Dealing with natural resources in a responsible way is crucial to manage the problematics related to human settlement, energy use and the built environment in order to realize an integral sustainable development. Sustainability may be one of the world's most talked about but least understood words. Its meaning is often clouded by differing interpretations and by a tendency for many organizations to treat the subject superficially. For most companies, countries and individuals who do take the subject seriously the concept of sustainability embraces not only preservation of the environment but also critical development-related issues such as the efficient use of resources, continual social progress, stable economic growth, and the eradication of poverty.
In the world of construction, buildings have the capacity to make a major contribution to a more sustainable future for our planet. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), for instance, estimates that buildings in developed countries account for more than forty percent of energy consumption. Add to this the fact that for the first time in human history over half of the world's population now lives in urban environments and it's clear that sustainable buildings have become vital cornerstones for securing long-term environmental, economic and social viability.
Sustainable construction aims to meet present day needs for housing, working environments and infrastructure without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs in times to come. Specifically, it involves issues such as the design and management of buildings, material performance, energy and resource consumption – all within the larger scope of urban development and management.
This research program includes a global component where systems of bioclimatic architecture are examined in a comparative analysis. The above images displayed in this context show the Bosco Verticale project by Stefano Boeri Architetti, as well as a series of environmental performance diagrams for highrise structures designed by Ken Yeang, a Malaysian architect and writer best known for his comprehensive ecological approach and advancing green design or urban planning. A local academic chapter for building in the tropics has been developed in collaboration with Veritas University in San José, Costa Rica. Different projects were informed by the outcomes of the research, such as the design for a compact multifunctional urban center in El Carmen, sustainable housing targeted at the middle class in Costa Rica, or the development of a sustainable community in a marginalized area of El Salvador. A series of case study homes was designed in a parallel research program called C.R.C.S.H., a project proposing specific "attainable" solutions for single-family detached homes in the tropical climate zones of Central America.