The origin of the term goes back to the Greek oikos, meaning home, or household, and logos, meaning “word, discourse, of knowledge.” Used for the first time by the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919), the term oekologie, referred to the study of the habitat as it is transformed by various species. It was a way of understanding the interactions between the species and their environments, their habitats; the interactions between the species’ lives, needs, consumption and the life-sustaining resources of their habitat, as well as other environmental factors such as geography, topography, and climate.
In time, since it exposed, in holistic way, environmental destruction caused by our western consumption patterns, ecology challenged the mainstream lifestyles and created a new paradigm for living; finding ways to survive without creating imbalances in ecosystems: light living with limited impact. This paradigm gave way to the grass-roots environmentalism of the 1960s and created strong opposition to unlimited use of natural resources and resource extraction. It also pushed many to question their consumption patterns and search for alternative lifestyles. Around that time the term “eco” was transformed as a prefix to mean anything that is environment-friendly, as in eco-home, eco-district, eco-city, and so forth.
Within the framework of adaptation, it is helpful to remember the root meaning – the knowledge of home, or community, if we expand the meaning of home. As such the term is closely related with equilibrium, since the ultimate practical purpose of this knowledge is to create balance between many competing influences and forces within a community and its use of resources, and its means of production.This affinity between ecology and equilibrium fits well to hyperlocal urbanism that highlights “equilibrium in localization” as an overarching objective.