What Does Sustainability Mean to You?

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Your Name
Catherine Nguyen

To me, sustainability is striving to be indefinite and self-sufficient while causing as little negative impact as possible. To put this idea in terms of buildings, indefiniteness is analagous to having a long useable life not only due to excellent structural integrity, but also its functionality for beneficial use over many generations. Self-sufficiency would refer to sustainability goals such as energy and water use efficiency, and in the most ideal case making these closed-loop systems. Ideally, the building would have minimal impact on its surroundings; this encompasses the ‘harmfulness’ of the building’s materials and its demands/waste output, among other things. Ways to minimize impact are to utilize sustainable building materials, reduce demands on external resources such as electricity and water (path towards self-sufficiency), and on a higher level considering all consequences of any design decisions.

My ideal vision of sustainability focuses on environmental and social benefits, but is likely not practical considering cost. The sustainable building of my dreams would likely have large initial construction costs and large operating costs over its lifetime. Therefore, I’d have to make informed decisions to set realistic sustainability goals and meet them cost-effectively.

What Inspirational Examples Can We Learn From? https://www.cnn.com/style/article/green-buildings-world-sustainable-design/index.html


Jewel Changi Airport (Singapore)

BCA Green Mark certified

Energy efficient (self adjusting reflector panels, strategic placement for HVAC system, energy efficient cooling+lighting equipement)

Diverts foodwaste from incineration —> wastewater!

Greywater reuse, water efficient fixtures in place

Public outreach and awareness: Uses signage for recycling, encourages reduced plastic consumption

Comments: Environmentally sustainable practices in place, has a green building certification super pretty so contributes to wellness, and also does some outreach and education regarding sustainability


ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall (Fukuoka, Japan)

Land space was very limited, existing occupants pissed that their green space was going to get taken up but architect came up with a solution by placing greenery on 15 terraces. The greenery moderates building temp. and provides habitat for native birds. Great example of compromise with “stakeholders” and ingenuity.


Eastgate Center (Harare, Zimbabwe)

Biomimicry - Uses clay material that termites use to keep their mounds at constant temperature. Doesn’t use conventional cooling/heating system!