Director, Center for Sustainable Communities
While scholars have debated the nature of sustainability and have
outlined numerous, sometimes ponderous definitions of it, we can
simply accept its basic tenets.
In short, sustainability means protecting and managing our natural
resources so they are available for future generations. It also means
that in promoting sustainability we must give careful and thoughtful
consideration to the environmental, economic, and social aspects of
alternative courses of action so advances in one area do not come at
the expense of the others.
For example, when addressing issues of urban sprawl, it seems more
prudent to encourage the redevelopment of our older boroughs and
suburbs rather than building new homes in the hinterland.
This simultaneously fosters positive economic and social development
as well as environmental protection. In contrast, building new homes
in the hinterland only complicates sprawl and leads to greater
economic and social disparities between older cities and towns and our
developments in the fringe areas of the Philadelphia region as well as
more traffic, smog, and ecological damage.
As noted in a report spearheaded by the Center for Sustainable
Communities, “sustainability” means making decisions, both as
individuals and as a society, that seek to maintain or enhance
economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and
restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies
depend. The report titled “Is Pennsylvania Moving Towards a
Sustainable Future” outlined a number of trends or sustainability
indicators on how well the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is either
enhancing or degrading our quality of life.
Ambler College students and faculty are involved in numerous important
research activities, which in turn assist area communities, including
a major study of the Pennypack Creek Watershed; a study of flooding in
the Fort Washington Office Park; and emergency management analysis for
area municipalities. The multidisciplinary research in floodplain
mapping is serving as a national model on how to update floodplain
maps using state-of-the-art hydrologic modeling, aerial photography,
and geographic information system mapping.
The Ambler campus is an arboretum, and purchases wind power to show
its commitment to using renewable resources.
The Center and the departments that comprise Ambler College -
Community and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture and
Horticulture - seek to promote sustainability by practicing what we
preach and serving as a resource to municipal officials, community
organizations, and citizens by providing objective information and
services to improve decision-making relative to land and water