Answering the Questions Behind Sustainable Communities

With the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) officially launching their new Green Star – Communities PILOT rating tool in June 2012, questions are once again arising surrounding sustainable communities – and rightly so.

The human race is living beyond its means, with the impacts of that behaviour evident in human-induced climate change, soil degradation, depleting resources, food scarcity, loss of biodiversity, species extinction and more.

Australians are certainly not innocent in terms of this behaviour.  If everyone consumed the Earth’s resources the way Australians do, it would take the resources of more than three planet Earths to support humankind.  Should the country continue to follow a ‘business as usual’ model of living, by the time Australia reaches its predicted population of 35 million, the situation will be even worse.  There has never been a more important time to act than now.

The way Australians – and humans in general – live has a huge impact on our global footprint.  If communities can be developed in such a way that provides for everyday needs, it will mean a reduction in travel needs and less reliance on fossil fuels.  If dwellings are built as efficiently as possible, it will lead to reduced energy and water use.  If communities are designed to be socially diverse, people will be able to age in place, seek support from those around them and generally be more resilient to change.  If we more care is taken to protect biodiversity, the health of the planet with be better sustained for all living things.

There is a growing awareness that this is how humanity has to live and that society must rise to the challenge for the sake of all.

Questions arise as to whether sustainable communities can solve these problems and, for that matter, what exactly a ‘sustainable community’ entails.

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July 18, 2012

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