No more write-offs
As a reader of Sustainable Industries, you're eligible to receive $50 off Kevin Halsey's May 14 workshop, "Integrative Land Use Planning: Collaborative Tools for Optimizing Performance." Simply click here to register.
According to ecosystem services expert Kevin Halsey, transforming social and environmental impacts from business write-offs into drivers of ecological, social, and financial value is not only feasible – it's inevitable.
Sustainable Industries recently caught up with Halsey, co-lead for the Ecosystem Services Consulting team at Parametrix, for an in-depth Q&A. In his role at the Portland-based firm, Halsey helps clients understand ecosystem markets in a variety of projects throughout the western United States and Canada.
Halsey also leads workshops for the University of Oregon's Sustainability Leadership Program. Sustainable Industries recently partnered with the program to both produce and distribute a multi-media content series focused on topical content emerging from the curriculum.
In Part 1 of the interview below, Halsey fleshes out the critical importance of ecosystem services – and why it's not just about "monetizing nature." In Part 2 of the interview – which can be read here – Halsey gets specific about his ecosystem services work in the built environment through the lens of Seattle’s celebrated Bullitt Center, a candidate to meet the rigorous Living Building Challenge (not to mention it's self-proclaimed status as the "greenest commercial building in the world").
SI: Good afternoon, Kevin. To start, what’s your best super tight definition of 'ecosystem services' for the business audience?
KH: Ecosystem services are the natural benefits we rely on for survival and quality of life. When we change the systems that are providing these benefits, there are social and economic consequences.
SI: 'Consequences,' eh? Why are some concerned that ecosystem services are based on the premise that 'nature is here to serve us,' and what do you say to those concerned?
KH: The term itself can certainly mislead people into thinking it is about how nature serves us – and when we talk about understanding the 'value' of nature, it's easy to conclude we are viewing nature as just one more thing to commoditize. However, our starting point for ecosystem services is that nature provides benefits we rely on for survival and quality of life. The truth of ecosystem services is that it is not about us dominating or controlling nature, it's about understanding our dependencies on nature.