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!