Humanity does not exist in a bubble. Instead, communities depend on the environment to obtain water, food, medicine, building materials, and other essentials they need to survive. Therefore, it makes sense to take into account the condition of natural resources when enhancing communities and creating infrastructure that will facilitate access to essential goods and services.
This principle of ensuring that the environment can meet current human needs without compromising its ability to provide for future generations is called sustainable development. Though the concept’s roots go back to the 17th century, sustainable development itself, in the modern sense, is a fairly new idea that was first institutionalized at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. To control the damage that rapid human development has inflicted upon nature over the years and to ensure that societies of the future will still be able to access natural resources, the current generation must employ sustainable practices in their actions, most especially in infrastructure development. Here are some of the benefits of doing so:
1. Conserve Natural Resources
The reduction of natural resources needed to build a facility that meets the demands of the nearby community is essential to the development of sustainable infrastructure. . This can be done by using recycled materials where applicable, investing in quality materials, and building techniques to ensure the integrity and longevity of the structure, and changing as little as possible in the local environment during the construction process. Integrating advanced and streamlined processes into the operation of the facility can also help minimize its consumption of natural resources. Such practices will enable the infrastructure to meet the current needs of the communities it supports while minimizing the resources that it takes from the environment. This, in turn, will leave more resources available for future use.
2. Curb the Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change is a pressing issue that is actively changing how societies function. Among others, this phenomenon affects global water and food supplies, and it’s a driving force behind many instances of human displacement and forced migrations. To adapt, infrastructure developers are making significant efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change while minimizing the factors that contribute to its rapid manifestation.
In the Philippines, Aboitiz InfraCapital’s LIMA Estate takes the lead in developing smart and sustainable industrial estate. The economic estate in Lipa and Malvar, Batangas, is the first industrial estate to receive the pilot BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence) District Certification with a 5-star rating.
This is the highest rating in the Philippine Green Building Council (PhilGBC) awards through its many initiatives designed to help the community curb the impacts of climate change. These include using renewable solar and geothermal energy, supporting electric vehicles, and adopting an automated water supply system. These efforts enable the industrial park to offset 31,000 tons of carbon emissions yearly. Also, the LIMA Estate works with local communities to clean up waterways and ensure that these areas remain clean. Such efforts can help reduce the occurrence of flooding and maintain sustainable sources of water.
3. Ease of Access to Financial Channels
Many government and non-government organizations are keen on showing their support to infrastructure developers and projects that are designed with sustainability in mind. Considering the impact of climate change and dwindling natural resources, there are a lot of countries that can benefit from infrastructure projects that factor in human and environmental needs. Businesses also aim to associate their brand with eco-friendly practices to showcase their social responsibility and concern for their market and individual customers. Infrastructure developers and communities can count on the financial support and patronage of these entities should they opt to stick with a facility that champions sustainable practices. This can also provide the community with a great opportunity to revitalize local economic activity.
4. Improve Labor and Community Relations
Community members know their environment best, and sustainable infrastructure developers and operators can gain a better understanding of their immediate surroundings by working with their local community. Together, these two groups can identify the challenges and opportunities present in the area and work to preserve its natural resources while meeting the immediate needs of its people. Having a sustainable mindset enables infrastructure developers to engage with and tap into the talents of their local communities, leading to a better relationship between these two groups.
5. Long-Term Savings and Development Options
The advantages of opting for sustainable infrastructure development principles do not stop with the current generation of consumers and developers, as it continues to benefit future generations. Communities that are supported by sustainable infrastructure have a better chance of maximizing their natural and human resources. They are also in a better position to avoid the instability brought about by resource scarcity or the increased occurrence of natural and man-made disasters and the losses that come with these events. Sustainable infrastructure developers and operators, on the other hand, will be able to use and upgrade the facilities they invested in for many years while having an easier time keeping up with changing regulatory and sustainability standards.
Clearly, sustainable infrastructure development offers plenty of advantages to developers, communities, and current and future generations. Putting up these facilities will require a significant investment from all parties, but these efforts and resources will certainly benefit humanity, as a whole, in the long run.