How Do Sustainable Architecture and Design Solve Society’s Problems in 2017?

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How Do Sustainable Architecture and Design Solve Society’s Problems in 2017?

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Sustainable design is the principle of creating a man-made environment that fulfills the values of social, economic, and eco-friendly sustainability. Ideally, sustainable design completely eliminates negative environmental impacts.


Here are a handful of society’s problems that can be addressed by sustainable design:

Now that most of the world’s population lives in urban areas, feeding these billions is generating carbon pollution from the fuel used to cart food in from  rural areas where it is grown. VertiCrops can diminish these greenhouse gases by growing food naturally in urban areas, through high-tech hydroponic gardening. Instead of going to the market to pick up tomatoes bred to withstand the rigors of transport, imagine reaching out your window to pluck a vine ripened tomato from a vertical garden growing on the side of your apartment building. Since those red gems would taste better, you’d eat more of them. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.


Green roofs are a great example of sustainable design. They can help cool a building while drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, taking advantage of space that is not often used. If more of them were mounted in urban areas, they can favorably impact storm water management. Green rooftops can ease global warming by cooling the hot city environment. Roof top gardens, with plants growing in pots, are a step in the right direction, but a true green roof is a sustainably designed integrated structure with drip irrigation and drainage that produces more consistent weight distribution and sustainable design across a building’s entire roof.

Housing itself can benefit from a more sustainable design. It’s been said before but bears repeating: An individual’s housing usually has a greater impact on the environment than one’s work, transportation or recreation. Homes that are green certified use less water and power, incorporate recycled construction material, and are more valuable than comparable structures.

At the other end of the spectrum, sustainable design is used by American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties, to produce energy-efficient and sustainable housing for veterans by recycling steel shipping containers. These micro units are small but designed to be strong and very energy efficient. Last year, to kick start the effort, the Home Depot Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to American Family Housing. AFH practices sustainability in its funding as well. Sixty-five percent of its revenue comes from funds generated by its 53 Southern California properties, and the rents are affordable for the tenants who live there.

People are living longer. According to the National Institute on Aging, 8.5 percent of people worldwide – 617 million, are age 65 and over. According to a 2015 projection, that percentage will jump to 17 percent of the world’s population by 2050 – 1.6 billion. However, home design which allows seniors to age where they live is woefully inadequate and expensive.


By retrofitting houses that exist to install grab rails, accommodate wheelchairs, and other changes demanded by the diminished physical skills that may come with aging, life can become prohibitively expensive. Michael Graves Architecture and Design is a sustainable design firm that has made universal design its calling card, building homes that accommodate the widest range of abilities possible. This might be the ultimate in sustainable design – to create homes and workplaces that will allow us to continue to lead independent productive lives as our bodies age.


For more information on how to live a sustainable lifestyle, go to and read our articles on food and beverage, the environment, water, architecture and design, home decor, sustainable farming, and more. We invite you to be a part of our green evolution today!


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