Sustainability is a significant issue of our times. Considering the social as well as the environmental benefits resulting from sustainable development, it is a no-brainer to direct all concerted efforts towards this notable cause. Sustainability can be defined as the ability to fulfill today’s needs without affecting the ability to fulfill tomorrow’s needs.
Sustainable development is recently being actively pursued by several developers and planners; the following are the primary factors that have contributed to its relevance, awareness and prominence:
o Some countries have made it a legal requirement and included sustainable development in the regional and local policies.
o Agencies are setting standards for sustainable development and are making efforts to promote it.
o The UK government has included sustainable development in its policy among other environmental issues like carbon dioxide emission reduction.
The UK government has made some remarkable progress in light of the recent trend towards sustainable development. It has defined a set of indicators that measure the quality of life; these include social, economic and environmental issues. The ratings on these indicators help measure how well a project is faring on the sustainable development scale.
Sustainable development is not an option for high-profile projects alone; efforts are being made to make it increasingly more feasible for all project types and budgets. Sustainable development includes the use of sustainable materials, resources, and design which includes the location, orientation, structure, systems, construction, use and also the eventual disposal of waste. All these elements are significant and in order for sustainable development to initiate and flourish, all or at least a few should be sustainable.
Sustainability does not indicate that the elements should simply have the “recyclable” label. Each person involved at every step of the process should work to ensure that the recyclable products actually get recycled.
Design of a project is the chief consideration that establishes whether a project will really meet the sustainable development requirements. The various decisions involved throughout this comprehensive and cumbersome process will determine the quality of products and resources that will be available to the project team. As we are still early in the course of sustainable development, an approach of trying and learning from the results is needed to arrive at the “perfect” combination for a sustainable development project. The following are among the various considerations for sustainability:
o Resource extraction and depletion
o Land use
o Waste disposal
o Contamination of ground water and surface water
o Global warming
o Pollution of air, water, noise etc.
o Economic development
o Impact on communities
o Environmental degradation
o Habitat destruction
Our current method of construction and approaching a development project is taking a toll on the environment. To name a few impacts:
o Extraction of required materials consumes the rapidly-depleting non-renewable resources
o Waste generated is disposed into the sea or landfills
o Resulting pollution affects the atmosphere and the quality of life
o Waste of energy due to poor construction and rapid failing designs
The major factor that drives people towards or away from a sustainable development project is the cost. In an attempt to compete and win a contract, builders offer extremely low prices. This strategy, however, has some very adverse affects and, if not checked immediately, can lead to extremely harsh consequences for the environment and for the people.
Solutions to this problem have been ascertained and the implementation of these solutions requires a strong will and a commitment to improve the conditions and thereby, make a difference in the world. Although the economic cost of alternatives to sustainable development is low, the costs to the environment and the people are much higher. These costs include a reduced quality of life, dangerous health impacts, polluted air and many more. The sooner we realize the relevance of sustainable development, the better we will be at taking steps to flip the situation in our favor. Either we choose to get away with the monetary costs and pay the environmental costs or we learn to take responsibility and consequently, pay the economic costs for a better and healthier environment. Soon, the costs shall disappear into a better and healthier quality of life.
Another way to look at the costs might provide the required motivation to commit oneself to this approach. The economic costs that seem additional at present will transform into nothing. In a matter of a couple years, sustainable development will be the norm and the way of life and at this time, the owners of sustainable projects will be enjoying the edge. The extra costs will become savings then. Realizing the potential and benefits of sustainable development is an asset in itself and those who act intelligently on the available information will benefit.
The sustainable development solution is a choice at the moment but soon enough, this choice will turn into a mandatory obligation. And perhaps, then might be too late to reverse the damage that has been done and to correct the actions. We should take responsibility for our actions and should follow the sustainable development approach as this is a decision we will be proud of. Acquiring this approach is not just the rightful decision that will prove rewarding for ourselves but it is also the selfish decision. In no time, sustainable development will become the required standard for urban, suburban, residential as well as commercial development.