Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quadruple Bottom Line Review

My Quadruple Bottom Line post has the highest traffic of any of my posts. Maybe it's worth revisiting. Except for a period where a comma is due, the post stands solidly after two years, but it could use a bit of dressing up...a few more examples, perhaps. 

The QBL approach is a riff on the standard Triple Bottom Line approach (People, Planet and Profit) which leaves out an organization's mission when making sustainability decisions - the fourth 'P' or Program.

QBL makes sure the the 'what' you do helps you make good green choices. When it comes down to choosing a one HVAC system over another, you wouldn't ignore the objects end of the decision, would you? Well, collections care is your Program. A QBL approach to choosing an HVAC system is critical.

Image from Brad Pouser
So, here's a simpler example. A museum converts the vacant lot next-door into a pizza garden and an outdoor teaching space. It could have been a parking lot. It could have been a tent venue. It could have been ignored. A QBL approach to choosing how to treat that space requires this type of thinking:

People: will users be safe, will neighbors be happy, will staff be able to support it?

Planet: what are the ecosystem services we can recreate, how can we limit impact or, better yet, be regenerative?

Profit: how can this be affordable and possibly an income source? Paving it or building a stormwater management solution for a parking lot is expensive; clearing, mulching and creating raised beds and a trellis is less expensive.  So is forgoing parking fees and party revenue.

Program: does a parking lot, a tent venue or a education space support our mission best? Can we program and rent the space to boost income while engaging more people at the museum?
QBL is not difficult. It is simply a valuable, but overlooked, way to approach a problem with all the values out front.

I'm interested in hearing about other examples of QBL thinking? Please share them here or at the  Green Museums Wiki. The more ideas we share, the more we have to call upon when we must make our own decisions.

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