Sustainable and Renewable Energy: What's the Difference?

A map of the world made with greens

Good for the planet, but in different ways

The planet—this great, blue orb we all inhabit—is surprisingly fragile. Sure, it’s made of durable stuff like rock, but there are other ways in which the Earth is susceptible to damage. We are all consumers by nature, and the resources we need to live– like electricity, oil, and natural gas — are limited in supply.

“We need more methods of powering our lives that don’t drain our limited resources.”

That is the essence of sustainable energy. The idea of sustainability originated in the late 80s with a report that circulated throughout Europe. Once introduced, it brought all the existing ideas of resource conservation under this one term.

Sustainability & Renewable Energy Snapshot

Once sustainability gained popular acceptance, people began to insert it into other conversations—like those centered around energy production. With sustainability serving as a blanket term, some confusion remains as to what sustainability really is and how it integrates with other key energy terms.

Sustainability sees the Earth as a limited resource. It’s a mindset that believes in operating in this world with greater efficiency so those operations can be sustained indefinitely. Renewable Energy, meanwhile, is a method of energy production that does not exhaust resources for its energy generation because it uses resources that can be renewed continually.



  • Thinking that guides the conscientious use of our natural resources
  • Can be applied to everything we do in business as well as at home
  • Includes using renewable energy sources

Renewable Energy

  • Processes or products to create energy with renewable resources
  • Only applies to specific methods of generating energy
  • Can be sustainable when executed correctly

While sustainability is a mindset and renewable energy is a method, both are environmentally-focused.

How to be Sustainable

Becoming more sustainable doesn’t take a lot of work. Simple things, like recycling, conserving water, and using LED lightbulbs, can make a significant impact in your energy efficiency.  Energy conservation – or simply, using less energy – is a common practice to be more sustainable. Many of us grew up learning to turn the lights off when we leave the room, turning the water off when we’re not using it, and keeping the thermostat turned down when you aren’t in the house. These are great examples of conserving energy.

Energy Conservation

  • A way of being green through lack of use, is a good sustainable practice.
    Energy-efficient items like LED bulbs and smart thermostats help us conserve energy.

Often, conservation is confused with efficiency. But energy efficiency does not necessarily limit the amount of energy being used. Energy efficiency, rather, is about reducing the amount of energy required to provide a service. For instance, many furnaces and air conditioners are energy efficient, but to actually conserve energy you would have to use them less often.

You can also take a step toward becoming more sustainable by enrolling in one of our go greenTM product options. Check us out online or give us a call at 888-995-0992 to get started today.

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