Sustainable development : the adoption of principles of sustainable development by the architecture and construction industry of South Africa.
Sustainable development has been variously defined as: "the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity" (Gissen 2002:185), and as society's ability to meet its current needs and fulfil its greatest potential without compromising its ability to address its needs and potentials in the future (WCED 1987). It is a far reaching concept which calls for action by the entire spectrum of society. It implies a focus on more than just financial profits, and is more holistic and systemic than simple environmentalism. Approaches to the subject differ depending on the global context, that is, the North sees the issue as leaning more toward conscientious environmental resource use and rehabilitation, whereas the South sees sustainable development more in terms of providing for the basic needs of the poor, which often takes priority over doing so in an environmentally and economically sustainable manner. Implementation of sustainable development tends to be implemented by governments in a number of ways, firstly by moving the indicators of development away from Gross Domestic Product and toward more holistic indicators such as Quality of Life indicators, in order to internalise factors that are typically considered external to normal economic pricing factors. The implementation of sustainable development into the architecture and construction industry requires architects to be aware of the issues involved and the solutions available. Then clients need to be educated in their role in the process, with particular emphasis on the advantages available to them. These advantages include lower running costs, improved corporate image, and improved worker contentment and productivity. Practical measures for sustainable architectural design are primarily environmental in nature, and include water, energy, and material resource efficiency, as well as indoor environmental quality. These can however, largely be validated in economic terms. Existing literature that are intended as 'design guides', are however, lacking in practical measures in which to implement the more social and economic sides of sustainable development, and for that, the designer needs to look toward various architectural assessment tools, of which South Africa's Sustainable Building Assessment Tool is useful because of the broad scope of its approach. Built examples have demonstrated greatly improved environmental performance in buildings, as well as improved worker and client satisfaction. In terms of architectural quality, they range from offices which look very similar to other 'non-sustainable' offices built in the North, to a more experimental and low-tech approach practiced by a number of architects from the South, which see this approach as an opportunity for a new architectural expression. Sustainable architecture requires acknowledging sustainable development goals from the very start of the project. Following this, the interrelationship between different components of a design is examined, particularly with respect to allowing advantages attained from one component or system to benefit other systems. A holistic approach of concurrently focusing on environmental, social and economic factors will be shown to benefit all of these factors rather than just the one being designed for - for example, environmental interventions can have economic benefits. Because of the wide scope of factors that need to be considered, it will be found that often there are conflicting issues. This can be resolved through analyses such as life-cycle-analysis and value judgments can be made by comparing different solutions.