Creating more robust urban habitats

ACCORDING to Jason Pomeroy, there are four emerging key considerations for the green building industry:

1. The sustainability domino effect

We will see the continued domino effects of our carbon woes, with the correlating steps to counteract such issues. This might include global climate change legislation, tax incentives to "go green", tighter green planning policy guidelines and a realisation that sustainable design is an integral element of designing the urban habitat in an attempt to reduce material waste and running costs, and help preserve the environment for future generations.

2. An increasing awareness that sustainability is a 'back-to-basics' design

People will become more aware that sustainable design is not about fancy gimmickry, but is just good design grounded in simple building physics that employs the lessons learnt from the past.

Passive design forms the backbone of sustainable design and will hopefully be employed more as first principles when designing sustainable built environments without the need to put in costly technologies from the outset, to offset the energy and water consumed by inefficient design.

3. People want to know the facts and tangible benefits, not the rhetoric of a checklist to score points

People want to know in layman's terms what sustainable design can do for them. This requires the tangible benefits to be clearly spelt out and based on fact and reason.

Improved air quality, reduced water and energy consumption and ambient temperatures can all be calculated and therefore provide an indication as to how much household money can be saved at the end of each month for the benefit of landowners and/or tenants. This will help demystify sustainable design.

4. Rethinking the 'triple bottom line'

With the world population set to continue growing, this will result in three issues — heightened social and cultural transmigration as a response to urbanisation and rising land prices; privatisation of space and consequent depletion of those environments that once fostered social interaction; and continued rise in urban temperatures that contribute to climate change.

Sustainable design that embraces just the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainability may not go far enough in addressing issues and requires three additional considerations in both the design process and the realisation of our built environment.

Spatial, cultural and technological sustainability would therefore seem parameters that are just as important and should be considered alongside the widely-accepted "triple bottom line" to create more robust urban habitats.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of July 1-7, 2013.

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