Date: 27 Apr, 2019


The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

When applying this complex concept to architecture, it then refers to design that creates healthy living environments while aiming to minimize negative environmental impacts, energy consumption, and use of human resources.

Sustainable architecture is reflected in a building’s materials, construction methods, resource use and design in general. The design must also facilitate sustainable operation during the building life cycle, including its ultimate disposal. While it has to be functional and aesthetically superior, the space has to be constructed with the mind-set of achieving long-term energy and resource efficiency.

Sustainable architecture is also referred to as green architecture or environmental architecture. It challenges architects to produce smart designs and use available technologies to ensure that structures generate minimal harmful effects to the ecosystem and the communities.
If you are not from the construction world, it may be difficult to get your head around this concept so giving an over simplistic example at this stage may be necessary.
Imagine that there is a plot of land that you think is conveniently located for you to build your house. The problem, however, is that there are 100 trees planted on it and that these trees are the last of their kind. If sustainability is not a concern, what you’ll probably do is cut down all the trees to clear the space and use all the lumber to build your house – not caring if nobody else gets the chance to use the same kind of trees in the future.

This is the opposite of sustainable architecture. Sustainable architecture means putting environmental factors into consideration:

  • • Is there a nearby piece of land you can use instead?
  • • How can you use some of the wood from the trees without completely depleting the entire plantation so others can also benefit?
  • • Could you perhaps still build your house in the space without cutting down all the trees?

These are just some factors that should be considered when approaching the sustainable concept in design and construction. Sustainable architecture needs to recognize the existing natural resources and environmental conditions in the construction site and how to incorporate these into the build.