Sustainability is a way of life affecting everything an individual does; similarly the sustainability of amenities paves the way for eco-friendly developments. Amenities, their construction, use and disposal, have a significant on the natural environment and social fabric of our society. Sustainable architecture can help put into practice and even encourage a sustainable way of life. The amenities are to be designed and built to contribute positively to the sustainability agenda, to achieve economically strong, socially inclusive, stable communities while minimizing the impact on the environment (Tilder & Blostein, 2009).
The sustainable architectural design of amenities has two specific aims; First, sustainable buildings should metaphorically ‘tread lightly on Earth’ by minimizing the environmental impacts associated with their construction, their life in use and at the end of their life. Sustainable buildings need to have small ecological footprints (Thompson & Sorvig, 2000). Second, amenities should make a positive and appropriate contribution to the social environment they inhabit, by addressing people’s practical needs while enhancing their surrounding environment and their psychological and physical well-being.
These requirements are neither optional nor mutually exclusive. It is not a question of addressing one or the other point, but both. No matter how energy and water efficient an amenity is, it becomes a waste of resources and a potential detriment to the community if no wants to occupy it. Also, making a positive contribution to the community environment means addressing more than just practical requirements, it means addressing the aesthetic and psychosocial needs of the people. Amenities that are loved become part of the community’s own culture, have long lives and are economically sustainable. The concept of economic sustainability becomes crucial while making sustainable amenities; successful amenities make money, sell quickly, command more rent, have long lives or help induce the regeneration of an area. Sustainable amenities are those that can be an asset for many years to come.
Buildings and amenities have potential lives spanning hundreds of years. What is being built now could affect the next ten generations. Not to build for maximum energy, water, materials and waste efficiency is to place an unacceptable burden on future generations. Sustainable development yields to several benefits like improvement of landscapes and scenic beauty, preserving the environment, evolving as economic asset and environment-friendly amenities.
In countries with an already large urban population, sustainable development aims to increase the viability and improve the sustainability of amenities in existing cities. There arises the need to repair the urban fabric and regenerate depressed areas, and create quality public spaces and more green areas that enhances people’s health and quality of life. The challenge for compact cities is to make the advantages of energy efficiency, independence from cars, access to employment, culture, leisure and green spaces outweigh potential disadvantages and dispel the prejudices many people still have (Gauzen-Muller & Favet 2002, p.53). Compact cities provide scope for development of sustainable amenities as they can provide a multitude of opportunities only available in agglomerations of people and activities (Williams, 2007). Development of sustainable amenities requires the procurement of raw material and other required material within a specified area, this is pre-described like the raw material for a certain development would be procured with 200 miles of target or measurement. This also reduces the cost and adds to the sustainability factor.
Amenities helps to promote awareness of sustainability and some sustainable architects use their development as educational vehicles. The success of a sustainable design strategy depends to a large extent on the way inhabitants use their building. Certain aspects of sustainable design are susceptible to misuse, whereby their benefits are lost. Even a very well-insulated building will use up substantial amount of heating of windows are kept open. Unless building occupants are informed and educated about the operation of the building and the rationale behind the design, performance is likely to be compromised.
Daniel Edward Williams (2007). Sustainable design: ecology, architecture, and planning. John Wiley and Sons. 275.
Dominique Gauzin-Müller & Nicolas Favet (2002). Sustainable architecture and urbanism: concepts, technologies, examples. Birkhäuser. 255.
J. William Thompson & Kim Sorvig (2000). Sustainable landscape construction: a guide to green building outdoors. Island Press. 348.
Lisa Tilder & Beth Blostein (2009). Design Ecologies: Sustainable Potentials in Architecture. Princeton Architectural Press. 256.