People cannot maintain their spiritual roots and their connections to the past if the physical world they live in does not also sustain these roots.
-Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language
Sustainability can be defined as a material that, if managed carefully, can provide at current levels indefinitely. Sunlight and wind energy are sustainable. They require no input and merely need to be channeled to support human necessities. Sustainable living refers primarily to the components that make up our shelter and communities. However, it also includes our consumption, travel, recycling, and disposal habits.
The construction and operation of conventional houses is one of the most energy-intense activities humans engage in. With little thought given to the materials that go into homes, we unknowingly perpetuate a linear process of life–taking, using, and discarding– instead of a cyclical, sustainable process that bares in mind where materials originate and where they will return. The sustainable process should perpetuate, if not enhance, its starting point.
The principles of sustainable home design consider efficient energy and resource use at every stage of the home-building and operating process: choice of materials, landscaping, water, air, disposal, electrical systems, transportation of materials, construction, site selection, planning and design elements. Ideally, a “green” building is one built in harmony with the sun and the land. It requires little fuel to heat or cool, operates on little or no outside electricity, and is healthy to live in. We are particularly proud of our composting toilets designed and built specifically for Sage Mountain Center, and now used throughout parts of South America as part of a mission project. You can view more about our sustainable living project by watching our videos.
Even though few people can live a 100% sustainable lifestyle, everyone can begin by taking small steps. Changing light bulbs to LEDs, adding more insulation to homes, sealing air leaks around windows and doors, replacing inefficient appliances, and orienting structures to utilize sunlight are simple ways to begin. By using energy and materials as efficiently as possible, we slow the consumption of non-renewable resources, like oil, natural gas, propane, coal, and so on. This immediately curbs the rate of pollution entering the atmosphere, soil, water, and eventually in our bodies. Just as important is eating lower on the food chain and depending on plants as a primary food source. This creates dramatic benefits on multiple levels.