The Sustainable Pragmatist
Sustainability beyond the gimmicks
Ask two people for their definition of sustainability and you will be lucky to receive identical, even similar answers.
It is a term which, despite dictionary disputes, has managed to work its way into the daily dialogue and manoeuvrings of personal and working life, the need for individuals to live and corporations to act more ‘sustainably’ almost universally accepted.
But differences of opinion, often within the same professional disciplines, remain.
Take the architecture and building design trade. There are many internationally recognised standards such as LEED and EDGE which many aspire to, though how to get there is subject to a world of different approaches, priorities and attitudes.
“There are a lot of clichés bandied around about architects and sustainability, but our stance is what I would call a pragmatic approach to sustainability,” muses Andrew Gremley, Founder and co-Director of Nairobibased Pharos Architects.
Involved in establishing the Kenyan Green Building Council, Gremley admits that sustainability is an inescapable consideration for architects on virtually all projects, the dialogue surrounding the subject ramping up immeasurably since he went into business in the 1990s.
His main motivation for moving to Africa from the US was not environmental, however – rather, it was the opportunity to impact people.
“I come from and studied in the United States and after graduation I ended up in a number of fairly dull jobs, so I decided to pursue an alternative which took me to Africa, Tanzania first and then Kenya,” Gremley recalls.
“I was working on shopping malls and airports and over time became more intrigued by work in developing countries, projects which can help people more directly as opposed to boosting the bottom lines of corporations. Straight away we did projects on