Live Happily, Respect Nature

The concept of sustainability is hugely complex, but let's try to keep it simple: we understand sustainability as living a good life without hurting others; even more so, living a happy life while contributing net positive to society and the environment. We have the responsibility to inform ourselves, to engage, to listen, to cooperate. The UN Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a universal directive, and we need to break them down to the local, the collective, the personal level. At the MonViso Institute, sustainability is an experience, and adventure, a real-time act of compromises and balancing decision making - under uncertainty. Sustainability is fascinating - living healthy on a low environmental footprint, preserving the beauty and genius of nature, respecting local cultural values as much as oneself, finding design solutions inspired by nature, meeting pals alike, making an income with an honest mind. While we engage in science of and for sustainability, we showcase practical solutions on the MVI campus that everyone can explore, critically question, experience, and share.


Toward a common understanding of sustainability

A science perspective on defining sustainability

Drawn from years of experimentations with different visualizations, the “sustainabuild” conceptual model is proposed as a means to spur public sustainability discourse. The proposed visual sustainability concept offers an enriched conceptualization while simplifying complexity, focusing on key messages that extend beyond the established triple-bottom-line model.

Specifically, these are: the importance of respecting cultural values, the role of technology, the need for participation, and the systemic relation with the established three pillars, known as society, economy, ecology, or people, planet, and profit.

Citing from the original publication: Luthe T. and M. von Kutzschenbach. 2016. Building common ground in mental models of sustainability. Sustainability: The Journal of Record 9(5):247-254. DOI 10.1089/

Ecosystems as the Foundation of Sustainability

Ecosystems and the services we receive from them are the foundation of any human activity, but in the long term, human activity must not exceed the carrying capacity of ecosystems.

Social and Economic Wellbeing

What social and economic wellbeing mean is subjective and depends on individual perspectives, values, and demand, and the plurality of opinions.

Cultural Values

The balancing process between eco- nomic and social wellbeing based on a limited ecological foundation is subjective and dependent on cul- tural values, indicated by the see- saw balancing the economic and social wellbeing pillars.


Technology may enable individual social and economic well-being based on an intact ecological foun- dation not exceeding its carrying capacity.


The current challenges of our society require the inclusion of numerous different stakeholders and citizens. The participation bubble of the Sustainabuild model places people at the center of sustainability. Participation as a broad term entails different strengths and forms of participation, from information and discourse to personal and political engagement and action.


The MVI campus is a real-word laboratory for exploring, developing, experiencing, showcasing and questioning sustainability.