Sustainability is a term that goes beyond the capacity to support the inputs or costs associated to maintaining a building or development’s usefulness. In broader terms it relates to the entire sphere of elements that form the final product encompassing the architecture, the design, the materials and in the running of the systems that address its heating and cooling requirements - all in a manner that remains manageable. In this context, how buildings are conceived plays a large role in how they perform and, more importantly, how useful and relevant they remain in the years to come. While the construction might be sound, if the design of a residential building, for example, is such that it can not accommodate changing needs, the cost of modifying it to do so will ensure sure that development is not sustainable - from day one.
The choice of materials, as would be part of the overall design, also play an equally large role in determining the Sustainability of any development. The durability of these materials and how they hold up to the uses imposed on them, how they handle daily life, in simple terms, is extremely important. Leaking showers, floors that can not weather the traffic on them, and cabinets that warp all progressively diminish the usefulness of the space. In addition, if you consider the financial imposition of repairing these crucial elements, the relevance of Sustainability, from a design perspective, become very clear.
Over and above design, we must also recognize our responsibility as managers of our collective natural resources. The importance of reducing energy consumption, both through the application of applicable eco-technologies and through the employment of energy mitigation concepts must be considered with development. The goal being purely to lessen the cost each development places on ownership and the environment not just on day but well into the future. This is true Sustainability.