What Does Sustainability Mean to You?

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Kimberly Juarez-Rico

Sustainability means following the Seventh Generation Principle, a philosophy of the Haudenosaunee indigenous confederacy, that states that any decisions made today should take into consideration what resources will be available seven generations into the future. It is an idea that our current world should only take what we need or contribute more than we take so that future generations can continue to do the same. Sustainability also means applying the Seventh Generation Principle to the three core elements of sustainable development: economic feasibility, environmental protection, and social equity. In a building, this can look like making sure the design of the building is accessible for all people regardless of physical ability, can be repurposed if it is is not needed for its original use anymore, and is made of materials that are recycled. Other elements of the building can include the systems within it that take advantage of passive cooling and heating and/or do not contribute emissions, among many other examples.

An example of the building that I have seen contribute to all three of the core pillars of sustainability is the One Central Park building in Sydney, Australia. It has over 250 species of Australian plants that reduce the amount of energy and financial resources needed to cool the building. The building is mostly residential, but is mixed use and can is accessible for people walking through the city to use. I took this picture of the building in 2019 not knowing much about the building until later:


Another example of a building that supports the principles of using renewable resources so that future generations still have resources available to them in the future is the Suzlon One Earth building in Pune, India. This building gets 80% of its energy from wind power and 20% of its energy from solar power. It is the headquarters of the wind energy company which supports the ideas and practices of the company to bring renewable energy resources: