Tribute to sustaineers

(sustainability begins with design)

We dedicate this list to the pioneers and engineers of sustainability, aka the sustaineers.

A sustaineer is a person or group with unique influence on sustainability and triple-bottom lines. Through wit. Passion. Constructively.

Their early actions sowed seeds advancing sustainability:


George Perkins Marsh

His book Man And Nature (1864) aptly described our effects on nature and shaped awareness leading to sustainability


Lundberg Family Farms

Choosing sound ecological farming practices from its small start in 1937 to its present size of extensive farmland

Rodale Institute

Pioneering live research on enriching soil with sustainable agriculture, and educating the public and farmers globally  (1940)

Buckminster Fuller

His designs helped open up new possibilities and inspire sustainable architecture.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Her book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947) rebranded a "worthless" swamp as a treasured river

Aldo Leopold

A hunter and wilderness geek, for frank writings that enlightened many readers and for his work to preserve wild ecosystems

Malcolm Wells

Inspired "gentle architecture" and earth-sheltered buildings in balance with natural surroundings

Yutaka Fujitani

Collected donations en masse from throughout Japan to conserve the natural beauty of Shiretoko  (1970s)

Seed Savers Exchange

Working to preserve the world's heirloom seeds and protect crop diversity  (1975)

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield

Advancing social responsibility in business with ice cream (1983)

Jan VanderTuin

Brought community-supported agriculture into the mainstream  (1984)

The Green Building Council

Leading the way to guide and certify the sustainability of buildings  (1993)


Greenling Organic Delivery

for its authentic sustainability, partnering with local farmers to help them and local foods prosper  (2001)

John Janssen / GreenTown

for their efforts in helping transform the town of Greensburg into a model of sustainability for the world  (2007)

Michael Pawlyn

Modeling nature to build super efficient architecture and to create closed loop systems that reuse waste  (2007)

R.A. Mashelkar

Teaching how LESS resources can bring MORE useful things to MORE people

B Lab

for its constructive solutions that also make it easier for people to tell “good companies” from good marketing  (2008)

Postgreen Homes

A model in constructing homes that are sustainable and affordable  (2009)

Open Source Ecology

for its Do-It-Yourself, modular toolset that enables people globally to build small, sustainable civilizations  (2010)

Ellen Dunham

Rethinking how city suburbs can be retrofitted more usefully and sustainable

Honorary mentions...

Other facets of sustaineering include people striving to:

· Nurture effective learning and sharing of knowledge.

· Make workplaces more enjoyable, healthy, and liberating.

· Treat causes of ailments not just symptoms (without introducing complications).

· And optimize health through nutrition and fitness.

As such, these people get honorary mentions:

William King / Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society

Inspired co-ops on honest foods, honest prices, good working conditions, the importance of education, and integrating with society (1800s)

Luke Bucklin

Made all employees Co-President of his company


Empowering its employees to be more active, healthy, entertained, well fed, and fulfilled by their work

(Sustaineers of least invasive surgery for treating people)

Dr. Quyen Nguyen and Roger Tsien

Encouraged teamwork to color-code healthy or mutated tissue for safer surgeries

Yoav Medan

Developing surgery to treat disease without invasive cutting

(Sustaineers that develop and share tools for more effective learning)

Emily Pilloton

Sharing design and strategies to transform schools while also enhancing their communuties

Khan Academy

Universally free lessons that also help to improve classroom teaching

(Sustaineers of health and fitness that's based on sound evidence)


Suggest an honorary mention or a sustaineer candidate for this category!