“Design is the Problem” discusses nine widely used paradigms of sustainability. Each implements a different definition of sustainability, and some seem to have more value than others. The best frameworks incorporates environmental, social and fiscal sustainability in an applicable and measurable fashion, in a way that gives a clear course of action. The Cradle to Cradle framework focused predominantly on environmental sustainability, where as the Social Return on Investment framework weighted social sustainability as most important. Only the Sustainability Helix gave the financial sustainability due importance.
Financial sustainability is vital to consider, because without it, the business promoting environmental sustainability and social good will be unable to achieve any lasting impact as it will not have what is necessary to fund it. Also, all businesses are began with an initial investment, and have a duty to make a return on their initial investment. The best framework for understanding sustainability and its impact on the design and development of products must acknowledge the importance for a sustainable market in order to stay around long enough to do significant environmental or social good. It is also good for the framework to provide a course of action to achieve sustainability according to the parameters it creates, to provide direction to less-than, or even highly unsustainable businesses.
The only framework that significantly incorporates the financial aspects of sustainability is the Sustainability Helix. The Sustainability Helix is business-centric, and evaluates organizations for their commitment to and progress in sustainability. It is also highly unique in that it provides a procedure to achieving sustainability in all three areas: environmental, social and financial. Some strengths of this lens include that it is not moralizing, it’s assessment of sustainability is neutral, it encourages restoration efforts and it integrates sustainable functions throughout an organization. This framework does not provide quantitative ways to measure sustainability, but rather uses subjective descriptors to determine where a business fits into the helix.
This framework is best-suited to be rolled out at the corporate level, but really can only be used if rolled out to all levels of the business. This requires an integration between all categories of the business which is quite unique. The Sustainability Helix incorporates several other design paradigms discussed in this chapter, including the principles of Natural Capitalism and some other ethos of the other frameworks, seeing as the hoped for ends to each framework addressed are similar. However, the Sustainability Helix framework is the most integrative of the frameworks described, and hence, is the best framework to apply.