What is sustainability?

It seems simples, but that is a hard question to answer. The term sustainability is very broad and has been under different topics lately. But how actually people understand sustainability? Before starting asking this question towards professionals, I had to go through myself.

My background in architecture and sustainable design raised in me this question many times. It stills raises.

The ability of sustain, if you turn the word around.

Sustain. 1. to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.

But sustain what?

The planet and life. That is the first thing that comes in my mind. But there are different ways to support that. And that is what I want to explore and exploit in this project. Try to understand, together with very inspiring people, how their area of working and/or living can explain the term.

The idea of the project first came when I was asked about the topic during my master and I went through the Summit in Rio 1992, where sustainability was the main topic of the agenda:

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Bruntland Report for the World Commission on Environment and Development (1992)

This question came back again when I was researching my master thesis. I had in mind to interview a range of architects (around the globe) in order to understand how they were applying sustainability in their projects. But then, I realised that architecture is only a fraction of what can be done for a sustainable planet. Quite naive of me, I know. Then, it came to me that I had to collaborate with different people, projects and products for that to occur.

Therefore, I decided to raise the question towards people I know, and have great stories to tell & share – The method used is direct and indirect interviews – my way to start.

The goal is to empower the question, and break the word in different parts. Sustain different parts. And by that, putting the parts together.

I believe that sustainability may be part of our sense of living, in a holistic approach which includes economical, environmental and social aspects as one. But not only for big cases, but for everyone (maybe, naive again – but that is me). The project may motivate people by showing that simple elements can be integrated within daily habits, different professions and within a range of changes.

And yes, I did not really answer the question. Not yet. It will come soon by my interviewers and with the conclusion of this project.

Again, what is sustainability? And, how sustainability can be part of your living and working mode?