We have shifted to public transportation to help avoid vehicular emissions, switched to cleaner sources of energy and even turn off our lights every year for Earth Hour. While these changes help curb pollution and mitigate climate change on a macro level, there are ways to contribute in a micro level as well – by making the very houses we live in unpolluted, sustainable environments thereby reducing carbon emissions and saving energy.
Another reason to embrace green is they have the super power of reducing stress levels. Perhaps, a few offices in the city have incorporated green, not just in the building premises but inside the office floors too.
“Green projects encourage healthy working and living spaces. There are a plethora of options available to create these green spaces. Foliage, especially trees and shrubs aid in the removal of dust and other pollutants from the air, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. Moreover, mechanical systems and energy, efficient water fixtures, sustainable building materials, passive solar heating, healthy indoor air quality, and optimal natural light inside residences aid in creating more sustainable buildings,” opines Shabbir Kanchwala, Senior Vice President, K Raheja Corp.
Shabbir believes there is a shift in mind set and going green has taken over real-estate industry too. Speaking of the materials and methods used in geen architecture, he says, “There are a wide variety of new technologies used in green buildings such as Net Zero Concept (Zero Energy and Zero Water Concepts) which depend on renewable sources to produce as much energy as they use. HVAC (Heating ventilation, and air conditioning) helps in the flow of warm and dehumidified air in all rooms and is the most quiet and convenient way to cool an entire home. Glazing is another technique used wherein a Low ‘e’ double glazed glass is used to reduce the heat entry into the building. Making use of local and recycled materials is crucial. The reduction or no use of low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, adhesives and sealants are better for the environment, for indoor air quality and are approved for use by people with environmental sensitivities. Efforts to increase water capacity should be balanced with greater conservation and water efficiency efforts. Low flow fixtures, sewage treatment through reuse of recycled water for flushing and landscaping.”
What would be the maintenance cost and effort? Shabbir says green buildings make good business sense, delivering return on investments within three to four years. “Though the use of new technology might see additional effort and funds required in the construction of a green building, the rewards of these are far higher and satisfying,” he adds.
Although incorporating green factors in the planning and construction stage itself will see significant results, provisions for rainwater harvesting, organic farming, re-use and recycling of wastewater can be incorporated in existing green buildings as well.
K Raheja Corp has signed a memorandum of understanding with the CII-Green Building Council to construct green buildings, back in 2007 itself. One of their properties has incorporated green architecture; Mindspace Madhapur. “The park also has its end to end waste management system. Factors such as water to dried leaves, wasted food to use of glass in the buildings, Mindspace Madhapur does not give out any waste into the local municipal waste, and it is all re-used within the business park,” he proudly informs.
Parish Kapse, founder and strategist at Team One Architects says, “Feasibility at a household level can only be restricted to post-occupancy features like power saving and eco- friendly refrigerant gases for air conditioning system. Energy saving lighting fixtures/lighting designs with the virtue of using day-light harvesting elements. This can be done with appropriate light shelves or glazing systems. Water saving sanitary appliances which can save water for flushing. Also, recycling of discharge water can effectively use water for non-portable activities,” he elucidates on geen houses.
The main logic of green architecture evolves from reduce, reuse & recycle. “In this sequence, the recycled materials which can be reused are generally materials which fall into the ‘green material’ category. Green specifications are applicable for all materials which have a recycle-component of more than 70%,” Parish supplements the above statement.
Says Parish, “It is our only chance now to minimise the after effects and wake up for preventing incurable damage to nature. It needs to be saved and prevented from the attack of the new industrial and digital resolution which India, as a whole, is also looking up to.”
Speaking about the maintenance and effort, Parish says, “The advantages of green are more to do with fundamental planning and basic design. For example, an office with a blank wall on the south/south-west side will have lesser heat dissipation, which automatically reduces the air conditioning cost.” Not just in population, India is the second largest producer of bamboo in the world after China.
Prashanth Lingam, co- founder of Bamboo House India, who not just decorate but build houses with bamboos says it is one of the strongest building material.
“In fact, tensile strength of bamboo is stronger than steel and since bamboo is a grass and tree and this makes it a complete sustainable material perfect for architecture” he shares.Prashanth assuredly states that bamboo has engineered products like flooring/ roofing, walling , doors and window frames and whole lot of building material which can perfectly fit in modern urban construction and lifestyles.
“Mostly we see urban upper middle class customers going for bamboo as a building material as they are slightly expensive compared to regular materials due to various sectorial issues plaguing the Indian bamboo sector,” he voices about the target audience.
How can one be benefitted by bamboo house in different seasons? Answering to the question, Prashanth says “Bamboo being a natural building material has a wonderful feature of inhaling and exhaling- it keeps cooler in summer and warm in winter and false ceiling with bamboo gives a temperature drop and best would be to opt for bamboo blinds during summer time and experience temperature drop in the room.”
“Bamboo in its natural and engineered form has great aesthetic and functional appeal, it is just that the awareness is low due to various sectorial issues. Having said that, a few months ago, govt. of India has made some changes to forest act to promote the use of bamboo.Thus, the future holds lot of promise for the material and architecture,” he concludes.
Purnima Sriram / The New Indian Express