Generally, when someone hears 'sustainable' or 'sustainability', their understanding falls somewhere within the realm of gardening and so-called 'tree huggers'. As the idea of sustainability has gained more widespread interest, it is important to remember that sustainability doesn't stop at just household items and the food we all eat.
In the world of architecture, many architects are working toward a sustainable future, designing for the times ahead while taking precedent from the past. Architect Chris Baribeau, of Modus Studio, is one of these architects.
Taking precedent from the Ozark mountains, Baribeau and his colleagues are working to create a more realistic society, in which we are as much a part of the natural world as the natural world is a part of us. Chris and his colleagues founded their design studio on the principle that there can be a balance between man and nature, but it is up to man to figure how to traverse that balance. The common goal of any sustainable architect is to, essentially, bring the inside to the outside and the outside in, without the common person feeling as if they are at the mercy of the elements.
The question, then, is "what is sustainable architecture, really?"
There are some with the school of thought that there is no such thing as sustainable architecture. This may be true, in some circumstances, but it is a thought which needs to be revisited and perceived differently.
The ultimate goal, with any type of sustainability is to create a situation where there is little-to-no emission(s). Sustainable architecture is architecture which acts in a variety of capacities, including local and global context, as well as creating something that will be nurtured and passed on to future generations. If an architect is designing with a truly 'sustainable' vision in mind, the hope is that the design will transcend the coming ages, with a root in the livability of the current age.
As an example, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is dedicated to exploring new and innovative techniques for sustainable design, its impact(s), and consequence(s). The dialogue has been opened, and now the flood of information is streaming into the consciousness of design. If we, as the public, continue to push the bounds of sustainability and what it is we want from sustainable living, professions such as architecture will continue to listen and create. With creation comes change and with change comes success -- long term and otherwise.
If we start to look at sustainability as a larger conversation than just recycling, gardening, and otherwise, and start looking at it as potential all around us, it seems likely innovation and, ultimately, global change will occur. With people at the forefront of thought and design, the sustainable 'movement' will, eventually, become the accepted norm, rather than the exception to the vague rule. Sustainable architecture is a leader of industry, when it comes to redefining reuse, recycling, invention, and utilization. As more and more industries work together to solve the common problem, more and more livability becomes apparent.