The built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity ranging in scale from personal shelters to neighborhoods to the large-scale civic surroundings. Most of where we live is man-made – from the homes and apartments we live in, to the commercial buildings we work in, to the roads and bridges we traverse on daily.
People place a great amount of financial, physical and emotional investments in the maintenance of their heritage and improvement of infrastructure upon which they depend on for a civilized existence. In order for us to protect and preserve our heritage and investments we must first pride in our local areas and environment. We should focus on methods which embrace reduction in cost through efficient use of resources (energy, waste, water). We should provide environments that contribute to our physical and mental health and enhance creativity and productivity. Our built environment also needs to be flexible and adaptable to future uses, and be resilient to cope with local effects of climate change.
Because of mounting economic pressures and changing environmental conditions over the years, practices within the built environment have evolved. Now, great emphasis is placed on creating a sustainable built environment, through design, construction and management, which will enable all people to live well, within environmental limits.
Many institutions have been established to give the opportunity to not only construct feasible structures but also create surroundings that will preserve our environment and our way of life. These organizations provide consulting services which is often free to the built environment market. They also assist in the design and implementation of programs, policies, and strategies to improve building and infrastructure performance for a broad range of clients including individuals, agencies, local governments, and corporate and institutional owners of real estate. They also help individuals and businesses deal with the risks inherent in the built environment activities.
We spend all of our lives within the built environment and some of us make no provisions for our generations to come. Preserving the built environment started with persons before us and should continue with us.