Sunday, September 30, 2018

Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency?

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building. However, there have been instances where overly optimistic energy modeling helps cause the “energy performance gap,” a problem that has become frustratingly familiar in green building projects.

Many of the green buildings do not live up to hype on energy efficiency. Analysts call it the “energy performance gap” — the difference between promised energy savings in green buildings and the actual savings delivered. The problem, researchers say, is inept modeling systems that fail to capture how buildings really work. Richard Conniff who is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and other publications says, "Buildings account for 40 percent of climate change emissions and are the fastest growing source of emissions."

The performance gap refers to the failure of energy improvements, often undertaken at great expense, to deliver some (or occasionally all) of the promised savings. A study last year of refurbished apartment buildings in Germany, for instance, found that they missed the predicted energy savings by anywhere from 5 to 28 percent. In Britain, an evaluation of 50 “leading-edge modern buildings,” from supermarkets to health care centers, reported that they “were routinely using up to 3.5 times more energy than their design had allowed for” — and producing on average 3.8 times the predicted carbon emissions.

In an article published in Yale E360, Conniff says, "The performance gap is “a vast, terrible enormous problem,” in the words of one building technology specialist, and that’s not an exaggeration.  Though much of the public concern about energy consumption and climate change focuses on automotive miles-per-gallon, the entire transport sector — including trains, planes, ships, trucks, and cars — accounts for just 26 percent of U.S. climate change emissions.  Buildings come in at 40 percent, and they are the fastest growing source of emissions, according to the U.S. Green Building Council."

The organization that gives LEED certification is now requiring that developers post actual energy usage on an online data base. Read full article here:

Friday, September 28, 2018

How green buildings save the environment buildings can help in environment protection by adopting sustainable construction and operation strategies. According to green building experts, it makes sense to implement sustainable features during design and planning stage itself. Once construction starts, it becomes almost impossible to alter the fundamental requirements like optimum orientation.

Builders should also follow climate responsive design by practicing good construction management that includes preserving existing vegetation and natural features like ponds, water bodies, contours etc. Also, by avoiding excavation work during monsoon can ensure that soil erosion does not take place. Similarly, the top soil should be preserved for reusing later in landscaping work. Water should also be judiciously used during construction activity.

The construction work of any building (big projects in particular) pollutes air, hence, appropriate air pollution control measures such as minimum 3 meter high barricading all around the construction site, wheel washing facility and sprinkling of water on loose soil, must be used.

The practice optimizing the supply by recycling and reusing sewage water on site and storing the rainwater along with minimizing the demand by use of water efficient fixtures (low flow faucets, dual flush WCs, efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation) can help achieve water sustainable build-ups.

Once the construction is over, the green buildings by using natural sources of energy, lighting, ventilation, temperature control etc not only help save environment but also reduces the cost of living in them in long run.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Water Harvesting as a Green Building Practice
Green buildings, as we all know, refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. Well, the most of the efforts are directed towards creating greener constructions, the new practice or objective is also to help both home and office owners to reduce waste, environmental degradation and pollution. One of the best examples of green building practices is rainwater harvesting.

Experts say that by harvesting rainwater the use of drinking water for various domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes can not only be reduced but the devastating effects of drought and rainfall can also be minimized. Water harvesting has also a positive effect over groundwater. Adopting methods to increase groundwater recharge is another essential green building practice because groundwater protects the environment against climate changes. 

Rainwater harvesting systems can broadly classified as passive and active. Though rainwater is non-potable, it can be safely used for activities like washing cars and lawn irrigation etc. Active systems often uses pumps to supply the water to the distribution. The active systems may also include water treatment arrangements so that rainwater is made safe for washing, toilet flushing and evaporative cooling. Passive systems are actually small barrels placed at the end of downspouts.

Harvesting rainwater reduces Flooding and Erosion, and also water bills. It can improve plant growth. Can also be used for almost all non-drinking purposes and hence reduces demand on ground water.

Green building design must ensure rational use of natural resources.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Where have forests been lost and gained?

Image: Global Forest Watch

Global forest area, since 1990, has shrunk by 3.1 million square km. Many of these losses occurred in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Forests actually cover over 30% of the world’s land, but human activity is chipping away at the tree line. Another fact is that the growth and decline of forest cover is not uniform. On one hand some countries are rapidly removing trees from their ecosystem, others are seeing increases in their forest cover.

The forest area is in decline and one of the reason for this is expanding agricultural land use and increasing demand for wood and paper products. At the outset of the 20th century, there was approximately 50 million square km  of forest around the world. This has shrunk to 40 million square km. Some of the areas have shocking figure - like West Africa, for example, has lost a shocking 90% of its forest cover over the last century – in a number of countries, all of the forest outside of protected areas has been logged, while illegal logging threatens parks and reserves. Similarly, the Amazon Rainforest which is one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet, has faced wrath from human activity over the last few decades. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Africa is also grappling with deforestation.

Forest renewal

The bright side of the story is that many of the governments are increasingly protecting habitat in the form of nature reserves and national parks. China, for example, is a place where there have been big increases in forested areas. Europe, in particular, has seen widespread regeneration of forests over the past century. Thankfully, the 5 countries with the most forest cover – Russia, Brazil, Canada, U.S., and China – are attempting and moving towards forest renewal.

Image: World Bank

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (or Global Goals for Sustainable Development) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015. Also known as "Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," the goals are actually a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Based on the successes of Millennium Development Goals, the 17 goals include new areas like climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. Here is the list of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

As the lead UN development agency, UNDP is helping implementation of the Goals through their work in over 170 countries and territories. However, achieving these 17 goals will also require the partnership and support of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations!

