Program in Sustainability and the Built Environment



As stated in the 1987 Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future, Sustainable Development is:

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In its original context, this definition was stated solely from the human perspective. In order to truly embrace the idea, the meaning must be expanded to allow all parts of nature to meet their own needs both now and in the future.

Sustainable Design

Sustainable design requires an awareness of both the short and long-term consequences of any transformation of the environment. As noted from the 2000 World’s Fair in Hannover, Germany, sustainable design is the conception and realization of environmentally sensitive and responsible expression as a part of the evolving matrix of nature.

The Hannover Principles

The Hannover Principles should be seen as a living document committed to the transformation and growth in the understanding of our interdependence with nature, so that they may adapt as our knowledge of the world evolves.

1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist.
2. Recognize interdependence.
3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter.
4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions.
5. Create safe objects of long-term value.
6. Eliminate the concept of waste.
7. Rely on natural energy flows.
8. Understand the limitations of design.
9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge.

—William McDonough & Partners. The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability

Our Students

In spring 2019, the number of majors topped 130 students, the third largest undergraduate degree program in the College of Design, Construction and Planning. Approximately 25 students complete the program’s minor every year.

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds.