What are the three pillars of sustainability? The three pillars of sustainability reveal the intertwined influences from social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Efforts to conserve resources and provide environmental protections can sustain societies i.e. people, cultures, diversity, aging, gender identities, etc., and positively, or negatively, sustain economies. Sustainability in one pillar, has an impact in the other two.
Businesses, and universities, have to operate within a budget or they are not sustainable. The triple bottom line is the balance between sustaining people, production, and planet. It is the exchange in one to facilitate the others. Think of the protection of wildlife in Alaska over large deposits of oil and gas. Protecting the wildlife causes higher prices for oil and gas, but sustains Native Alaskan heritage by protecting hunting grounds, and provides income for farmers, ranchers, local business benefiting from tourists wanting to visit the auspicious native landscape. And a reduction in non-renewable resources can create a market for innovative solutions like improved solar power storage and electric cars. UTSA sustainability works to improve sustainability on campus through the practice of these two concepts. The Office of Sustainability employs the concepts of triple bottom line, or people, planet, production, and the three pillars, or supporting social, environmental, and economic initiatives.