What it means to build sustainably?
Sustainable development is about much more than using the most modern and highest-rated ‘green’ materials. Places are sustainable when they offer multiple ways of getting around;embed mixed-use buildings in neighborhoods; disperse a full range of housing options; provide residents their daily needs
within a short and safe walk; have access to fresh, locally grown food. Furthermore, sustainable buildings should be attractive,human-scaled, and dignified. They should be built to last, able to
house a variety of uses, and be economical to maintain.
Connect people and nature
Until recently, most buildings encouraged a connection between indoor and outdoor environments. Traditional buildings were designed to respond to the local climate without having to rely on air conditioning. Front porches provide comfortable outdoor rooms, shielded from the sun. Buildings with narrow wings allow for natural ventilation. Courtyards offer secure, outdoor space that can also aid in natural ventilation and illumination. By revisiting how these traditional buildings are designed, including their placement on the land, orientation, and their relationship to the public realm, one can recover knowledge that respects the region’s natural systems and reconnects people to their
Preserve historic places and buildings
The region has a unique history, created by layers of development, economies, and cultures. The contributions of previous generations should always be acknowledged and respected. Sustainable development honors the historic fabric of urban places and incorporates design strategies that allow the best traditions to be incorporated and adapted to changing needs. The preservation of a single building can make an impact not only on the neighborhood but on the region as a whole. Historic buildings, districts, and landscapes should be regarded not as relics of the past but as living traditions.
Reinforce culture and a sense of place
The region today is comprised of a diverse set of cultures from around the world, an aspect that should be celebrated through the built environment. As development adds new layers, cultural elements such as museums, public spaces, civic buildings, organizations, historic districts, and more should be maintained and preserved to create a sense of place. A community’s sense of place grows from its history, nature, and culture. However, it is the relationship between this context and the current culture that form the character and identity of a community. Therefore to reinforce a sense of place, the community’s history, culture, economy, and social context must be understood. A continually evolving vision for the future can then incorporate new ideas while balancing the values and culture of the past, present, and future. In Monroe County the environment is our economic lifeline.