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.

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.