Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Green Architecture For India

Almost non-existent in modern Indian cities till few years back, sustainable architecture is now gaining some attention. However, it may not be wrong to state that ambiguity on what exactly constitutes sustainable architecture do exists as well.

In India, ancient reservoir of knowledge can help reduce energy consumption in buildings today. To some extent "Vaastu Shastra" do advocate and guide us on how to create green buildings. Climate-responsive architectural design is age old tradition in India and courtyards, clusters, wind towers, roof terraces and jaalis (stone lattices) were built for effective climate control. The need is to combine modern technology with traditional methods. It may also be said that for an ideal green building all one has to do is to look and get ideas from nature. As in his hugely  successful book Design with Nature, published in 1969, Ian McHarg says that: “If one accepts the simple proposition that Nature is the arena of life and that a modicum of knowledge of her process is indispensable for survival and rather more for existence, health and delight, it is amazing that how many apparently difficult problems present a ready solution.”

While designing with nature at a building level, one should recognise sun paths, breezes, shade trees and rock formations so that people can inhabit comfortably. Natural features like trees, animal tracks, habitats and natural drainage systems must also be protected. Building a collection pond for rainwater is another ancient method to reduce consumption of supplied water. Rainwater flows are retained and water runs into a pond at the lower end of the site. 

It must also be understood that the social, political, economical and cultural context of India would also have to be addressed while designing environmentally sustainable architecture so that solutions are sensitive to its particularities.

"Using conservative design methods, a potentially staggering impact on the power-water consumption of the country could result if effective ways are found to support change in products and processes across the built environment. Imagine if buildings could be designed to be used through the day without electrical lights, or to run air-conditioning needs on pre-cooled recycled water or to use all natural and paid resources conservatively and then say multiply this model to the entire city to gauge the impact," points Aashish V. Karode (B.Arch.; M.U.D. (Berkeley) Principal, Planning and Design Services, Design Atelier, New Delhi)

CII - Godrej Green Business Centre, Hyderabad is the first platinum rated green building in the world outside the USA. It is the first platinum rated green building of the world under LEED version 2.0.

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