Environmentally sustainable architecture and design is the need of the hour. With the global realization of this fact, there is also a sense of urgency to deploy sustainable means of living. But while the intention is good, much is still left to chance, or to regulation - awaiting social approval that enables end users to make a change to the way we lead our lives. After all, sustainability is a lifestyle - one that we shouldn't be reluctant to switch to.

The Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as "the development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".  This effectively means that we are playing with the right of the future generations to fend for themselves. Non sustainable buildings use a lot of energy, pollute a lot of water and generate a lot of waste.


The first pillar of sustainability in buildings. The energy consumption can be massive when left unregulated - especially in commercial buildings that have air-conditioning systems and heavy equipments and lighting loads. Advancements in technology have started to provide tools to address these areas of concern. For example, energy efficient HVAC systems, LED lighting, solar electricity and hot water, high efficiency equipment.


The second pillar of sustainability in buildings. The Earth has less than 1% drinking water, and that meets most of our needs. In our day to day lives, there are many areas where we can reduce, reuse and recycle the water coming in from the municipal / fresh water source. For example, rainwater harvesting, water treatment on site, recycling water for irrigation. However, one has to change the mindset of wasteful use in order to start the process of conservation.


The third pillar of sustainability in buildings. Usually the most neglected, solid waste is a major urban problem. Mountains of waste occupy toxic areas called landfills. Our tendency to throw things "away" results in additions to these huge piles of garbage. Segregation at source and responsible recycling of waste materials can prove to be a mine of resources - as one man's waste can be another's gold. Organic waste can also yield useful manure that we can utilise in our homes itself.