Inception | Sustainable community

The Definition

Sustainable development is defined because the development (community dwellings/housing) that meets the requirements of the current without sacrificing the power of future generations to satisfy their own needs.

One issue that limits the development of sustainable housing is the lack of accord over its definition. Conflict exists over whether the number one priority should be conserving the environment or meeting the needs of people.

Most of the housing projects that are identified as sustainable primarily focus on environmental and commercial dimensions of sustainability. The social equity side of sustainability is often ignored because the term ‘green housing’ is often used conversely with sustainable housing.

The Problem | Sustainable community

Despite the prominent challenges, we are also observing positive changes that foster the conception of more sustainable housing. Such changes incorporate initiatives to encourage higher density transit-oriented development, sturdy homes, and green construction, and also the architectural designs that promote neighborhood walkability. The adverse environmental impact of current housing patterns is certainly drawing more public attention, especially on the issue of global warming. The high cost of community dwellings can also negatively affect regional economies, as people have less disposable income that puts communities at a competitive drawback when compared to areas having lower housing costs.


The flourishing design of a valid quality sustainable housing project depends on the scale struck between an array of factors. Issues such as accessibility, safety, privacy, community interplay, availability of relevant services, and the plan of sufficient space, should be given due weight. The necessities and cognitive expectations of residents are of primary importance. The ideal family dwelling will be required to meet the needs of infants, young children, grown-ups, and older people, either independently or in alliance. The design should be adequately resilient to meet such calls over the foreseeable life of the building. Moreover, it is necessary to plan and design the scheme within a specified duration and to ensure that it can be constructed under a pleasant time and cost parameter. The achievement of a successful upshot also presents a significant architectural challenge.

It is relevant to note that the housing sector can significantly add to sustainability due to its intimate connection with environmental aspects. Let’s now note the potential benefaction of community dwellings to sustainability. 

  • They consume a lot of resources in construction and maintenance.
  • They are a fixed asset with a sustained operational lifespan.
  • They are among the major necessities for a good quality of life and thus have associations beyond.
  • They are tractable to numerous ways in which recycled materials can be reused for construction.
  • A vast number of innovations are possible for efficiently operating buildings like the use of recycled material, wastewater treatment, energy competence, solar heating, and passive solar heating.
How can we create more sustainable community dwellings? - Sheet1
Sustainable community-Cedar Hills Development, New Mexico ©

The 30-unit cedar hills development provides affordable rental housing, supporting services and opportunities to carry on the tribe’s traditions. Responsive to tribal members’ suggestions for more affordable housing, the project has garnered substantial community support. Cedar Hills reflect traditional housing while including modern features that provide convenience and sustainability. The project has courtyard and rooftop patios that are meant to foster spontaneous encounters among residents. A goal of development was to preserve the rich cultural heritage through informal meetings and planned events in the site. The need for more rental housing led to the seeking of this project. 

The Hows? | Sustainable community

We can be triumphant in achieving these potentials by ensuring some guidelines which include:

  • supporting high standards in the design and the provision of a suburban facility in new housing schemes;
  • promoting the best use of land and optimum utilization of infrastructure;
  • leading the way to cost-effective options for community-dwelling design that go beyond codes and standards;
  • fostering essential standards of environmental performance and persistence in housing construction;
  • endeavoring to ensure that occupants of new housing enjoy the benefits of prime living conditions in a healthy, accessible, and visually charming environment; and
  • providing habitats that may be easily managed and maintained.

It is considered that a good quality sustainable housing development should be socially, environmentally and architecturally apt. It must also be Resource-efficient.

1. Site Selection 

The adoption of the site is arguably the sole most vital consideration in the process of producing community dwellings. Constituents such as the location, size, and accessibility of a site, and its proximity to facilities are relevant to the future advancement of a self-sustaining community.

2. Design Brief, Procurement and Cost Control

The conventional approach to the layout of any housing scheme needs:

  • a clear expression of what the client needs and the parameters within which the designer must perform;
  • speedy identification of the persons within the client organization who will be responsible for making decisions concerning the scheme; and
  • suitable architectural and other professional data from the source.

3. Urban Design Objectives | Sustainable community

The key aim of urban design is to produce sustainable neighborhoods by the creation of a high efficiency built environment. This can be achieved by reducing the necessity to travel, particularly by personal vehicles for profession, education, and recreation, and to avail of aids and amenities essential for living. 

