15 years ago, I saw that “Sustainability” would be a huge issue that wasn’t going away. So I decided to utilize my professional skills as an architect and housing developer, and create a sustainable living model. I’d hoped to find some way to make existing communities and buildings sustainable, but concluded – and I haven’t seen anything to change my mind – that existing buildings, communities and cities are not sustainable. In fact, they may be close to a point of collapse.
For me, “sustainable” means the ability to live, 100%, with what comes to our site. That’s 100% of heating, cooling, power, water, food and waste management. As we learned in our Garden Atrium project, this is really not difficult to do. Our Garden Atrium web site, www.gardenatriums.com, has a photo tour and video that PBS shot, and shows wonderful homes – no compromise in quality of life.
Making existing buildings sustainable is difficult. Can we make them better? Sure. But if they’re not 100% sustainable, we’re just delaying the inevitable inability of the building to satisfy our needs.
It’s even more difficult for communities, towns and cities.
Each year, infrastructure maintenance costs – water and sewer lines and treatment facilities, bridges and roadways, power lines – increases, as tax revenue dwindles. One client, an engineer managing infrastructure projects for a large city, indicated that if the public knew how fragile their city’s infrastructure is, it would frighten them. And the city has virtually no budget to repair it.
For over 60 years, utilities have become smaller and more decentralized. Food travels an average of 1500 miles to our plate; that “utility” also needs to be decentralized. Putting it all together, what will a sustainable development look like?
A 21st century version of a medieval English village, surrounded by farms that produce 100% of the community’s food. All buildings provide 100% of the physiological needs, sustainably. Many will work in home offices. “Industry” may involve family-style businesses, some making products, others making parts of products with some as assemblers. And the growing use of “coaches” helps people spend more of each day doing things that are personally fulfilling.
Sustainable development will ultimately look like a huge number of small, personal communities, networked all over the planet. The phrase, “Live locally, think globally” will become a sustainable – and joyful – reality.
To learn more about sustainable development, see Sustainability: a personal journey to a built sustainable community…and an amazing picture of what life will soon be like. The book by, Stuart W. Rose, is as much an adventure as it is encouragement for everyone desiring to live a sustainable and more fulfilling life.