In 2015, ICF added a sixth criteria to its list of the Intelligent Community Indicators. It is a focus on environmental sustainability.
Improving current living standards, while maintaining the ability of future generations to do the same, is at the core of sustainability. Throughout human history, economic growth has always involved the consumption of more resources and the production of more waste. As humanity begins to push up against the limits of the ecosystem to provide resources and absorb waste, we need to find ways to continue growth – with all of its positive impacts on the community – while reducing the environmental impact of that growth.
Why Sustainability Matters
When Intelligent Communities commit their economies to a sustainable future, they seek to improve local quality of life, from cleaner air and water to improved public transportation and greater livability.
Communities that use fewer resources to create products and provide services are also more efficient and productive, which is key to continued improvements in their standard of living. As the world turns its attention to reining in human impact on the planet that supports us, sustainablity will generate substantial new opportunities for technology advance, business growth and employment in green industries.
Communities that make environmental sustainability a shared goal typically engage organizations, community groups and neighborhoods in advocating sustainability programs and activities. These contribute to civic pride, local identity and shared goals.
For all these reasons, a commitment to environmental sustainability protects the Intelligent Community's future, expands their economic opportunities, and helps create a culture of innovative collaboration that powers success.