Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “sustainable” as an adjective that means a resource is “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed.” In agricultural and environmental circles, defining what constitutes a sustainable crop or practices is much more difficult to define. To the consumer, the basic tenants of producing agricultural crops that are sustainable requires sound production practices that do not negatively impact soil or water health, wildlife, and other factors. They are right, those are important pieces of sustainability. However, those active in the production of agricultural crops see the environmental sustainability of a crop as only one of three legs of sustainability. Beyond environmental sustainability, crop systems must also be economically sustainable to the producer. The grower must be able to earn an income from the operation for it to continue. The third component of sustainability is social, indicating the desire for the local community to benefit from the operation at hand. Social sustainability can be measured by job creation, positive treatment of field workers, educational opportunities, and other factors.
Evaluating biomass production through the lens of sustainability is a core value of Genera Energy. We constantly evaluate our operations to make sure we address each core area of sustainability. We believe we must be good stewards of our environment and community in all that we do. To instill that principle into our employees and partners, Genera has been proactive in the development of principles, criteria, and standards for biomass production across the industry. Certification standards have been used in many industries, including forest products and construction. Certification standards are typically structured to provide independent, third-party reviews of the process or product being produced. This independent review allows for a transparent and unbiased review and rating of the players in each industry. The consumer then can make purchasing decisions based upon these certification. In biomass, Genera was a founding board member of the Council on Sustainable Biomass Production, a coalition of industry, academic, environmental, and social organizations who collaborated to develop standards for agricultural biomass production. This organization has transformed into BMAS: Biomass Market Access Standards for the further development of standards for agricultural and s