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Seven Principles of a Sustainable Built Environment

Sustainable design is ecological balance through new and retrofit construction

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California Green Chemistry Initiative

Seven Principles of Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is a collective process whereby the built environment achieves new levels of ecological balance through new and retrofit construction, and contributes toward the long-term viability and humanization of architecture.

Seven principles of sustainable design have been emerging at the Center for Building Performance at Carnegie Mellon University for the past 15 years, as an ever widening consortium of building industry and federal agency partners have helped to forge the debate and fund the research needed to fully define a sustainable future for our built environment:

  • A sustainable built environment depends on an integrative, human-ecological design approach.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on changing approaches to land use and community fabric.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on the effective use of natural, local, and global resources to reduce infrastructure loading and maximize infrastructure use.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on the use of locally harvested and crafted materials and assemblies.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on the design of forgiving and adaptive systems, including structure, enclosure, mechanical, lighting, networking, and interior systems.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on design for life-cycle instead of minimum first cost.
  • A sustainable built environment depends on the promotion of infrastructures to neighborhood amenities.

Human-Ecological Approach to Design

In each of these seven goals there is special emphasis on a human-ecological approach to design to ensure innovations that support locally harvested and crafted materials, natural conditioning given regional responses to climate variations, and most critically sustainable land use and sustainable infrastructures.

It is time to move away from thinking:

  • "Go West, young man" to "Building to Last";
  • from privatizing the profits while socializing the costs to life-cycle ownership;
  • from the thinning out of America to making American communities pedestrian friendly;
  • from the paving of America to the landscaping of America;
  • from the crumbling of American infrastructures to engineering longevity;
  • from a widening of the haves and have-nots to a shared future.

SOURCE:The Quarterly Journal of the National Associates Committee

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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