For centuries, traditional cultures and indigenous societies knew how to build in harmony with their surroundings to maintain balance between their natural habitat and their well-being.  They possessed an innate sense of connectedness to their environment and a timeless way of building that we, as a contemporary society have lost.  Slowly, over time, we have re-awakened to this understanding of the connection between our buildings, the environment and our well-being through science, research, and the principles of sustainable design.  We are becoming familiar with the tools to design for our physical and emotional well-being and understanding how the built environment can contribute to our quality of life and continue to sustain us.


One definition (of many) for sustainability:

Sustainable development is maintaining a delicate balance between the human need to improve lifestyles and feeling of well-being on one hand, and preserving natural resources and ecosystems, on which we and future generations depend.
The guiding rules are that people must share with each other and care for the Earth. Humanity must take no more from nature than nature can replenish. This in turn means adopting lifestyles and development paths that respect and work within nature's limits. It can be done without rejecting the many benefits that modern technology has brought, provided that technology also works within those limits (Source: Caring for the Earth, IUCN, p8.)”

Thoughts on designing for well-being and creating environments that enhance the quality of life:

  • “...good building design can significantly enhance the well-being and productivity of workers. Architects can fulfill this objective by creating environments that sustain it’s occupants in many positive ways.
  • Many environmental psychologists suggest that many factors determined by the design of buildings affect occupants’ performance and well-being. These may include exposure to nature and daylight, air quality, temperature, noise, ergonomics, and opportunities for social gathering, relaxation, and exercise. “
    (excerpted from Architectural Record   November, 2003 issue)

Sustainable Design Links