The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainability as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
When this complex concept is applied to architecture, it then refers to design that creates healthy living environments while aiming to reduce negative environmental impacts, energy consumption, and human resource use.
Sustainable architecture is reflected in building materials, construction methods, resource use, and design in general. The design should also facilitate sustainable operation during the life cycle of the building, including its eventual disposal. While it must be functional and aesthetically superior, the space must be built with the mindset of achieving long-term energy and resource efficiency.
Sustainable architecture is also referred to as green architecture or ecological architecture. It challenges architects to produce intelligent designs and use available technologies to ensure that structures generate minimal adverse effects to the ecosystem and communities.
If you’re not into the construction world, it can be hard to get a spin on this concept, so an oversimplified example may be necessary at this point.
Imagine that there is a plot of land that you think is suitable for you to build your home. But the problem is that there are 100 trees planted in it and these trees are the last of their kind. If sustainability isn’t a concern, what you’ll likely do is cut down all the trees to free up space and use all the wood to build your home – don’t care if no one else gets a chance to use the same type of tree in the future.