Program in Sustainability and the Built Environment

The Significance of Sustainability to the Built Environment

“Architecture and Urbanism play a significant role in the consumption and distribution of resources in space. The design of the built environment plays a vital role in achieving equitable and sustainable consumption. Carbon emissions directly depend on how we design our cities and buildings. In order to sustain ourselves through the climate change crises, we need to design our buildings and cities with sustainable and equitable carbon footprints.” —Vandana (Van) Baweja (School of Architecture)

“The built environment dominates humanity’s impact on nature and it is the major contributor to climate change, resources depletion, waste, over-consumption, diminished human health, and other significant problems. The best route to approaching a sustainable future is to make the built environment sustainable.” —Charles J. Kibert (M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction)

“Sustainability must be the foundation of all development and conservation planning in the future because human health and well being, and the health of our planet as a whole, is dependent on adopting sustainable practices.” —Tom Hoctor, Ph.D. (Department of Landscape Architecture)

“Sustainability is important to the built environment because it is conventional human habitation that has so dramatically altered the environment. Our impacts are serious and cumulative.” —Glenn Acomb (Department of Landscape Architecture)

“Sustainability is important to the planning, design, construction, and preservation of the built environment, because it helps these activities reflect multiple values and considerations. In fact, the arts and sciences of the built environment have traditionally integrated values and fostered creative expression, capabilities that can and should lead the sustainability movement as society seeks for ways to live in dynamic balance with its own diverse needs and the natural world. And given the growing impact of the built environment, humanity’s search for sustainability cannot succeed without this leadership.” —Kathryn Frank (Department of Urban and Regional Planning)

“Planning for sustainability in the built environment requires us to go beyond our individual disciplines to consider the variety of economic, social, and environmental impacts of our decisions in the long-term. A decision to build a green residential development in an isolated location may pass some of test of sustainability through its reduction in stormwater runoff, energy-efficiency, and ecological sustainability in the building but it may fail to be sustainable from a transportation perspective. The sustainability challenge in the built environment disciplines is to become multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary in our teaching and learning.” —Ruth Steiner