safety and access to services:
Safety should be inherent in everything we do and should be a factor in the choices of products we purchase and use. Risk management decisions include not only immediate impacts to the interests of the Institute, its faculty, staff and students, but also to the environment and to other communities that are affected either immediately or cumulatively over a longer-term as a result of decisions and actions. Access to services implies locality and availability of products and support services for their maintenance (there are social implications that may be harder to map: e.g. services that support training and upgrading of skills).
Support opportunities for improvement and enjoyment:
The learning environment should be enjoyable to the degree that we can support opportunities for continuous improvement of skills and learning opportunities, empower people through the learning process, and provide fun and stimulating opportunities to innovate and improve.