Most of the building sustainability professionals worldwide would agree that currently the focus is on Health & Wellbeing. It is the next trend or fad that is going to prevail probably for the next 5 years to come. It makes good business sense when related to productivity, absenteeism etc., easily grasped by everybody (what's in it for me) and if managed to be measured and create KPI's it looks more promising in economic terms than energy saving and management.
Nevertheless, if one tries to form a more generic and transcending definition for a building, possibly he will end up with "a structure that satisfies human's accommodating needs". Within this context, it is strange how the majority of the green building / sustainability movement (with a few notable exceptions) in the last 20 years did not address, until now, boldly the Health & Wellbeing issue.
It is interesting to observe how opinion leaders, institutions, global influencers etc. in the last 2 years heavily quote and promote the significance of Health & Wellbeing. Why all this buzz and fuss now, after 20 years of buzz for the environment, climatic change, energy saving and management?
Within this developing trend/focus an important integrated approach issue arises within the so called "green" movement/momentum. The green movement addresses issues of resource scarcity, climatic change, energy efficiency and management. But also in marketing terms it is not necessarily associated with human Health & Wellbeing. As a consequence, there it is as an "add on", Health and Wellbeing joining the "green movement".
Whilst undoubtedly climatic change poses a significant threat, soon enough, if not already, the baptised "green movement" will prove insufficient to embrace the world wide focusing trend on Health & Wellbeing which will probably consume resources in expense of others needed to maintain balance (sustainability).
What could realy be needed is a real-life balance practice, within the context of available resources, in order to maintain a sustainable status. This status could address resource scarcity and climatic impact mitigation and energy efficiency and human Health & Wellbeing and pollution mitigation and..... and..... That is it. Welcome to real life. If we find this increasingly complex (especially in business or awareness terms) ... well this is what is real life about. Simplifications (to be appealing and easier to apply) will not necessarily work the problem.
I wish the whole building industry, academia, institutions and professionals agree to a definition for sustainability in the built environment and communicate it boldly. Furthermore, I wish everybody to realise that sustainability is about getting the balance right within a context of limited resources where fads and focuses could undermine the fundamental holistic approach of sustainability.
Can we make the latter our number one (fundamental) priority?