The word ‘sustain’ means to keep something going, ‘able’ means to be capable of doing and/or completing a particular task and a ‘system’ refers to a set of things working together to form a complex mechanism.
According to my interpretation, a sustainable system is a system that keeps something going, by completing a particular task efficiently, without depleting itself and without causing harmful effects to the environment.
Sustainable systems, cannot be viewed in the short term. We need to consider them with a long term approach. This is because, in the short term resources are likely to be used and to be depleted, so long as measures are taken to restore the consumed resources, so that they are made available to the future generations, a system will be a sustainable one.
An ideal sustainable system must consider social, environmental and economical aspects of society. Social factors include the mindset of the people. Environmental factors include maintaining an ecological balance and taking measures to restore the spent resources. Economical aspects include, costing and commercial feasibility.
The system has to be designed to operate efficiently considering the changes in terms of available resources and the environmental conditions in the future. To sum it up, sustainable systems should aim at finding the right balance between local and global efforts to meet the needs of a human being, without degrading the environment.
The existence of certain circumstances and resources are necessary in order to develop a sustainable system. Basic requirements for a designer to be able to develop such a system are – skills, knowledge, deeper understanding and sensitivity to respond to situations. Along with necessary skills, a designer should understand, what the consumers need or want and what they already have. Consumers consume what designers design.
Considering the rapid rate at which our resources are declining, sustainable systems are the need of the hour.