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The Natural Step

Sustainability 101 - Intro Course

  • cumbersome process for logging in (lots of must haves, and access etc.)
  • irritating pop up boxes, everytime I want to go to next (something about an API missing - Trying to set value but API not available. cmi.suspend_data TNS_2_1_08)

Select cancel to disable future warnings.)

  • first experience I have, with the course (well, the 2nd, after getting the invitation via email)
  • great pictures, engaging
  • use open access to support marketing
  • you could have access to audio, and easily update audio portions located elsewhere on the wiki, or simply elsewhere
  • updating issues
  • i.e., quiz question
  • A. Which organization runs 80% of their stores in Sweden on renewable energy?
  • B. Actually, it’s McDonald’s.

McDonald’s Sweden runs 80 percent of their 233 stores on renewable energy. They also serve organic ice cream, cake and milk, and recycle 90 percent of all restaurant waste. In addition, the company has dramatically reduced the amount of heavy metals used in restaurant construction and toys, and eliminated over 1200 tonnes of packaging material. (Comment.gif: How do you easily update these figures? )

  • update interactivity - see slide with the Globe
  • have ongoing discussion about interactivity resources
  • exercise(s) vs. activity
  • Living Planet Report (2004) - 'dated'? - in the climate change world...
  • in 1992 - union of concerned scientists - is there a more recent communique, panel, etc.

To the Future ... Today

That’s why it’s so important to start investing in sustainability NOW. The longer we wait to plan for change, the more constraints we will face over time, and the fewer options we will have.

But it’s not all about avoiding catastrophe. Making proactive investments towards the opening of the funnel allows an organization or community to reap huge strategic benefits, to seize new opportunities.

What does the funnel mean for your organization or community? Where in the funnel would you rather be?

Whistler Scenario

For this scenario, please put yourself in the shoes of a decision-maker in the community of Whistler, BC, Canada. First, a bit of background.

The resort municipality of Whistler is a beautiful community of about 10,000 people nestled below the Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, north of Vancouver. In recognition of its world-class status as a ski resort, Whistler will co-host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games with Vancouver. The community faces tremendous growth pressures, particularly with the Olympics coming to town. One of the many issues that the municipality must deal with as it prepares for the future involves energy, particularly the energy used to heat homes, businesses, other buildings and tourist accommodations for around 60,000 people.

Whistler’s current heating needs are provided for mainly by propane, electricity, and diesel fuel, in that order. Most of the propane arrives by rail or truck, is stored in tanks and then distributed via pipes. This service is provided by energy supplier Terasen Inc.

However, the community’s existing propane system has reached its capacity. Terasen has proposed to build a natural gas pipeline from Squamish, 45 kilometres south of town that would have about three times the capacity of the current propane system. The supply would easily meet all of the demand scenarios forecasted by Terasen.

At the same time that this proposal was being developed, the community was working on Whistler 2020, a community-wide comprehensive sustainability plan. This plan includes an energy vision.

  • click on each one of the scenario
  • presentations by people (interactive)
  • community forums, sense of dynamism
  • RSS feeds... have people become part of a community, as they consider their own community situation
  • build and sustain the energy
  • nice interactive polling with sound / graphic (i.e., accept, reject)
  • is it as simple as responding to the statements....yes, tradeoffs and compromises... - to make better sense of sustainability (tension)

Backcasting from Sustainability Principles

  • systems thinking
  • 4 fundamental principles (deeply rooted in science and systems thinking - wide agreement)
  1. In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the earth's crust.
  2. In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
  3. In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing degradation by physical means.
  4. In a sustainable society, people are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.
  • ABCD process
  • tools and approaches - interrelationships


  • new forms of sustainability - instead of simply animal to plant
  • evolving understanding

  • Systems perspective -
  • complexity
  • interactivity?
  • better graphics, interactivity, animation, etc.
  • more focus on people (stories)

Instructional Design

  • problem of matching audio to content
  • better to do content first, then audio
  • full outline of course, hyperlinked
  • Scenarios - very static, hard to see (table) - lost in details
  • Like the ROI questions
  • Also, this is IMPORTANT
To their credit, Terasen met the challenge head-on. After several months of work with Whistler, Terasen worked out an alternative energy plan for the community.
  • Essential Elements for Sustainable Development (System) - overall system, success level, strategy, actions, tools and metrics
  • Major Collaborative effort - article