Goal 11 of this list 'Sustainable cities and communities' aims to significantly transform the way we build and manage our urban spaces. It also involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive.

Green architecture is the new 'mantra' of emerging generation of architects!

Green architecture is the new 'mantra' of emerging generation of architects wish to do more than creating beautiful architectural designs. The objective of architecture is to shelter and enhance man's life on earth and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence. These new designers are out to protect the environment and create designs that make great places to live, work, and play. These architects who design with purpose think of local climate, culture, and economic conditions before starting on to a new project.

"Architecture to me is about this gracefulness of life, about loving the interplay of forms in graded light, the visual connections between spaces and the landscape variation that includes plant life, air, earth, and water as part of each building," says Aashish Karode, the Principal, Planning & Design Services at Design Atelier, New Delhi, India. He further states, "I believe that improved performance and sustainable practices in Architecture and Urban Design have a staggering impact on busineses as also the entire economy. In fact a 60% of the power consumed by the economy is accounted by the built environment".

Architecture to designers like Aashish Karode begins with the excitement of creating lively environments where the symbolism of the architectural artifact and the embedded landscape enliven the whole ensemble.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sustainable Heritage: Global Vision, Local Experiences

4th IACC was an architectural conservation world conference hosted by Dubai city in February 2016. As paradoxical as it may sound, the event titled “Sustainable Heritage: Global Vision, Local Experiences” brought out some very intriguing discussions ranging from cultural heritage in conflict zones to community engagement in conservation efforts along with reflections on whose heritage is it really and what constitutes a community in context of international migration & urbanization.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Combining Traditional Methods of Sustainable Architecture With Modern Technology

Modern green building practice constantly think of inventing new technologies in architecture to combat the ill effects of energy-depleting technology. However, if we look back at ancient practices in Indian architecture and combine these with contemporary technological innovations, then we may attain significantly in our goals sustainable architecture. Fusing traditional methods with modern technology will, actually, help to achieve higher efficiency. For example, the ancient cooling techniques of stepwells could be adapted in modern architecture as natural way of cooling the buildings. Even if air-conditioners are used in the building planned with the ancient cooling techniques, they will consume significantly less energy as the temperatures will be low in these building because of the natural air chilling. 

Ancient Indian civilization has always respected its environment and this explains why our traditional architectural designs were so sophisticated and even climate responsive. A close observation of our ancient architecture will reveal that in India the practice of using climate-responsive design, use of local and sustainable materials, water harvesting, etc. dates back to thousands of years. Architectural elements like courtyards, clusters, wind towers, roof terraces and jaalis (stone lattices), among others, were used for effective climate control keeping social and cultural needs in mind.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

How green is my building

A conference on building sustainability in Bangalore by TERI was organized recently to highlight on the emerging trends and recommendations relevant to the industry. TERI has advised architects, builders, developers, individual home-builders and organisations to evaluate the ‘health of a building’ with nationally acceptable green paradigms. The rating system is based on accepted energy and environmental principles that strike a balance between established practices and emerging concepts. The 6th GRIHA Conference in Bangalore by TERI had engaged with key stakeholders and deliberations to share solutions for accelerating and mainstreaming sustainability in the built environment.

The conference, organised in the wake of the recent government policy on Smart Cities, brought together eminent scientists, research professionals, academicians, practitioners and building industry stakeholders, enabling the sharing of best practices and latest developments on sustainable habitats. It assumes significance as India is expected to become the third largest construction market in the world by 2025. However, the green building footprint is just about three per cent of the current building stock of 25 billion sq. ft, and this is expected to reach 100 billion sq. ft by 2030. 

In an interview with The Hindu-Property Plus, architect Minni Sastry of TERI said,"We recommend location-specific alternative construction methodologies for going green in high-rises where modular and straightforward structural designs can bring down cement, steel and concrete consumption by nearly 25 per cent."

Minni Sastry is Fellow & Area Convenor at Centre for Research on Sustainable Building Science, TERI-South Regional Centre. She is one of the green consultants involved in the GRIHA Building Certification taken up by the institute.

One of the most important GRIHA LD criteria is to find out the carrying capacity of the land, for its ability to absorb population growth without considerable degradation or damage, and this is based upon water availability and available green cover per-capita.

The determining factors include:

1. Water – Quantum of municipal supply and other sustainable sources.

2. Green cover – Total per capita available/made available on site.

Why wood is the best choice in building materials

Wood is a unique building material which is environment friendly and consumes the least amount of energy when processed. Moreover, the wood has the property of storing carbon and has a very low carbon footprint compared to non-wood materials. One of the exceptional quality of wood is its capacity to maintain the quality of a living organism even after tree felling and therefore is also capable of absorbing unpleasant odours. The wood is porous and hence it can absorb bad odours.

Use of wood in construction and architecture is preferred because it allows for a high degree of prefabrication, rapid installation on site and immediate occupation. Wood creates a pleasant feeling in your apartments, offices and restaurants. wood's resistance against earthquakes is excellent and can conveniently enhance the usability of a space in numerous ways.

Wood is excellent because of its favorable relationship between density and strength. Wood is known for its low thermal conduction, acoustic and elastic qualities. Wood is healthy option as it does not causes allergies and is not radioactive. It balances the humidity in the air and smells nice. Its anti-static is well known.

Wood allows for the highest degree of prefabrication and rapid assembly, due to its dry construction, moving in is possible immediately eventually resulting in lower loan cost

Wood is environment friendly and can store CO2 for decades and even centuries!