Sustainable communities refer to living environments that have been modified, built or planned to ensure that life is not threatened by diminishing limited resources, and that continuity of life is guaranteed through the various mechanisms put in place by people inhabiting that environment or making up that community. In other words, it is about using resources to meet current existing needs while at the same time ensuring that enough resources are preserved for future generations (Mark and Sean 17). Sustainability aspects put in place by inhabitants of any given community center around development, energy, waste materials, transportation and water. In broader aspects, these factors can be classified into ecological, social and economic aspects of system organization for building sustainable communities. Sustainable communities are also known as eco villages or intentional communities because people come together with common goals and objectives in mind. Some of the most outstanding characteristics of these sustainable communities include recycling, composting and reusing of energy, water, soil and other resources that can be conserved this way, decision making in these communities is by consensus, there is shared responsibility for maintaining the required standards in the community, structures are built and maintained with sustainability in mind with use of green materials which can be decomposed or recycled, and there is also respect for individual space and needs (Hugh 45).
Ecological systems for building sustainable communities
According to John in his book ‘Stumbling toward sustainability (26),’ the ecological system mostly has to do with the environmental factors that comprise the naturally occurring resources, which are rather hard to replace once they are depleted. In this case, it becomes necessary to look into ways of recycling and reusing materials that are rather hard to come by. For example, with the increasing demand for energy, there is need to consider renewable and recyclable sources of energy. Renewable sources of energy help in maintaining a clean environment because waste materials that tamper with the environment are kept at the minimal. When thinking of ecological systems to maintain a sustainable community, it would be important to keep in mind issues like quality public transport that keeps off environmentally unfriendly fumes. What of the oil spills on large water bodies that affect both marine life and human life? This is because it pollutes the very source of water that populations depend on for sustainability. It is especially important to keep in mind the issue of global warming that is affecting living conditions on planet earth when thinking of use of recyclable materials. Ecological systems are also concerned with reduction of consumption of essential natural resources, meaning that people ought to live within ecological limits, hence preserving, saving and enhancing natural resources and maintaining sustainable resource management of resources such like soil, water, air, energy and agriculture (Mark and Sean 12).
Social systems that enhance building of sustainable communities
Social systems aimed at building sustainable communities must focus on educating people of the need of creating sustainability. This is because, when people are armed with knowledge, they are at a better position to work together towards achieving common goals for the good of all. Some of the issues that can be looked at include creation of community based projects geared towards provision of basic needs at cheaper costs and with much more ease. This is geared towards improving physical capital by focusing on assets like public services and facilities like hospitals and schools, water and sanitation, safe and quality housing facilities, efficient transportation and telecommunication. As an example, a transportation system that is characterized by walking, public transportation and cycling is more environmental friendly than private automobiles which increase the levels of pollutant emissions and increase the use of energy. This contributes to human capital by bringing down the levels of disease causing pollution and number of accidents and also raises the amount of exercise that people get. For social systems to be very effective, it calls for the input of representative local governance, strong organizations and availability of information, active participatory planning and collaboration among all stakeholders (Peter and Isabella 23).
Economic systems towards sustainable development
Economic systems geared towards building sustainable communities should aim at strengthening economic capital. This means that communities need to focus on maximizing the use of existing capital and resources, while using less of the same. For example, recycling of waste as a source of resource for use elsewhere, circulation of financial capital within a given community, creation of new products, establishment of community financial institutions and trading fairly with others within the community are all fair approaches of economic systems towards building sustainable communities. It also means that the communities create job opportunities, especially in the ‘green’ sector, which ensure equal employment opportunities for all members (Alan, Charles and Karen 68).
At a glance building sustainable communities calls for ultimate cultural realization of communities, how they want to live, their ability to manage their needs, desires and dreams in effective and considerate ways. With the advancing technology, it is possible to merge social, economic and ecological aspects together to come up with means of sustainable development that will not only support survival for the current generations but also for the coming generations. However, all this cannot be possible without the incorporation of democracy. Creation of sustainable communities is a process that must encompass participatory development. The civil society is the best party that envisions change, more than the government or the marketplace inhabitants. Mobilization of communities is hence crucial in order to incorporate partnership and collaboration from all stakeholders to development (Daniel and Michael 89).