Design Futures Council Announces Changes to the Nantucket Principles with a new Commitment: The Portland Promise

We believe that architecture and the related design professions must lead the sustainable transformation of human habitat. The design professions including architecture, engineering, urban planning and construction have the capabilities to radically shift the relationship between humans and the environment and  to create systems that are truly sustainable.

The Nantucket Principles were formulated in 2002 and have been updated annually over the last ten years. The delegates to the Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design met each fall in different cities in North America to assess progress and chart future priorities.  

There is a dynamic sense of urgency in order to meet the design challenges of a rapidly and radically urbanizing world population that is putting the whole earth ecosystem at risk. For the first time more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and resource consumption is growing even more quickly than population. We must meet the urban growth challenges of the developing world by designing livable and smarter cities that are compact, walkable, transit-oriented and do not require ownership of a car.

Sustainability is no longer simply about conserving resources and reducing pollution. It also must energetically address quality of life and resilience to future changes. We understand, now more than ever, the value of the services that ecosystems provide: water and air purification, carbon sequestration, storm water management, food production and recreational opportunities, among others. We have new strategies to design buildings and places that enhance the environment and benefit society at the same time.

The imperative is to create regenerative relationships between the built and natural environments. No designs will be created that do not embody global best practices in sustainability. We must utilize state-of-the-art approaches. We also must adopt a new set of values, grounded in an understanding of the wider implications of our designs and in the importance of retrofitting our past work. We define our new design role as follows: to engage government, public policy and business opinion leaders worldwide in a constructive dialogue leading to the transformation of development practices.

We accept the responsibility to lead profound change through visionary design, for the good of humanity and for the good of nature.

We re-affirm the Nantucket Principles and put emphasis on the following agenda:

  1. Lead with vision and integrity
  2. Implement action plans for our firms’ own sustainability agendas
  3. Mandate firm and staff accountability
  4. Develop a culture where all staff are empowered as sustainability champions
  5. Seek external champions to guide the firm to thought-leadership in sustainability
  6. Develop interdisciplinary perspectives on sustainability within our firms
  7. Identify measurements of success: life cycles, issues, user success, durability, connection to the larger community
  8. Include sustainability in all design strategies

We need to broaden our voice of influence:

  1. Adopt the role of sustainable design champions within firms,with clients, and in our communities
  2. Build multidisciplinary teams with fields as diverse as economics, hydrology, and anthropology
  3. Engage with design, planning and public policy schools and listen to the students’ perspectives
  4. Connect with fellow design professionals, researchers and others to envision a sustainable future
  5. Advocate for sustainability skills evaluation in licensure and employee review

We seek to be inclusive with leaders in regions around the world to align larger development strategies that are in line with sustainable principles, including:

  1. Advance new transit solutions
  2. Preserve larger natural ecosystems
  3. Commit to existing urban centers
  4. Shift to energy sources that can last forever
  5. Eliminate the concept of waste
  6. Maximize efficiency in all energy, water, and waste systems
  7. Promote the development and use of sustainable building products and components

Under these Nantucket Principles, each delegate will take personal action steps to make a difference. Together, we are committed to strong leadership as exemplified at the Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design in Portland in 2012.

The components of our Portland Promise:

  1. We reaffirm the Nantucket Principles as edited
  2. We commit to environmental stewardship as professionals and as role models in our communities
  3. We strive for social equity
  4. We respect cultural values
  5. We create new economic vitality by design
  6. We support the creation of a living knowledge base on sustainability leadership
  7. We track and share a wide variety of metrics for sustainable projects including life cycle cost, energy performance and consumption, water use, post occupancy surveys, environmental health data, and community wellbeing
  8. We believe sustainability is an ethical and moral issue for the design professions to embrace
  9. We commit to the design of healthy environments
  10.  We take a lead role in developing robust public policies
  11. We support technological innovation
  12. We seek further education and training to meet our profession’s unique responsibility and to call others to action

Compelling evidence tells us there is a direct link between the sudden rise of preventable diseases and qualities of our built environment. We believe that a sustainable future can also be a high quality future for people around the globe. We believe that the design professions must take new and energetic steps to lead the sustainable transformation of the human habitat and to bring wise solutions that improve the relationship between humans and the environment and to create systems that are truly sustainable.


Delegates to the 11th Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design

Portland, Oregon September 10-12, 2012