American biologist and author E. O. Wilson remarked that "The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible."
Our environment grows more and more vulnerable as urban growth continues to increase across the world. Many cities experiencing rapid urban growth and industrialization are already experiencing the negative impacts of pollution, such as the smog that strangles the city of Beijing.
Smog covers the Beijing skyline, a sight that is now not uncommon with China's rapidly growing manufacturing sector.
Old habits may be hard to break, but there will never be a better time than now to adopt sustainable design and lifestyles. According to architecture2030, buildings account for almost half of all energy and emissions in the U.S. and three-quarters of its electricity. Therefore, the most effective changes we could make to improve sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint come from within our homes and businesses.
In addition, incorporating more nature and sustainable design in future buildings will ensure that we will be able to enjoy our planet's vast biodiversity for years to come. Sustainable design is already being adopted around the world, with CDL's Tree House in Singapore being a notable example. The 24-story condo building boasts the world's largest vertical garden, which reduces its carbon footprint by filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air. Other sustainable design features such as heat-reducing windows and a green exterior wall that reduces the amount of heat absorbed are projected to save more than $500,000 in energy and water costs annually. Buildings like the Tree House set a sustainability benchmark for new developments in the future, and are a great example of some of the ways that integrating sustainable design and construction can also be cost-efficient.
CDL's Tree House has set a Guinness World Record for the world's largest vertical garden.
As the movement for sustainability continues to grow, the importance of innovation in sustainable design is at an all-time high. Conservationists around the world are continually proposing new ideas and solutions to environmental problems that could be integrated into our everyday lives, such as a low-cost water filtration system that uses houseplants to filter toxins from water. It is innovations like these, no matter how small, that could improve the quality of life for millions while reducing the effects of our carbon footprint on this planet.
With the amount of innovation in sustainable design today, we will hopefully be able to enjoy our vast and varied ecosystems and biodiversity for years to come.