Reading through the targets laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the sustainable development of human beings and the planet, one will come across tenets like ending poverty and inequality, ensuring that all people enjoy health, justice, prosperity, etc. These aims are very sound and direct at preserving the species of our planet. But which are necessary and which can wait? And do they all lead to sustainable development? Well, some doubts remain unanswered.
Let us ask a few rudimentary questions | Sustainable development
- What does sustain mean?
- What does sustainable mean?
- What is sustainable development?
- Are these just other words in the dictionary?
These questions seem too uncomplicated to even refer to the thesaurus. Still, upon re-learning, we’ll startle ourselves by realizing the direction we are heading in, first, and secondly, question ourselves over really abiding and interpreting the meanings we learned back in school to the current day. One will also feel confused over knowing how these terms look related but different.
The same set of questions, when asked or applied to the field of architecture, will yield the same aims and queries too. Wherever we see around, we are surrounded by buildings. Various typologies and diverse programs have led to an upsurge in building and construction activities. With buildings being the answer to convenience and need, the rise has left every prediction and forecast way behind to catch up on.
In architecture, the term sustainable development is highly talked about. Architects, planners, real estate developers, and all those related to the field have, at least once, come across the term. The ones who understand it, produce prototypes that go a long way in preserving values more than resources. However, there are a lot of efforts to be taken. There is a separate section of these people who are not bothered by the term but only care about profits.
When something is going to be built, many processes take place to produce the final model. From the execution to the finalization, so many operations transpire. In terms of carbon footprint, the rate of emissions at each stage is so massive that we’d be lying to ourselves if we said we were taking care of our ecosystem. But to be honest, this looks like it is the only way to move forward and is inevitable, unless a new invention materializes. But what matters is when the structure is being thought of, are the users being considered well, and whether they are being made a part of the design process. Is the longevity of the structure thought of? Is there enough emphasis on the use of natural light and ventilation? Will the system mix up well with its surroundings, and are the materials being used safely for the people, especially the workers? Is there enough research behind the impact on the end users and their well-being, and many more questions leading to sustainable development?
Respecting the setting and context, digging into materials available locally, and finding ways to implement them in projects is more of a subconscious approach that needs to be formed. We have read hundreds of articles, watched thousands of videos, and attended conferences for sustainable developments and climate action plans to protect our globe. This has been happening for decades, and we’ll keep reading, watching, and attending more in the coming years. Our visions are still blurred, yet finding ripostes to the insults we have drubbed on ourselves.
Sustainability is a choice, not a law, that must be abided by. But this is where we face the issue. When left to choose, we tend to choose convenience at the cost of health and the future. Architecture is not an accusation in the case of sustainability but a victim of our choices. We have been persistently hearing about the terms like sustain, sustainability, development, sustainable development, and whatnot being flagged in almost all domains of our lifestyles. We are still not clear with our basics, lured by our ego, chasing only to reach the climax quicker. Awareness has gone for a toss, further away from our subconscious, and growth is heading in a direction that is murky, if not blind.
Emissions from not only widespread construction activities around the globe but also any and every activity supporting human life are alarming. But the good news is we are all aware and yet choose to be ignorant. The solutions are right in front, floating for anyone to grab and use. Nonetheless, our ego is insatiable and quite the answer for all possible evils. Our talk of sustainable development, in the first place, shows the mess created by all of us, knowingly or unknowingly. Instead of stopping it, we are finding solutions to counter it only so we can continue doing what we are doing more.
We wish to protect our environment only as much as we can gain more from it for our gains. The focuses of sustainable development are not only applicable to buildings and built environments but to all aspects and facets of our life. The right frame of mind is the cue towards mass-producing and churning substantial ideas that support all the species of our planet without exerting unwanted and fleeting pressure on resources. The resources are getting scarce day by day and also staring at extinction.
Though there are no correct answers on the main focuses of sustainable development, the three listed below are powerful enough to set us on the virtuous path.
- Resilience: By continuing despite challenges, finding the right solutions to fix the wrong we’ve done, and safeguarding future generations.
- Persistence: By continuing to find the remedies by researching ways and techniques to become environmentally sound.
- Self-control: By being aware of our needs, not affecting other species, and only acquiring what’s needed.
Though this passage might look like one from a child’s textbook, it is the key to finding a new portal toward renewed sustenance. The main focus of sustainable development should be you, me, and us. Yes, it’s not some fancy jargon or keywords, but the power of thinking, thinking enthusiastically about the right kind of germination, under the aptest contexts, by each of us, individually and collectively.
- World Health Organization (2020). World Health Organization. [online] Who. int. Available at: https://www.who.int/.
- Compare the Difference Between Similar Terms. (2012). Difference Between Sustainability and Sustainable Development. [online] Available at: https://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-sustainability-and-vs-sustainable-development/.
- Youmatter (2021). Sustainability – What Is It? Definition, Principles And Examples. [online] Youmatter. Available at: https://youmatter.world/en/definition/definitions-sustainability-definition-examples-principles/.