Sustainability: Are we doing enough?

The quest for achieving sustainability is a hot topic of conservation. Individuals are shifting their habits to try and live more sustainably, and corporations are taking note to satisfy their consumers. But what is happening on a bigger scale?

Stephen Oehme, Value Management Specialist & Sustainability Advocate / Managing Director at Quantum Thailand Ltd, discussed this at the recent virtual Asia Real Estate Summit 2020. Oehme cites that humans are the direct cause of carbon emissions magnified by increased numbers of people living in the built environment, especially in Asia Pacific as people flock to the cities in search of better opportunities.

Carbon emissions are a direct measure of climate change and indicate a lack of sustainable practices. Pollution and waste both increase carbon emissions, and Oehme believes that we must do more than we have in recent years to tackle the negative impact of global warming.

America will soon rejoin the Paris Agreement when Biden takes his presidential role after Trump brazenly exited during his time in office, and Oehme strongly believes that we must come together to lead a more sustainable future. For years we have been talking about it as scientists have warned that global warming is on the horizon, but we have not acted fast and effectively enough.

Governments and communities have debated long and hard about how to make a difference, and despite overall carbon dioxide rates increasing at a slower pace, the levels are still ahead of where they should be. Urban migration and real estate development have been significant factors in increasing these figures.

Carbon measures also indicate what sustainable practices we have adhered to, and humans need to realize their role in implementing these. Oehme states how technology does not dominate the environment but improves it and is key to productivity and efficiency. However, the implementation and development of technology lie in human hands. 

The introduction of green ratings to measure building efficiency are only a tool and will not achieve ultimate sustainability. The fear is that many perceive sustainability comes at an economic cost. Oehme states that yes, sustainability needs to make economic sense, but sustainable cities are achievable. A holistic view needs to be adopted, and people need to be ready to overcome challenges in achieving this.

This original version of this article appeared in