Sustainability is a catch phrase used by laymen and experts in several fields. The word sustainability by original definition meant the ability to sustain, or the potential to keep things the same way. Now, people in all areas have made their own definition of sustainability to the point where the true definition has been lost. Perhaps this isn’t on accident; as the thermodynamic principle of entropy states, entropy is forever increasing, which states that things cannot stay the same. Therefore true “sustainability” is not possible, in any field, for any area. It is impossible.
That being said, the term “sustainability” for my purposes in environmental engineering represents the ideas and efforts made to preserve a natural system, or even better, to minimally disrupt a system despite inevitable changes to the respective environment; including increasing population, urbanization, temperature and energy changes. Though “sustainability” has become the buzz-word of environmental discussions world-wide, I respectfully recommend the use of “Low Impact Design” as an alternative. I know, three words to replace one isn’t ideal, however, those three words do have one less syllable, so to me, it’s justified.