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What Is "Sustainable Development"?

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The Villages of Loreto Bay in Loreto Bay, Mexico

The Villages of Loreto Bay in Loreto Bay, Mexico was once promoted as sustainable development

Photo © Jackie Craven
Definition:
    "Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

    ~World Commission on Environment and Development
The term sustainable development means that builders, architects, designers, community planners, and real estate developers strive to create buildings and communities that will not deplete natural resources. The goal is to meet today's needs using renewable resources so that the needs of future generations will be provided for.

Sustainable development attempts to minimize greenhouse gases, reduce global warming, preserve environmental resources, and provide communities that allow people to reach their fullest potentials.

Sustainable development will have many, although not necessarily all, of these characteristics:

  • Green architecture and eco-friendly building practices
  • Local building materials
  • Natural, bio-degradable building materials
  • Local workers
  • Renewable sources for water
  • Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind
  • Protection of natural habitats
  • Planned replacement for any resources used
  • Non-polluting construction practices and industries
  • Smart Growth
  • Walkable communities
  • Mixed-use communities that combine residential and commercial activities
  • New Urbanism
  • Adaptive reuse of older buildings
  • Use of recycled architectural salvage
The emphasis of sustainable development is on the conservation of environmental resources. However, the concept of sustainable development is often broadened to include the protection and development of human resources. Communities founded on principles of sustainable development may strive to provide abundant educational resources, career development opportunities, and social services.
Also Known As:
sustainable design, green architecture, eco-design, eco-friendly architecture, earth-friendly architecture, environmental architecture, natural architecture
Examples:

The Villages of Loreto Bay in Loreto Bay, Mexico was promoted as a model of sustainable development. The community claimed to produce more energy than it consumed and more water than it used. However, critics charged that developers' claims were overstated. The community eventually suffered financial setbacks.

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