To ‘sustain’ means to ‘support’, ‘provide for’, ‘maintain’, ‘keep going’, ‘prolong’, ‘support the life of’. The concept of ‘sustainability’ is based on the idea that we are holding the planet in trust for future generations and this must be embodied in our decisionmaking. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) – The Earth Summit – was held in Rio de Janeiro on 3-14 June 1992 to help governments rethink economic development and to find ways of halting the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and the pollution of the planet. It aimed to bring about a change in understanding of the likely long-term environmental effects of developed and developing economies, with particular reference to:
energy use; • loss of habitats; • air, water and soil quality; and• health. •
‘Sustainable development’ involves providing a level of social activity within recognised economic constraints and at reduced environmental impact – the ‘triple bottom line’. Because these qualities are, in any case, integral to good design, they extend beyond meeting client needs to addressing wider social issues. On the environmental front, there is expectation of reductions in materials consumption and reductions in the impact of materials use and disposal.