Public agency handbook on sustainbility
In practical terms sustainability means applying cost-saving techniques and systems planning to phase-in the development of "closed-loop" economic systems. In closed-loop systems, non-toxic, renewable sources of energy and raw materials are extracted from nature in a manner and at a rate that does not degrade ecological systems. There are environmental and economic reasons for a sustainability initiative. A growing stable of research shows that while sustainability practices may require initial investments, they generally have a rapid payback leading to large returns in investment. Sustainability can be defined through direct means and by following a set of principles. An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a system that addresses those aspects of organizational or community operations which impact the environment. An EMS includes an organizational structure, planning activities, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and resources for developing, implementing, achieving, reviewing and maintaining the organization's environmental (sustainability) policy.