28 Apr ’14
Developments in Sustainable Housing
Developments in sustainability have been on the rise as many countries favor the idea of protecting and maintaining the environment. Sustainability is described as, “not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.” 1 More specifically, sustainable housing is the idea of building homes that are environmentally stable so that next generations do not have to compensate for the previous generation but can instead focus on their own environmental needs. This could mean being efficient in energy, water, and land consumption, securing health-related topics, and decreasing various pollutions in the environment. 2
Sustainable housing projects all over the United States and world are being implemented with hopes of creating a more eco-friendly environment. An example of one of these projects is being conducted by a man who is wanting to build a community with 225 homes that meet standards of expanding open areas and protecting natural surroundings. 3 The developer, Eric Olsen, said, “I think it will fulfill the long-term dream of creating a sustainable, interesting, liveable community.” 3
Sustainability development projects have become a more popular trend within architects and builders of homes as well as other infrastructures in the United States. Some of the top three most sustainable architecture projects in the United States, according to Karissa Rosenfield, are Arizona State University Student Health Services, the Bud Clark Commons in Portland, and the Bushwick Inlet Park in New York. 2 These structures, along with seven others, will be rewarded the for their “sustainable design excellence.”
These projects have also been growing in others countries like, “Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, England, Germany, and South Africa.” 5 Sheri Koones, author of the book titled Prefabulous World: Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe, believes that any home can be made out of modern, eco-friendly materials. Her book mentions homes from all over the world that share the goal of creating an efficient infrastructure despite their various methods of making them.
The idea of sustainability in our culture is a way to appreciate the green methods of building and constructing homes. This idea is growing rapidly especially in areas that realize the potential danger of their environment due to current methods of construction. Sustainability in homes is efficient, more manageable and will provide a balance that the future world will thank us for.
I love the idea of sustainable housing in developing countries. Sustainable housing doesn’t just have to be a modern luxury, it can also be seen as a great alternative for development projects. When development agencies go to developing countries to help build schools or wells, it would be fantastic to also introduce methods for sustainable living to prevent the costs that normally come along with modernization such as water and electricity. One sustainable housing project I have come across is Earthship. Earthship homes are completely made of recycled materials and provide food, water, and temperature control naturally. They are now being built around the world in the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and India.
I think it’s really interesting that we’re now striving for sustainability, something many ancient civilizations have managed to master. There are many examples of structures that are still standing today after hundreds of years, yet sometimes our structures need constant maintenance in order to stay fully-functional. The main difference is that we strive for performance and comfort while the ancient civilizations understood better what it meant to meet the current generation’s needs without compromising the ability for future generations to meet their own needs.
One of the most important things to think about in regards to sustainability as we enter the future is that we have to consider how it will be integrated into other societies and cultures as well as the impact it might have. Do you think there’s some insight to be gained from borrowing aspects and techniques from other cultures over the next few years.
It’s great that our society is continually striving for better sustainability options and increasingly constructing buildings and planning communities that are more environmentally friendly. However, do you think it is feasible for an entire community or even country to become completely sustainable? There are always going to be people who are either unaware and uneducated about sustainability, or those who simply do not have the resources to make better sustainable choices. How could we account for those gaps in the shift towards sustainability?
As a residential design major, the idea of sustainable housing is a concept taught to us everyday. As the architect/designer/ or contractor it is our job to see through that we can make our homes as energy and environmentally stable as possible. With the help of our homeowners, we can keep their visions wants and needs alive that they want in their homes, and keep it Eco-friendly. By using EnergyStar appliances in the kitchen, we can cut energy costs in a major way, not only good for energy consumption, but a plus for the household’s utility bills as well. WaterSense plumbing fixtures are another way to conserve water at no additional maintenance or inconvenience to the family. All of these household appliances and fixtures are an easy way to keep the home green. As a designer, it’s an idea I will always promote!
I really hope as more and more knowledge of sustainable housing is discussed it continues to get implemented into actual use. It is great that all this information is being obtained and it must be enacted to actually have an impact. The longer we continue to build inefficient homes the quicker land and resources gets used up. I find it fascinating what human ingenuity into the spaces we live in can bring.