Thursday, January 31, 2019

Green buildings must do more to reduce energy-related C02 emissions to zero

World over, the buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and since 2010 the global building sector CO2 emissions are up 3 percent. Though this is a matter of concern, yet architects believe that buildings could be actually a possible solution to the climate crisis. Through sustainable measures and practice, buildings could not only greatly reduce their demand for energy, but could generate clean, renewable energy. If warming could be kept below 2℃, the built environment may become carbon-neutral by 2050.

The built environment industries which includes architects, engineers, designers and developers understand that though the concept of “green building” got into reality more than 30 years ago yet not enough has been achieved. It requires willpower policy, regulation and incentives in order to do more to fix our climate emergency.

Our planet has warmed about 1℃ since the 19th century and rising! If it rises to another degree, then it may push the civilization to the brink. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, urgent and unprecedented changes are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) so that we avoid reaching 2℃.

All attempt to reduce energy-related C02 emissions from buildings to zero must be taken with all our capacity., a U.S. based non-governmental organization, recently introduced the first national and international “Zero Code” building standard for new construction. It focuses on designing buildings with high energy efficiency that use no fossil fuels in their operation. The organization is working in California and China to put the policy into practice.

The performance of LEED-certified buildings (and those that are not yet certified) are evaluated against a proprietary dataset and given an “Arc score.” This process anchors our progress to a baseline number, not towards constructing unprecedented sustainable buildings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2019 - The year of a green new deal?

Richard Murphy and Colin Hines have suggested a number of ways on how to raise revenue that could be used to fund energy efficiency in all buildings, renewable and local transport systems. They hope that this green new deal would also provide jobs in every constituency and dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

To deliver this 'green' will, Richard Murphy and Colin Hines writes in the, require that people be convinced that they will benefit and that there is the money to pay for such a transformation. Also, taxes on the wealthy can be increased.

According to them these funding can be raised in many ways including private savings via “green war bonds”. Another mechanism would be to improve tax collection. Also, bank could purchase new debt issued in the form of green bonds by a national investment bank to fund energy efficiency in all buildings, renewable and local transport systems.
Murphy and Colin suggests to use quantitative easing to fund the transition to a sustainable economy. Read more

Friday, December 28, 2018

Dubai’s Impressive Sustainable City Housing Development

The Sustainable City, a housing development in Dubai with 3,500 people already living there and it's still not quite complete. Sustainable City is an amazing achievement. It is a stark lesson to building contractors the world over. It's not more expensive to build and it's remarkably cheaper and more efficient to live in. In fact, Sustainable City is the first operational net zero energy city in Dubai, modeled to become an international showcase for high quality sustainable living.

A new housing development,it recycles water and waste and produces more energy than it consumes. Further out in the desert, Dubai is building a giant solar power plant that will soon be producing some of the cheapest and cleanest electricity on Earth.

The UAE aims to have 75% of Dubai's energy come from clean sources by 2050. If the city pulls that off, it would have the smallest carbon footprint in the world.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Watching a design on paper turn slowly into an expressive, dignified built form!

The pleasure of watching a design on paper turn slowly into an expressive, dignified built form is an experience which only a designer can under stand.

Even with the small land parcels we get, it is a joy to be part of a tradition in architecture that creates spaces of accommodation for children in small towns of India. The team vows to focus on diverse design solutions to offer the kids some space generosity but with a sense of order. One is always hopeful that with all the constraints, the program can yet drive an element of site sensitivity and make naturally lit open space inside and outside the building.

"We want to leave good marks on the earth. We want to work with a thoughtful integrity and a contemporary sensibility because we want our buildings to be loved today and to last. We would measure our work by the pleasure of the lives lived in our buildings and projects," says Aashish V. Karode, the Principal - Design and Planning Services, Design Atelier.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Electronic Voting Machines (EVM): A Green Initiative?

Way back in the year 1977, the then chief election commissioner (CEC) SL Shakdhar, during a tour of Hyderabad, requested the Electronics Corporation of India to study the feasibility of using an electronic device for conducting elections. In 1979, a prototype was developed and the following year, the Commission demonstrated how it worked to representatives of political parties. Today these machines are used in most of the elections in India. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all voters will use EVMs.

Off late, there had been concern by few political parties, who alleged that these machines could be rigged! We will leave that aspect to the politicians but here we will discuss how using these machines could be termed as a green initiative by election commission!

EVMs spell good news for the environment as replace ballot papers, for which hundreds of tonnes of paper were used. According to some reports, during the last parliamentary election, 7,000-8,000 tonnes of paper were required to print ballots wherever needed. This meant the felling of 1.2 lakh fully grown trees. It is estimated that about 10,000 tonnes of paper will be saved through the use of EVMs in all polling booths.

