Why Sustainability Is the New Buzzword

Why Sustainability Is the New Buzzword

We, as a human race, had taken our natural resources and environment for granted and led highly unsustainable lives for decades. With depleting resources, polluting environment and inequitable distribution of wealth, we are witnessing the ill effects of our selfish lifestyles and detrimental patterns of consumption and production. Concerns loom large over the sustainability of basic survival needs such as food and clean drinking water.

What is sustainability? Sustainability, perhaps the least understood word, can be defined as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Not only does it mean efficient use of resources whereby humans live in perfect harmony with other organisms as well as nature, but also entails equitable social progress and stable economic growth.

Sustainability primarily has three components: environmental conservation, social responsibility and economic development. It strives to improve environmental health through clean air, natural resources and non-toxic waste as well as the quality of life through sustained and equitable economic growth. Sustainable living is the need of the hour, the practice of which should be start at the very basic level.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING: STARTS WITH ME AND MY HOME

Sustainable living comes from within. We need to be conscious about our way of life and how it contributes to the environment. In small ways like cab sharing, cycling to local markets, and putting off unnecessary lights you can promote sustainability. On a slightly greater scale, you can:

1. Create your compost: Creating compost from the organic waste of your kitchen can save you money that you would otherwise have had to spend on harmful, chemical fertilizers.
2. Grow your own produce: You can create your own apartment garden [Link for the apartment garden blog] and source fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
3. Use efficient water fixtures: In your homes, you could use efficient showers, toilets and other water using appliances. You should fix that dripping tap before you end up wasting gallons of water.
4. Renewable energy sources: Harnessing energy from wind, water and sun is perhaps the best example of sustainable development.
5. Crop rotation: Commercial farmers as well as home gardeners can use crop rotation to maximize the potential of the land without using chemicals
6. Sustainable forestry: Timber companies replace each tree they harvest by planting new trees to support environmentally responsible forestry practice.
7. Sustainable fishing practice: With an increasing population, the demand for fish has been on the rise. In order to maintain the ecological balance in natural water bodies, fish farmers are raising fish in ponds or tanks for food.
8. Build sustainable structures: Building energy-efficient structures that use renewable and recycled resources.

SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION

Sustainability in construction starts with planning and designing the building, then sourcing raw material and continues until the structure is complete and inhabited. Although the idea of demolishing is farfetched at this stage, sustainability also factors that in. Sustainable construction takes into consideration various other stakeholders such as the community and the environment. For instance, you need to consider the disposal of toxic waste, if it is generated during the construction process. You could also use methodologies that promote the use of non-renewable energy sources during the construction process. The bottom line is that sustainable and green buildings are investments that generate high returns, as there is increasing awareness and demand for energy-efficient buildings that are made from responsibly sourced materials.

The OECD estimates that buildings in developed countries account for more than forty percent of energy consumption over their lifetime (raw material production, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning). Since they also contribute a large percentage to the landfill waste as well as to carbon emissions, it is imperative to consider the viability of smart, green and sustainable structures [Link to the blog on smart commercial buildings] that incorporate renewable and recycled resources. These structures harvest rainwater and use renewable sources of energy for lighting/heating/cooling.

Since over half the world’s population lives in urban areas, there is an urgent need to come up with sustainable ideas for constructing homes, offices and other structures. While new technologies are constantly being developed, the focus should remain on sustainability.

Few techniques for sustainable building construction

1. Construction Waste Management
2. Recyclable Material Selection
3. Prefabricating materials in controlled environment
4. Lean manufacturing to reduce energy