Before approaching sustainable architecture, it is important to be clear about what the concept of “sustainability” contain:
What does “sustainable” mean? The origin of the word probably comes from the German expression “nachhaltig”. The word has its roots in the verb “nachhalten” (“anhalten”) which means “for a longer time lasting” (persistent). Nature has only “persistent” cycles – with a few exceptions. While the activities of “modern man” on earth have little signs of “continuous” cycles – with the exception of continuous destruction. Here we can learn a lot from the natural people, who live more in balance with nature.
This “constitution” for the life cycle in nature was already described by Hans Carl von Carlowitz, (1645-1714) a government employee in the Kingdom of Saxony, who was responsible for mining and with this also for the forests. With Sylviculturaoeconomica (natural instruction for the cultivation of wild trees, 1713), he wrote the first complete work for “sustainable” forestry and is considered to be an essential creator of the concept of forestry sustainability = Nachhaltigkeit. Need for such thinking arose through large-scale deforestation in Central Europe for mining!
Many “definitions” were made about sustainability, some have more focus on people, some include the whole of nature. The latter is probably more sincere and holistic. At the same time, the concept of sustainability deals with several common principles:
- caution in risk, uncertainty and irreversible processes,
- safe evaluation of natural values and conservation of nature,
- coordination of environmental, social and economic goals in planning and action,
- popular participation in decision-making processes
- conservation of biological diversity
- justice between generations
- global perspective
- obligation to use best practice,
- no loss of human or natural capital,
- continuous improvement and
- need for good planning (good governance).
Ultimately, it’s about our FOOTPRINT – is it big and deep or small and light? The goal must be to have as small and light a footprint as possible in every way possible.