Primer

Sustainability: Too Much or Not Enough?

The drive toward sustainable design is a long one. Are we there yet?

The green building community has wrestled with the concept of sustainability since the United Nations first defined sustainable development in 1987 as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

“Nothing is more boring” than sustainability, William McDonough, FAIA, has said. “Are you proud if your marriage is ‘sustainable’?” We need to do more than conserve resources, many observers contend, aiming instead to renew ecosystems and increase biodiversity. Practitioners of regenerative design have attempted to leave the natural systems on their building sites in better shape than they found them. Designers participating in the Living Building Challenge must achieve net-zero resource consumption while giving equal weight to aesthetics and human health.

Published March 1, 2013