Putting systems together

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 10/20/21

Captain Kirk has come to rescue Earth, at just the right time.

With actor William Shatner’s brief exploration of space, the final frontier, he has come back to earth to deliver a …

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Putting systems together

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Captain Kirk has come to rescue Earth, at just the right time.

With actor William Shatner’s brief exploration of space, the final frontier, he has come back to earth to deliver a message.

“Space is death; Earth is life; we must clean this up now.”

With this message, he is pointing to our earth as our collective home, and seeing it as a complete and separate entity. It’s heartening news at this time of great disruption and fragmentation. It’s heartening because in terms of system theory, when the system becomes aware of itself, transformation can occur. As our behavior is in need of a transformation for our ailing planet, that Shatner is pointing out the earth as a system and a planet, and that message is going viral, has great possibility for systemic change.

We are collectively becoming aware that we are inhabitants of Earth and we have to be in alignment with the natural rhythms and capacity of our planet to sustain us and itself.

Sustainable development

And while it might seem as uncharted territory, it points back to the delineated system of sustainable development.

According to “Our Common Future” (also known as the Brundtland Report), which was published by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) of the United Nations in 1987, sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

In this definition, the concept of sustainability refers to three “pillars” that make the development of economic activities and the protection of the environment compatible:

  1. Environmental sustainability: ensures the availability and quality of natural resources
  2. Social sustainability: ensures quality of life, safety and services for citizens
  3. Economic sustainability: ensures economic efficiency and income for businesses.

Some think about sustainable development as the intersections between planet, people and profit.

In the following pages, we explore some of the foundations and fundamentals of constructing our buildings along the lines of sustainable development, specifically the passive house, net zero energy homes and the Living Building Challenge.

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