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Let’s be honest, Episode 20: Sustainable Housing

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle project to open up the conversation about the

challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series

will shine a light on the different approaches to making life more sustainable and the

step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical,

will hopefully help to encourage us to try instead of giving up when facing a step-back or

failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which

every year offers internships to students from all around the world, creating a uniquely multicultural environment.

Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!

“Cultures throughout the world and throughout history that developed stable, sustainable relationships with nature did so through observation a primary principle in permaculture. Juliana Birnbaum Fox"


What are we talking about?

From the earliest days of human life on Earth and the great early civilizations, the role of the house and living place of residence has been the most crucial issue. After advancements in the development of urban structures, humans have always sought ways to improve the quality of urbanization and their residences. These efforts have been in methods, building materials, natural insulation coatings, cooling systems, etc. On the other hand, these efforts to optimize habitat have been accompanied by changes in the ecosystem because the great civilizations developed urbanization and used the environment and ecosystem to provide the food they needed. Therefore, they built cities and fertile areas suitable for agriculture and livestock.

The rate of destruction of the environment and natural ecosystems has increased with the increasing human population, resulting in irreversible damage to nature. Meanwhile, the need for human beings to find a suitable place has also increased, and consumerism in urban life has reached the highest possible level. These changes over thousands of years have led to the development of industrial activities in recent decades.

The notifications that have been given to people in recent years to reduce the phenomenon of consumerism have been adequate. Still, the movement to reverse this procedure and establish the foundations of sustainable development at all stages of life has been slow. Today, we all know that we must replace unsustainable methods with sustainable ones, but it will come at a cost. The issue of housing and accommodation is one of the most critical issues that has been considered. Houses that help us reduce waste generation and recycling, impose lower maintenance costs on homeowners, and create a safer, healthier, and more productive environment for us. We need a stable home that provides us with all the pillars of sustainability.

Sustainable Housing and Development Perspective

The defective energy cycle in ordinary housing is considered the leading cause of energy loss and a significant challenge in developing sustainable structures in housing. This situation costs a lot of money for the owners in the long term. For example, the cost-effectiveness of this change is one of the issues that are always on owners' minds, especially when renovations are to be made to connect old, unsafe buildings and apartment complexes. On the other hand, it also deals with irreparable environmental impacts and urban climates. For this purpose, it seems vital to create a framework in this area, and through this framework, we guide the various pillars of sustainability towards sustainable development. It should note that this framework can not be implemented by the owners alone and must be supported by government agencies and facilities.

“The affordability of housing is a pressing problem that not only affects individual households but also has implications for the wider economy and environment, e.g. employment, health, and sustainability. (Emma Mulliner and Vida Maliene, 2011)” [1] “Considering a range of social and environmental criteria can greatly affect the calculation of an areas affordability, in comparison to focusing solely on financial attributes. (Emma Mulliner et al., 2013)” [2] Attentively, the elements of architectural design, interior design, lending and financing, adaptability, technical support, and ecosystem conservation are among the most important influencing factors, each of which must be considered separately.

Sustainable Housing: An Innovative Solution

Sustainable housing development is an effort that can reduce carbon in the environment as a creative solution. Approaches to mitigating climate-related effects on housing can significantly reduce the destructive effects of high carbon.

Reconstruction costs will be much lower than construction costs. On the other hand, design is essential in these reconstructions because it will lead to the formation of a tranquil environment at a reasonable price and will reduce energy consumption and waste. In addition, more cost-effective approaches such as building renovations using innovative design elements in a sustainable development framework can also be considered a creative solution.

“It is essential to target resources at enforcing building regulations, providing sufficient social and affordable housing and the social infrastructure required for sustainable communities, adequate management and maintenance, and retrofitting the unsustainable housing constructed in the past. (Nessa Winston, 2010)” [3]

The World’s First Self-Sustaining Eco Village near Amsterdam, Source:

“Ecovillages are burgeoning communitarian phenomena in post-industrialized countries whose members push for ecologically sustainable change. (Christina Ergas, 2010)” [4]

Ecovillages and Sustainability

The ability of human illustration has improved considerably in recent years. These sketches, created with the help of the design element, have been able to develop numerous sustainable models and draw innovative ideas for human housing. We know these designs are being implemented in larger formats and expanded in various parts of the world by organizations and governments as a model for the future of life on Earth. The primal model of human life inspired houses, and group gatherings in areas in the heart of nature, creating urbanization and great civilizations over the years.

“Ecovillages provide important insights into the human dimensions of sustainability but remain relatively unexplored. (Debbie Van Schyndel Kasper, 2008)“ [5]

Sustainable villages have all the elements of sustainability; they create a sustainable energy cycle using creative energy reduction methods. On the other hand, they have lower maintenance costs and need lower costs for renovation. The comfortable design element is one of the main points that has been observed in nature in these sustainable houses. Perhaps one of the reasons for the non-extensive of these villages is that they are not affordable for all people and that people do not change from urbanization to less populated areas. Although the tendency of people living in big cities to rural and sparsely populated areas has increased, we are still far from these sustainable villages. What is certain is that Eco Village designs are moving towards creating sustainable cities, and perhaps this is an innovative solution for consumer-oriented urbanites!

“Ecovillages suggest the necessity of a paradigm that facilitates a sense of community wider than the traditional human one. It means that people have a more accurate understanding of the complex interrelations between themselves and the land. Still, they feel obligated to steward the land that gives them so much. And this obligation is largely motivated by a conviction that it is the right thing to do. (Debbie Van Schyndel Kasper, 2008)” [5]

Let's consider the cost-effectiveness of these sustainable villages as one of the most essential and primary factors. It will be easier to change the mental pattern of the citizens because financial and investment support is provided for the citizens. Although the experience of sustainable buildings is not limited to Ecovillages, and there are sustainable and energy-efficient homes in many cities around the world now, perhaps the most cost-effective way is renovating old buildings in a new and sustainable style.

In Conclusion:

Nature-inspired architectural design, interior design in line with natural elements, cost-effectiveness, and sustainable renovation were the most critical factors considered for sustainable housing following natural ecosystems. Initial designs of eco-villages are a promising perspective on human life in the future. The advancement of imaging technology can draw a vision of a sustainable city under sustainable structures. IIn addition, renovating old facilities and turning them into sustainable buildings can help extend the culture of creating sustainable houses in communities. In this regard, the role of cost-effectiveness is one of the key pillars, and there is a need for support from larger organizations in this area.

Author: Majid Zamanshoar


More Information:

  • David A. Turcotte and Ken Geiser, A Framework to Guide Sustainable Housing Development, [online] Available at:

  • Charles L. Choguill, The search for policies to support sustainable housing, [online] Available at:

  • Gill Seyfang, Community action for sustainable housing: Building a low-carbon future, [online] Available at:

Food Circle's Sustainable Development Approaches: