International Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD)

ICSD Gaithersburg:
22923 Wildcat Road Gaithersburg, Maryland 20882 U.S.A.

Phone: 1.301.428.1040 Fax: 1.301.916.8786

ICSD Baltimore:
111 S. Calvert Street,
Suite 2310
Baltimore, Maryland 21202 U.S.A.
Phone: 1.443.514.7122 | Fax: 1.443.451.8386


ICSD's Strategies

ICSD does not promote any individual technology but rather looks at the needs of a given project and uses a systems approach to find the best solution.

What is Sustainable Development?

Essential Quotes

"...Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

--World Commission on Environment and Development: "Bruntland Commission", 1987

"Then I say the earth belongs to each...generation during its course, fully and in its own right, The second generation receives it clear of debts and encumbrances, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not the living generation. Then no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence." -

-Thomas Jefferson, September 6, 1789

"Sustainability is the [emerging] doctrine that economic growth and development must take place, and be maintained over time, within the limits set by ecology in the broadest sense - by the interrelations of human beings and their works, the biosphere and the physical and chemical laws that govern it... It follows that environmental protection and economic development are complementary rather than antagonistic processes."

--William D. Ruckelshaus, "Toward a Sustainable World," Scientific American, September, 1989

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ICSD's Understanding

Fundamentally, sustainable design requires a community to exist with only renewable energy and renewable resources as inputs and only recyclable and non-polluting outputs. From this perspective, fossil fuels are not a sustainable energy source. Instead, locally available resources must be assessed to find renewable energy sources. Solar power, solar water purification and heating, passive solar design methods, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric – all are potential candidates for community energy. In addition to being renewable, these energy sources are also non-polluting: no carbon dioxide emissions, and none of the air pollution associated with low-efficiency wood and coal combustion that is common in developing countries.  

Likewise, the concept of “waste” is set aside and instead unwanted community residues (agricultural, industrial, animal, municipal, etc.) are examined for useful applications. These residues may be used as resources for new manufacturing enterprises (e.g. wastewater to feed a tree farm, and straw to make construction particle board), or agricultural and animal residue as input for gasification or to a biogas reactor. The reactor byproducts are fertilizer and biogas useful for heating and electricity generation. Ideally, the nutrients of the soil are used to produce crops that feed the community and animals and support the economy, then residues from the community are returned to the soil. This system is self-sufficient with the natural biocycle supplying water and sun as the only energy input. Additional renewable energy sources allow for a better quality of life.  

These ideas lead to the concept of system integration: selecting business enterprises that produce residues that can in turn feed other enterprises; selecting agricultural crops with residues suitable for village enterprises or energy generation; selecting home building materials and design methods that promote local business and make use of available resources (including the sun for winter heating); utilizing local resources and meeting local needs. Part of sustainable development therefore requires a systems level approach to community development. However, beyond these basic concepts of sustainable development, still other factors influence the success or failure of a development project.

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ICSD's Six Basic Principles of Sustainable Development

To guide our sustainable village development projects, ICSD has developed:

6 Basic Principles of Sustainable Development

  1. The Village is a Natural System, including:
    ·       Villagers and the community
    ·       Agriculture, Energy, Transportation
    ·       Clean water, Sanitation
    ·       Enterprise
  2. Maximize the use of the village's natural resources (sun, soil, crops, water, villager time and talent) without depleting the natural system's capacity to be sustainable.
  3. Protect all natural living systems: Don't pollute the water, air and soil.
  4. Eliminate Waste: All "waste" is input to other systems in the village.
  5. Improve the productivity and efficiency of all village systems:
    Agriculture, human effort, energy & resource use.
  6. Establish community organizations to operate and manage the sustainable village for the benefit of ALL villagers.

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