Updated: Nov 14, 2017
In an era of rapid urbanization and modernization, what is sustainability and what is sustainable design? How and where does urbanization and sustainable design meet? .
Many New Yorker's are familiar with the concept of "going green" as it has been highly marketed and propagandized in the last couple of years. Images of organic food markets and tote bags are just some of the visuals to first come to many's mind. But what is sustainability, a term that is largely used and heard today and more importantly what is sustainable design?
“Sustainable design is the theory of designing physical objects, the built environment and services to comply with the principal's of social, economic and environmental sustainability.”
#Urbanization refers to the process of the human population shifting from rural to urban areas such as cities and the ways in which each society adapts to that change. But what are the consequences of urbanization? How can and should people co-exist in large numbers in relatively small spaces? And more importantly, can urbanization be sustainable?
The most accepted definition of #Sustainability is "sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own." It is made up of the famous Three Pillars: economic, environmental and social or profits, planet and people. In essence, sustainability is something that promotes or enhances economic development (profit), protects the environment (planet) and improves human society (people).
#Sustainable design on the other hand is a little more precise. Sustainable design is the theory of designing physical objects, the built environment and services to comply with the principals or pillars of sustainability. It's intention is to eliminate negative environmental impacts through skillful, sensitive design, connect people with the natural environment, impact the environment minimally (if at all), use renewable resources, be respectful of environmental and social differences and generate long-term relationships between the three pillars.
Sustainable design has the following generally accepted principals;
A. Use of low impact materials and nontoxic
B. Energy efficiency
C. Durable design- design things that can withstand and last
D. Design for reuse or recycling
E. Biomimicry- copy from nature and its natural systems
F. Service Substitution- shift mode of consumption from personal ownership of products to provision of services which provide similar functions (sharing in English.)
G. Renewable resources: resources that are local or bio-regional.
“Sustainable design is the key to urbanization.”
OKAY. Now that these terms are hopefully understood and defined, lets get back to the bigger question. What are the consequences of urbanization? How can and should people co-exist in large numbers in relatively small spaces? And more importantly, can urbanization be sustainable?
The consequences of urbanization are large and many but for the most part are pollution, disease and high-density. Now, as a native New Yorker I both love and hate my city as I think a lot of people can relate and I am not protesting against urbanization, on the contrary I strongly support it- in a sustainable way of course. Humans since the beginning of times live in groups but we have become urban creatures sharing smaller spaces in large numbers.
In my perspective, urbanization should be sustainable- it should promote economic development, protect the environment and improve human society and to best achieve that the key is sustainable design. If as a collected community we can design our spaces to be less toxic, to enhance wellness and our health rather than degrade it, to consume less and more efficiently and learn to harmonize ourselves with Nature- we can continue to evolve and become a more innovative and modern society while not destroying ourselves and Nature. Sustainable design is the key to urbanization because it pushes us to become less selfish, to think about our children, neighbors, city and our natural environment while helping to enhance our lifestyle in a more healthy way.