Sustainability has become a ‘hot’ topic in society in recent years. The new interest in maintaining Earth has been fuelled by the idea of global warming, which has led to an investment of our time and money into events such as Earth Day, which has in turn shone a spotlight on sustainability. In order to properly participate and alter our actions to suit a more sustainable focus, we need to know what it is and how to define it.
Sustainability is a relatively new term and area of study compared to other social and scientific fields of expertise. The definition of Sustainability is ‘the study of how natural systems function, how they produce the needs required and how they stay diverse’.
It is the ability to continue a defined behaviour and it takes into account how humans use a natural resource to sustain a modern lifestyle. By studying sustainability, we can understand how we can maintain, control and limit our impacts on natural systems and to know how to live in harmony with the natural world, rather than damaging it.
The major part of understanding sustainability is understanding that it is made of three sectors or tiers. These include the following:
- Environmental Sustainability: ‘The ability to maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely’
- Economic Sustainability: ‘The ability to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely.
- Social Sustainability: ‘The ability is the ability of a social system, such as a country to function at a defined level of social well-being indefinitely.
A cheat sheet rundown of the above is that this is about implementing systems, protocols and changes in the economic, environmental, social, government sectors within societies and countries that will maintain a level of health and certainty for the natural ecosystem of Earth.
As an architect, interior designer and landscape designer, I have witnessed the growth in concern and focus on building design and construction over the last fifteen years. In our field, architects are far more involved with the Environmental sector than the others.
When designing a building, it is vital to review and analyse the impacts present and future that have been a result and will be a result of design work and the life’s that occupy the space.
This goes for all of the above sectors however the bottom line is, know your impact to know how to change your impact for the better. Sustainability is a movement of evolution more than anything.
The Carousel would like to thank Alex Roth for this article.
Photo by Chris Barbalis