A definition of sustainability Essay

Chapter 1: What is Sustainability?

Definition of Sustainability: A meaningless construct?


What is clear from the literature studied for this thesis is that on the whole, environmental issues suffer from jobs of nomenclature and definition and there is confusion environing ‘sustainability ‘ . A definition of sustainability seems to be slightly subjective depending on your background and your purposes, there is no cosmopolitan definition for the construct as it differs with regional fortunes. As the term ‘sustainability ‘ merely emerged in 1974, for the intents of this thesis words like ecology, eco-friendly and environmental will all use to the same rule.

As mentioned in the old chapter, the rules of sustainability have been around everlastingly. In the earliest yearss sustainability or sustainable life was a simple construct of utilizing, recycling and sharing of home grounds, which were made from regionally accessible stuffs and harmonizing with the primeval forces of Earth, fire, air and H2O. There was besides a strong religious connexion with nature.

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Feng shui ( literally translated as wind-water ) , the antediluvian Chinese system that uses the Torahs of Heaven ( uranology ) and Earth ( geographics ) and “is the pattern of analyzing and act uponing the interaction between people, edifices and the environment in order to heighten quality of life, ” ( The Feng Shui Society ) besides uses rules of what we now define as sustainaibilty.

Harmonizing to the system, chi ( qi ) is a critical energy that is present in everything. Feng Shui focuses on how a edifice can act upon the emotions, wellness, behavior, and ideas of the edifice user. It is the geographic expedition on the influence of edifice design, interior, aesthetics, natural Earth energies and the location. The ancient Chinese used this system in 4000 BC to aline the doors of Banpo homes to the asterism ‘Yingshi ‘ , merely after the winter solstice. This aligned the homes for solar addition. In ulterior dynasties the asterism Ding was used to bespeak the appropriate clip to construct a capital metropolis.

These are all similar theories to the sacred geometry theories present in Vitruvius ‘ ‘De Architectura ‘ , which were taken from instructions of the Greeks and the Egyptians before them.

  • In the seventeenth & A ; Eighteenth Centuries in Tokugawa, Japan, the Shoguns recognised the dangers of deforestation in relation to residential development and imposed heavy ordinances on husbandmans. They began to modulate the harvest home of trees, developed long-run planning and enforced more efficient building methods. As a consequence, although Japan is now the most dumbly populated state in the developed universe, it is still 70 % forested.


The English Encarta Dictionary describes sustainability as “maintaining ecological balance ; working natural resources without destructing the ecological balance of an area” .

Norman Foster ‘s architectural pattern ( Foster & A ; Partners ) define sustainable design as “creating edifices which are energy efficient, healthy, comfy, flexible in usage and designed for long life” .

The Building Services Research and Information Association ( BSRIA ) defined sustainable building as “the creative activity and direction of healthy edifices based upon resource efficient and ecological principles” .

As mentioned antecedently the Bruntland Report 1987 ‘Our Common Future ‘ , defined sustainable development as development that meets the demands and demands of the present without comprimising the ability of future coevalss to run into theirs.

Sustainable stuffs are defined as “materials and building merchandises which are healthy, lasting, resource efficient and manufactured with respect to understating environmental impact and maximizing recycling” . ( Edwards, 2004 ) .

The birth of the modern age – the “Age of Reason” ( Thomas Paine ) is given as the cause of the ideological alteration in attitude that affected architectural development. This was an 18th century revolution of rational scientific idea.

Man began to encompass an overdone belief in the flawlessness and high quality of humanity. Abandoning faith, mysticism, superstitious notion and spiritualty and change overing to the polar extremes of scientific discipline, ground, enlightenment and reason. These became the ‘new ‘Gods ‘ and the new ‘religion ‘ , there was small thought to middle land.

For J. Wines sustainability is more than modern technological invention such as the usage of photovoltaics and energy efficient building methods. These are merely vehicles in which to beef up suatainable life. Wines believes sustanability is a ‘mission ‘ for all societies to unify and be comitted in cause to ‘connect with the natural environment on a more profound philosophical, psychological and cultural degree ‘ , in the involvement of salvaging the environment and arguably, more significantly humanity.

Dr James Lovelock gave us the Gaia hypothesis in his diaries in 1979, after working with NASA on methods to observe life on Mars. His really controversial theory claimed that Earth ( or Gaia as the Greeks called it ) worked together symbiotically with the many life signifiers on the planet to keep conditions to prolong life. The thought was controversial at the clip as it suggested that we do non command nature nevertheless nature controls us. For case although the brightness of the Sun has increased by about 30 % since life began about four billion old ages ago, the life ecosystem has reacted as a whole to keep temperatures at degrees suited for life.


The Brundtland definition outlines a doctrine which benefits from a grade of impreciseness. There is a general apprehension and set of rules which allow utile sub-definitions to be framed within its wide embracing.

So amidst the confusion of the definition of sustainability, it is safe to presume from the many theories that sustainability within the building industry means a symbiotic, or reciprocally good relationship between development/ building and the ecosystem.


hypertext transfer protocol: //www.allabouthistory.org/age-of-reason.htm

hypertext transfer protocol: //www.fengshuisociety.org.uk/ )


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