As we embark on 2018 it is always useful to ponder where we are heading to.An inherent challenge of sustainability implementation is that it entails numerous diverse sciences, issues and perspectives that need to come together in proportion and harmoniously co-exist. Indeed, it is about collaboration. However, collaboration is more of a tactic rather than a vision or mission.
For a vision or mission transcending statements help to reach to a definition. And it seems that sustainability has not managed yet to find its definition.
In everyday life we come across complacent or market based sustainability definitions. And these days many of the trivially used sustainability definitions are based on Health & Wellbeing (H&W). It is the sign of the times.
As if we were unaware, we recently discovered or realised that buildings and infrastructure are made for people and that we spend most of our time within buildings. Consequently, a revolution is underway in sustainability with H&W written on its flag. As if we have addressed all the numerous remaining sustainability issues, we deep dive into H&W, we market it (it is the easiest to communicate with great impact - since the apparent what’s in it for me factor hits 100%) and showcase the business and economic benefits.
Whilst H&W is fundamental, it is one part of issues that needs to be addressed simultaneously with all other sustainability issues. Not to mention that the latter issues, directly or indirectly, influence our internal cocoon microclimate through a non-immediately perceived interaction mechanism.
We had a similar case of a focusing trend some years ago. That of energy. Where energy buildings were synonymous to sustainable buildings or “green” buildings. Nowadays, a trend is developing where “healthy” buildings are “green” buildings or sustainable buildings. Inconsistency and confusion at its best.
We must remember though that real life and sustainability does not necessarily focus.
It seems that within the sustainability movement we have not managed yet to communicate effectively and boldly the priority or even better the pre-requisite of holistic approach. Truly it is a challenge, not immediately appealing and we experience the phenomenon where many stakeholders have the natural tendency to deconstruct sustainability and cherry pick the potentially profitable chunks (in economic and marketing terms).
Bottom line, what we have learned from the previous decade is that the mega focusing trend in energy neglected in proportion the Health and Wellbeing of humans. Consequently, what will be our reaction? Another decade of a mega focusing trend in Health & Wellbeing? In expense of what now?
And more importantly, given that resources are scarce how these will be allocated to cater for a truly sustainable outcome?
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!