Ecological sanitation as impetus for sustainable architecture

  • YEAR
    2006
  • AUTHORS
    Del Castillo, Nicolo
  • CATEGORIES
    2006 Conference Papers
    Human Issues
    Sustainable Building

Extract

ABSTRACT: This paper aims to re-frame the problem of sustainable architecture from a purely
technological standpoint to a cultural standpoint. The concept of sustainable development and
sustainable architecture is such that it requires a paradigm shift about human life on earth. Although
this shift in the way we think of our environment and our impact on it is gaining ground, most of the
efforts have been centred on technological capacities and impacts on the earth.

The paper proposes that Ecological Sanitation or Ecosan, as it is becoming popularly known, be used
as an impetus for the creation of a sustainable development demand. Ecosan treats human excreta as
a resource that is fed back into plant life, thereby providing a cycle that is “a sustainable, closed-loop
system” (EcoSanRes, 2004). Ecosan, however, requires a drastic shift in the way we behave and in
the way we view human waste.

So far, sustainable technologies have only come up with options that are either of secondary
importance to users and consumers, such as “green building materials”; or offer minimal disruption or
changes to lifestyle, such as renewable energy technologies. However, these technologies do not
involve the users of these buildings themselves such that attitudes toward the environment are hardly
changed. Ecosan is a concept that forces the individual to confront the ecological issue on a personal
scale through the impact human waste processing has on the earth.

Architectural science education can be a venue in investigating how Ecosan can be integrated into
habitats and how liveable these habitats can be. It can take the lead in multi-disciplinary efforts to
make ecological sanitation a viable option, and lead to the creation of a demand for it. Architectural
education can demonstrate how such a seemingly drastic change in lifestyle can be “artistically viable”,
and thus socially acceptable.

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