“In the past few decades the Election Commission has progressively and successfully introduced many green initiatives, the most important of which is the use of EVMs, which has saved trees and paper to a large extent,” says former CEC N Zaidi. He also points to yet another environment-friendly move of the EC — the curb on noise pollution by regulating the use of loudspeakers in political campaigns.

Similarly, the Election Commission also wish that use of plastic should also be banned in election including political parties. The World Wide Fund for Nature-India, in a letter to the EC in 1999, had stated that it was “very perturbed over the excessive and non-sensible use of plastic by political parties”, which not only caused “choking of drainage systems in major towns and cities” but also contaminated agricultural fields.

Responding to the letter, the Commission wrote to all political parties, urging them not to use plastic for their posters and banners. (Source: BusinessLine)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Indian green building market to double by 2022

India’s green building market is estimated to double by 2022 at 10 billion sq ft, valuing around USD 35-50 billion. According to property consultant ANAROCK, "Though at a nascent stage, India has emerged as one of the leading countries in terms of green buildings’ projects. India ranks only second after the US in terms of the number of green technology projects and built-up area."

It is estimated that more than 4,300 projects with about 4.7 billion sq ft of built-up area had registered for green technology as of September 2017. This is only about 5 per cent of the total buildings in India, and hence there is huge potential for further penetration of green building technology.

Green building is the practice of using processes and technologies which are environment friendly and energy efficient throughout the building’s lifecycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.

The report said that the growth of green building in India would be driven by increasing awareness, environmental benefits, government’s support, subsidies and compulsions. The improving affordability is also a factor in the growth. The report also pointed out that countries with more population & limited resources that will to adopt green buildings’ practices faster.

LEED (USA), BREEAM (UK), DGNB (Germany) and CASBEF (Japan) are a few of the key global entities that define, categorise and certify green buildings across different countries. In India, IGBC and GRIHA define the green building norms.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

'Green' Refrigerators
All over the world, there are people who are trying to (and in fact have) create 'Green' Refrigerators'. Also, called as Ground Fridge, these devices uses earth to run and cool. The eco-friendly and sustainable efforts increases the chances of replacing conventional fridge for a device that does not use electricity to operate. One such 'Green' Refrigerator has been designed by he Dutch, Floris Schoonderbeek, who inspired the design of the basement making him develop a device that only needs the land to operate. This fridge uses ancient preservation method based on the natural insulation of the earth and the cooling effect of groundwater that keeps vegetables and drinks at 12 ° C throughout the year.

The “Groundfridge” (as named by the inventor) is made from environmentally friendly materials, trying to reduce the carbon footprint in its manufacturing process. It also has a capacity of 3,000 liters and the possibility to accommodate up to 50 kg in food; equivalent to 20 refrigerators. The refrigerator has a spherical shape and measures 2.30 meters in diameter. The interior contains wooden shelves which are ideal for storing vegetables, fruits, wine and cheese.

A more simpler form of 'Green Refrigerator' used in ancient times in India (and even now in villages or in sustainable homes) used to be a big clay pot (matka) which was placed underground with sand as exterior layer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gangadevipally: A 100% Green Village of India
Gangadevipally in Warangal district is a village that has been 100% green village by the Indian Green Buildings Council (IGBC). The council recommended the village as a model for other villages to emulate. Because of this unique and green achievement, the village is all set to receive a platinum rating and a tie up with the tourism department slotted, it might be one of the few to make its way to the world tourism map. The village is just 180 km from the Hyderabad city.

A Green Village, according to the Indian Green Buildings Council, is one which offers access to clean energy, adequate water, basic education, good healthcare, hygienic sanitation, leading to economic prosperity and enhanced quality of life, in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. IGBC Green Village rating is designed to address many of the rural challenges like open defecation, drinking water scarcity, lack of adequate health care, access to basic amenities and power shortage.

Gangadevipally is a small village with only 287 households and 1,352 people but it was zeroed in by search teams that took information and inputs from voluntary organizations and government agencies. It was discovered that green initiatives were running on for years. This village has purified drinking water facility, toilets in every house, garbage segregation at points of collection and even a centralized 50 kw solar power plant that lights up the streets. Each house in the village have LPG stove and individual composting pits. The drainage is via water pipelines.

Gangadevipally village which has got its own public address system and a well-managed website attracts several foreign footfalls, especially NGOs and government agencies from other countries. IGBC had identified a total of 6 `green villages' in India but Gangadevipally is slotted for the highest `platinum' rating.

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.