Design Goals -- What Does Sustainability Mean To You?

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Melanie Porras

Upon initial thought, sustainability means both environmental and social sustainability. This translates directly when thinking of sustainability and promoting a sustainable built environment since building sustainably must be focused on a building’s environmental and social impacts.

Environmental Sustainability

This pertains to exactly what it sounds like - the environment

  • Using materials that minimize embody carbon (abundant, locally sourced, minimize energy and water to manufacture, etc.)
  • Using materials that are durable and resilient to promote longevity
  • Designing buildings/spaces that are energy efficient and are powered through renewable sources (net zero site energy)
  • Designing buildings/spaces that minimizes land disruption
  • Designing buildings/spaces that minimize water disruption - reclaiming rainwater as graywater or using natural plantings throughout building
  • Some examples that promote Environmental Sustainability:
    • Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch (large windows to save on electricity usage from fans and AC, roof is covered by PVs, roof captures rainwater)
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    • California Academy of Sciences (green roof provides energy, controls waste water, and nourishes various plant specimens)
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    • Museum of the West in Scottsdale, AZ (uses local materials and simple building methods that evoke Western icons like woven baskets and the red cliffs of the Colorado Plateau)
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Social Sustainability

This relates to everything present in our society: people, work, politics, economy, etc.

  • Designing buildings/spaces that promotes the health and wellness of its occupants (natural day lighting and ventilation)
  • Designing buildings/spaces that are safe to construct and not put anyone’s life in danger
  • Using materials that are harvested and manufactured in a way that does not infringe on the rights of any community nor population - “ethically sourced materials”
  • Designing buildings/spaces that are a good investment of money and materials - does not require constant maintenance and renovations - typically, if designed sustainably, it is also economical
  • Some examples that promote Social Sustainability:
    • NYC Floating Island “Little Island” (public space promote health and wellness of public)
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    • UN Sustainable Development Goals (17 goals for a sustainable society)
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