291 Beginnings

The publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 alerted the general public to the dangers of pesticides, in particular the dangers to humans. This helped precipitate the rise of an environmental movement, politics and laws in the United States during the sixties and seventies. New laws were passed to protect the environment. These included:

• The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969— this created the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

• The Clean Air Act was passed in 1970. This greatly expanded the protection of two previous laws, the Air Pollution Control Act of 1955 and the first Clean Air Act of 1963.

• The Water Pollution Control Act of 1972.

• The Endangered Species Act of 1973.

• The formation of the Federal Department of Energy in the late seventies.

But a problem with environmentalism was beginning to brew. There came a tension, an apparent conflict between the need to preserve the environment and the need to grow and expand the economy and jobs. Environmentalists began to be seen as opponents of growth and industry. There appeared to be a contradiction between business and protection of the environment. Environmentalism began to be seen as just another "special interest" group which simply added cost to running a business with very little added value.

In addition to legislation, other events were occurring during the seventies, eighties, and nineties which encouraged the development of sustainability:

• Nuclear power suffered major setbacks with the incidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

• Major oceanic oil spills, including the EXXON Val-dez.

• The OPEC oil crises of the mid-seventies and early eighties.

• The mid-seventies natural gas shortages that caused many plants to close during the winter to preserve gas for home heating.

• Discovery that ozone depleting compounds, such as CFC refrigerants, were destroying the ozone layer of the atmosphere.

During the eighties, in reaction to the forces of high energy costs, inadequate energy supplies, environmen-talism, and pollution control, a new approach to designing, building and operating buildings began to develop. It was recognized that buildings consume significant percentages of our resources, open space and energy. However, some of the new approaches were not without problems. For example, architects experimented with half or even fully buried homes. But many times these homes had problems such as humidity, which led to mold. As a result of the desire to save energy on ventilation air, ASHRAE modified Standard 62 and reduced ventilation rates to five cubic feet per minute (CFM) for offices. This contributed to what was later called sick building syndrome, or SBS. SBS was a catchall phrase for any building that provided an uncomfortable, irritating, and possibly unhealthy indoor environment for the occupants. Employees in these buildings generally had higher rates of absenteeism, lower productivity, and higher incidences of lawsuits against building owners and employers.

29.1.1 The Sustainability Movement

While buildings and occupants were suffering through difficulties as described above, the nineties gave rise to the sustainability movement. It was in 1999 that the book Natural Capitalism by P. Hawken, A. Lovins, and L. H. Lovins was released. The authors present the connection between economics and environmentalism, and argued that they are mutually supportive, not mutually exclusive. Natural Capitalism points out that as in its title, nature itself is capital. For example, what is the value of a clean lake? It is drinking water that needs less expensive water treatment before being potable. It is the recreational value and income for some, through swimmers and boaters. If the lake were destroyed through pollution, water treatment costs would rise and lake use revenues go down. Seems simple enough, but it has mostly been ignored until now.

Historically, the environmental movement consisted primarily of regulation, legislation, and mandates. However, this regulatory approach has often been seen by the business community as an obstacle to growth. But a new form of green revolution was emerging. This one may succeed where traditional legislative environmentalism has had limited success. This new form is a larger view, taking economic, community, and technological considerations into account, as well as environmental. This new sustainability recognizes the need to consider the cost-benefit analysis in evaluating and/or promoting various programs. And the themes presented in Natural Capitalism help us identify and quantify the complete costs and benefits associated with sustainability.

29.1.2 Sustainability Defined

Some of the many definitions of sustainability that exist include:

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