In the outlining, planning, and advancement of residential areas, the principal method of achieving this intention is to ensure that the design takes a decent account of the setting in which any proposed development will breathe and elevates the idea of the compact and walkable neighborhood.

Added features of sustainable neighborhoods include:

  • compact, energy-efficient, and high-quality urban construction;
  • convenience via public transport networks and also meeting the requirements of the pedestrian and cyclist; and
  • provision of a healthy range of facilities within ease.

4. Scheme Layout and Design

Where a proposed development occupies a section that is a part of some bigger development, an Action Plan or Local Area Plan should be prepared. The plan must outline the possible uses for the positioning and indicate their relationship to their surroundings. The layout of any proposed housing should be planned to boost the attractiveness of the general area for all residents and shall be properly integrated within the realm. Also, an Urban Framework plan should address the structure and layout of development blocks, streets, buildings, and open spaces along with the spatial-interrelationship among the elements. It should provide the premise for integration or detailed design of individual elements of developments, existing, or proposed for a part. The elements include Landmarks, Gateways, Links, Nodes, and Edges. 

How can we create more sustainable community dwellings? - Sheet2
Sustainable community-Control System for Promoting Sustainable Housing Design  ©

The main considerations underpinning the approach to the general design of a housing scheme should be the requirement to facilitate an honest quality of life for the residents, secure the long-term sustainability of the event and enhance the environment of the world as a full.

A key aim within the design of any housing scheme should be to confirm that it’s socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable by:

  • providing a prime quality environment that meets the wants and, as far as possible, the preferences of the residents and fosters the event of the community;
  • achieving energy efficiency both at construction stage and through the lifetime of the scheme, e.g., by climate-sensitive design which takes account of the orientation, topography and surrounding features so on control wind effects, while optimizing the advantages of daylight and solar gain;
  • having due relation to the social and environmental consequences related to the development process and therefore the use of materials and resources, e.g., minimizing the employment of water and energy in construction, making efficient use of land, minimizing the employment of scarce non-renewable materials and using renewable resources and materials that have minimal environmental consequences, wherever practicable;
  • integrating the new housing into the present natural and built environment in an exceedingly way that produces a positive contribution to the general environment of the locality; and
  • composing individual houses so that they’re comfortable, flexible to changing needs, cost-effective to create an economy to manage and maintain.
How can we create more sustainable community dwellings? - Sheet3
The Rose – Minneapolis, Minnesota ©

The Rose includes a garden, irrigated with storm water, where residents can grow vegetables and learn about healthy foods. The Rose includes solar thermal panels to help meet Living Building challenge Standards. A condensation wall decorating the courtyard between the Rose’s two buildings is visible evidence of the resident’s reduced energy use. 

How can we create more sustainable community dwellings? - Sheet4
409 Cumberland Avenue Apartments, Portland ©

The Rooftop garden that is a part of comprehensive planning calls for a sustainable food production.

The primary design aim should be to form visually attractive dwellings that will provide appropriate accommodation and good quality living environments for prospective occupants. Dwellings should be suited to the wants of the occupants and be designed to possess reasonable levels of cost-in-use over their full lifetime concerning maintenance.

Insofar as possible, the designer should consider the actual needs and preferences of the longer-term occupants and their likely response to particular design solutions. A frank discussion with future occupants is preferable but not always possible. Within the case of social housing, the designer might have to depend upon the guidance of the housing authority and other public service agencies.

Cessation | Sustainable community

Sustainable community dwellings need to be designed to maximize occupants’ well-being and minimize the environmental load. The pursuit of linking these two distinct aspects of sustainability is a goal-oriented job. We need to produce a comprehensive control system for promoting sustainable housing design in which sustainable design guidelines and sustainability checklists are incorporated.

With the illustration of the production and revision processes of the design guidelines, we can come to a comprehensive visualization that can make these processes more manageable and help system artists to devise and revise the guidelines more efficiently.

Also, planners must join with diverse stakeholders to support increasing resources for holistic approaches to sustainable housing development, recognizing the connections between the social, economic, and environmental dimensions.


Shanika Nishi is currently majoring in architecture. With avid interest in reading and research, she has been regularly penning down her ideas into poems. She has a vision of contributing vivaciously to the profession &further while honing her knowledge. She also believes that ‘We must do what little we can.’