In response to the reported threats to our world’s climate and carrying capacity, sustainability has been a majorly hot topic as of late. And while sustainability has become a highly-charged tag word, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what this concept really means and how it will impact our current ways of life. To answer this question, scientists, architects, and engineers (among many other professions) are working hard to re-envision cities and how they interact with the environment.
Rather than focusing on what buildings can be, architects are now shifting their focus to what buildings can do. From producing energy to producing food, the goal of architecture is less about being bigger and taller and more about meeting the demands of cities. This new approach to architecture actually produces more resources rather than depleting them.
So what would a totally sustainable city look like?
The Huffington Post recently covered an initiative that envisions one of the largest cities in the world, New York City, as a completely sustainable city. This vision for New York provides mechanisms that allow the city to meet all of its food and energy needs internally. Though the project has been described as a “pipe dream,” it’s holistic approach could help pave the way for future urban planning. Read more.
What does sustainability mean for us?
While it is highly important that our city planners, architects, engineers, and farmers start envisioning our world in a more sustainable way, this does not absolve us of our individual responsibility. Though is has been around for a good while, the old tagline “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” contains a lot of wisdom. It is almost a guarantee that there is one behavior that we can change today to make a lesser impact on the environment, whether it is finding ways to reuse (or upcycle, to some) materials that we may have been quickly casting out, or finding a way to reduce our consumption in the first place.
It is especially important for us STEM advocates who are working to influence and shape the futures of the next generation to adopt sustainable practices. Are there ways that your classroom, club, office, or home can be made more sustainable?