Ten years ago I took a fork in the road that was signposted ‘sustainability via quality’

This was at the time the Regional Development Agency was consulting on a Strategy to 2020, and I wrote in to say:

“This is evident in the terms in which the strategy is expressed and from this point of view it is to be welcomed. A basically economic document, it has been woven to include the strands of environmental and socially sustainable development. The basic weakness of the strategy is that it assumes that the global economy will continue growing in the traditional way and takes no account of a genuine move to global or regional sustainability…

“…To achieve this will require a revolution in the design and exploitation of environmental technology and the efficient use and recycling of all and especially non-renewable resources. Industry must be made to see that these issues are a way of gaining competitive advantage in the next century, not a burden.

“Society must be educated to create and sustain a community based on increasing well-being and not on material gain, which time has shown does not lead to human happiness. An ‘economy’ such as this will lead to increased social and environmental profit and, there is no reason to doubt, monetary profit.”

Our failure to educate ourselves to understand the concept of quality, the costs of less-than-perfect quality and the risks and possible costs of failure has led us to the position we are in now.

In addition, resource constraints will ensure that we will not have a viable economic future unless we come to terms with the first law of sustainability, that in a resource-constrained environment, goods and services can only grow at the rate at which they can be dematerialised.

This is what those who understand quality do, they work to maximise the value added to society resulting from the creation, use and disposal of products and services, while working to continually reduce the ‘loss to society’ that results.

People that recognise this and draw it into their approach to employment will secure the work out there, and will be the ones who enable our future.

Derek Deighton, CIBSE Low Carbon Consultant