Sustainability is expressed as meeting present environmental, social, and economic needs without compromising these factors for future generations A practice cannot be said to be 'sustainable for X years/generations.' The use of any span of time disqualifies the activity. Sustainability is for perpetuity.
Sustainability also means greater efficiency in resource use, ultimately giving benefits to economic growth and overcoming poverty, as well as health and quality of life.
Sustainable design and sustainable development are critical factors to sustainable living. Sustainable design encompasses the development of appropriate technology, which is a staple of sustainable living practices. Sustainable development in turn is the use of these technologies in infrastructure. Sustainable architecture (see Green building) and agriculture are the most common examples of this practice.
Rice Hulls in Construction
. The rice hulls are unique within nature. They contain approximately 20% opaline silica in combination with a large amount of the phenyl propanoid structural polymer called lignin. This abundant agricultural waste has all of the properties one could ever expect of some of the best insulating materials. Recent ASTM testing conducted R&D Services of Cookville, Tennessee, reveals that rice hulls do not flame or smolder very easily, they are highly resistant to moisture penetration and fungal decomposition, they do not transfer heat very well, they do not smell or emit gases, and they are not corrosive with respect to aluminum, copper or steel. In their raw and unprocessed state, rice hulls constitute a Class A or Class I insulation material, and therefore, they can be used very economically to insulate the wall, floor and roof cavities of a super-insulated Rice Hull House. This paper also explains how the structure of such a house can be fashioned out of a variety of engineered lumber products derived from sugarcane rind.
The Hexayurt is a refugee shelter system that uses an approach based on "autonomous building" to provide not just a shelter, but a comprehensive family support unit which includes drinking water purification, composting toilets, fuel-efficient stoves and solar electric lighting.