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The ethics of sustainable housing design : the dilemma for practising architects
journal contributionposted on 2008-09-01, 00:00 authored by Robert Fuller, Ursula De JongUrsula De Jong, Susan Mellersh-Lucas
Globally wc arc grappling with the concept of sustainability. What does it mean and how should we respond to ensure that the planet's current ecosystems survive? Architects are in the 'front line' because of the impact of buildings on resource use and waste generation. Most definitions of sustainability are unhelpful because of their wordiness, lack of detail or ambiguity. Others distort the concept of sustainability to allow business-as-usual (i.e., unsustainable) activity to continue. Using one particular model of sustainability, this paper explores the ethical dilemma faced by architects in the residential sector when confronted by a client who wants a house that is clearly unsustainable. The paper begins with definitions of sustainability and ethics; then the literature examining sustainable architecture is reviewed for possible solutions to the dilemma. Two indicators are suggested to make a broad-brush assessment of sustainability. Finally, some practical options for the practising architect are suggested.