Sustainability has many definitions and applications. A long view of the future is one important aspect of sustainability. The Brundtland definition of sustainable development supports this by stating, “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The application of sustainable development pertains to three different spheres of life: economic, environmental, and social. These are sometimes called the three pillars of sustainability. To be sustainable, a project must respect the three pillars over a long time span.
refers to the ability to suffer less damage and recover quickly from adverse
events. Both man-made and natural disasters occur quickly and can have
significant consequences on portions of the built environment. There are many
definitions of resilience, but most of them identify two key aspects:
robustness and rapidity. Robustness is the ability to limit damage. Ductility,
redundancy and integrity are important characteristics that help limit damage
in structures. Rapidity is the ability to restore service to pre-disaster
conditions quickly after the disaster. Disaster resilience is necessary for
sustainability. A facility with many features that would otherwise render
it sustainable will be of no use if it is heavily damaged in a disaster.
Reconstruction would incur significant financial, social, and environmental
impacts. These impacts must be
considered in sustainability assessments. A resilient design ensures the
usefulness and longevity of other sustainability features.
Climate change refers to any significant difference in the measures of climate that lasts for
a significant period of time. These changes include those related to an increase
in greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which contribute to global warming. The
scientific community is in near unanimous agreement that global warming is
anthropogenic, i.e., caused by humans. Some segments of the population dispute
the cause, but few dispute that climate change is occurring. Whatever the
cause, weather-related disasters are expected to increase in severity and
magnitude in many parts of the world. Weather events of increased severity
underscore the need for a resilient built environment. In more hostile
climates, resilience must be a more important component of sustainability.
Moreover, construction and maintenance activities generate greenhouse gasses
that can accelerate climate change. Meaningful reductions of such impacts can
have positive effects in mitigating the severity of climate change.