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Make your home eco-friendly

Friday, November 10, 2017

Expansion of real estate is a must to meet the housing demands of an ever-growing population. At the same time, going eco-friendly has also become the need of the hour. In this context, Sachin Shigwan explores the concept of green homes

There is no question that population growth in most parts of the urbanised and urbanising world is exceeding these areas' ability to accommodate it. Unsustainable growth inevitably leads to environmental changes which, if they cannot actually be reversed, at least must be slowed down. The onus of reducing environmental degradation obviously does not fall solely on the shoulders of sustainable real estate. However, green buildings are definitely an obvious available solution, since designing and buildings real estate which results in lower emissions is in every developer's reach today. It is only a question of awareness and willingness. In a massively populated and increasingly populating country like India, the government is already severely challenged in making basic resources like water and electricity available and managing waste. The situation will not improve without proactive intervention, and in fact only worsen. Sustainable real estate can make a significant dent in this resource deficit if it is deployed in the required magnitude, so we as a country need to go green sooner rather than later.

The necessity of using eco-friendly methods has been underlined by changes in climatic conditions. We need to understand and utilise our resources better, with a focus on following three major factors:

  • Renewable
  • Recyclable
  • Reusable

Eco-friendly buildings are those designed and constructed with an understanding of the impacts on nature, which minimise environmental impacts, instill environment friendly practices in the users. The architect needs to keep in mind the natural contours of the site for drainage, landscaping, orientation of structures and the heat island effect.

Reducing exposure on the east and west side of the buildings taking into account wind direction, shadows of surrounding structures, passive solar techniques, building form, shading devices are all ultimately going to help in reducing energy used during construction as well as for the end user.

Eco-friendly construction practices
Eco-friendly construction practices constitute top soil conservation, wastage of curing water, noise and air pollution control, preventing spillage of hazardous materials, adequate safety and sanitation provisions for labour on site. The materials used in eco-friendly buildings are preferably locally sourced and bio-degradable. Bamboo, Flyash bricks, Ferrocement, pre-cast concrete structures like door frames are some of the materials which are sustainable and energy conserving. A slightly different method of laying a wall, using the ‘rat trap bond’ which has gaps of insulating air trapped inside, is a simple device to reduce heat within a building.

‘Renewable Energy’ in Green Building Concept
Installing Rooftop Photo Voltaic Solar System on the building top can reduce the electricity bills while harnessing free and clean energy from sun. Going with hybrid renewable energy systems like combination of Wind Mill and Solar Energy can provide you more clean energy and earning the tag of ‘Green Building’.  A good solar control glass for a green building must deliver effectively on energy efficiency. The glass must take care of heat gain from direct sunlight and heat gain due to the difference in heat between the inside and outside of a building.

Green building concepts, when implemented to the required extent and intent, will help save water through rainwater harvesting and recycling of waste water, and in reaping benefits from the water energy nexus. They can go further by installing wet waste converter machine for converting waste in to manure, which can be used in the gardens of ‘Green Building’ to make it real green with more and more trees around.

Reusing previously developed sites is one of the best ways to limit the environmental degradation caused by the development process. In addition to preserving a green field site that would be used for your project you are also able to take advantage of existing infrastructure and hopefully limit the impact associated with transportation to a more remote site.

More seminars on eco-housing are needed to shed light on these lesser implemented, but desperately needed methods and materials.

(The Writer is Managing Director of Green India Initiative Pvt. Ltd.)

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