Achieving sustainable solutions to today's energy and environmental problems requires long-term planning and actions. Energy issues are particularly prevalent at present and renewable energy resources appear to provide one component of an effective sustainable solution. An understanding of the thermodynamic aspects of sustainable development can help in taking sustainable actions regarding energy. In this article, possible future energy-utilization patterns and related environmental impacts, potential solutions to current environmental problems, energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies and their relations to sustainable development, and how the principles of thermodynamics via exergy can be beneficially used to evaluate energy systems and technologies as well as environmental impacts are discussed. Throughout the article, current and future perspectives regarding thermodynamics and sustainable development are also considered. The results will likely be useful to scientists and engineers as well as decision and policy makers.