Tessellate Sustainable Architecture for India Hussy Turban, Managing Director, Y. T. Enterprises, GIBE Accredited Professional and LED Green Associate, Combaters. It is important to address sustainable architecture because the practice is almost nonexistent in Indian cities. Also, there seems to be some ambiguity on what exactly constitutes sustainable architecture.
What is Sustainable Architecture? If sustainability were to be given a shape, it would be the shape of a circle. Any aspect of living that can keep moving in a circle without interfering with objects outside this circle can be termed as sustainable, a bit like the Indian political system, where we seem to make enormous strides but every few years we realism that we are back to square one.
In his enormously successful book Design with Nature, published in 1969, Ian McHugh argues 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. ” The key to architectural sustainability is to work with, rather than against, nature; to sensitively exploit and simultaneously avoid damaging natural systems.
Architectural sustainability mirrors the view that it is necessary to position human activities as a non-damaging part of the ongoing ecological landscape, with a belief that ‘nature knows best’. Any green building, architect should identify places with intrinsic suitability for agriculture, forestry, recreation and arbitration. Designing with nature at a building level is about recognizing sun paths, breezes, shade trees and rock formations that an be used to create something that people can inhabit comfortably, while recognizing that natural features such as trees, animal tracks, habitats and natural drainage systems must be ‘protected. For example, if one were to choose a device with high shading coefficient in the summer and a low shading coefficient in the winter, a vine may be used in place of a mechanical system. The vine shades the building when (and only when) it is needed, and the building provides a home for the vine. Thus both the building and the ‘component’ of nature are sustainable. By adding rainwater collection, reed beds for sewage and perhaps wind or solar power for electrical energy, the building can be independent of imported service and exported waste, keeping its environmental footprint within the footprint of the site.
The final archetypal visual image is one of an isolated, self-sufficient buildings dominated by its surrounding landscape. A bit like the circle I talked about earlier. Green Building in India t goes without saying that the version to architecture at I TN described above is seldom practiced in India, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The latest rake-driven surge in green building has had some success at bridging the gap between current building practices and true sustainability.
India is now the second largest market for green buildings. This trend is completely market driven and has been achieved with very little government support. While this sounds fantastic, there is an urgent need in India to extend the technological understanding of sustainable architecture and to incorporate socio- cultural aspects in its production. The need emerges from the fact that Indian architects have failed to recognize the significance of the social dimension in acclimating the sustainable development.
One challenge to Indian’s acceptance of sustainable architecture is the gap between technology and economic status. On one end, sophisticated technology-based solutions have been developed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, but they require a high initial investment that very few can afford. On the other end, affordable, low-cost technologies, such as mud architecture, are already available; however, these do not fit in with the aspirations of the upwardly mobile urban population.
Affordable technology-based solutions are thus seen as the only means f addressing environmental degradation. India and Energy Efficiency In India, environmental agendas and green buildings are often based on the precedents of developed countries. The 2004 draft for the National Environmental Policy of India received heavy criticism for this reason. The issue of energy efficiency is more relevant for developed countries where one- third of the total energy is utilized for heating or cooling of buildings.
When energy efficiency is used as the main criterion for green buildings in India, several critical issues tend to be ignored. For example, the issues of water and sanitation are more critical than energy efficiency in India. Studies indicate that at current rates of population growth and consumption of water per capita, there will be a shortage of drinking water in Indian urban centers within the next decade. That being said, the western model of sustainability works very well and has measurable benefits.
However, economically speaking, I am not entirely convinced, it is the best solution for India. Instead, I believe that we need home grown solutions that propagate self-sufficiency and contemporary regionalism while maintaining centralized approach to sustainability. My personal view is that the debate on sustainable architecture cannot be restricted to quantitative environmental sustainability. It is essential that relationship between social, economic and environmental sustainability should become a critical consideration for the design of Indian’s built environment.
There is little sense in spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest to green buildings very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford. Dippier Matter of the University of Melbourne has rightly pointed out that: By limiting itself to sustainability that is dependent on technology for solutions, sustainable architecture in India fails to incorporate the critical dimension of social and cultural sustainability without which it may not work in the Indian context.
To be environmentally sustainable, architecture would need to also register the social, political, economical and cultural context of India and offer solutions that are sensitive to its particularities. This precludes universal technological solutions in the form of models of environmental sustainability derived directly from the West. Green Buildings the past, the present and the future How it all started? The Green Building movement was pioneered in Great Britain with the rating system called BREAM (which was first launched in 1990.
This system was later adopted in the U. S when the US Green Building Council was formed. LED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was loosely adopted from the BREAM system and came into existence sometime in March 2000. In India, this movement was adopted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (Call) in the early part of this decade. They formed the Indian Green Building Council which is actively involved in promoting the Green Building concept in India.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (ILEC)-INDIA) Green Building Rating System is a nationally and internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas: * Sustainable site * Water efficiency * Energy efficiency and renewable energy * Conservation of materials and resources * Indoor environmental quality * Regional Priority LED India was launched in India in 2003 and since then has grown exponentially.
This has created a large network of smaller stakeholders which includes the construction industry comprising corporate, government ; nodal agencies, architects, developers, builders, products manufacturers and most interestingly green building consultants whose profession was almost unheard of a decade ago. Why are green buildings so relevant n There is no debating that the human race is growing faster than the planet earth can sustain. This unsustainable growth is clearly causing certain environmental changes that need to be reversed or at least slowed down.
Now, there are many different wings we can do by correcting our ways and by minimizing environmental degradation. But green buildings seem to be the lowest hanging fruit in this quest to achieve sustainable growth. Characteristics such as, buildings being responsible for a large portion of our emissions, green buildings being easy to design and build, they do not cost too much and there is no lobby against green buildings unlike other clean development measures that make them a very attractive option for the governments to pursue. The global environmental factors aside, I believe in the Indian context, it is only common sense to build green.
India is a large country with a large population and big problems. It is practically impossible even for the most efficient government to supply water and electricity to 1. 3 billion people and also manage the waste generated by them at no additional cost. We are a water deficient country and the energy crisis seems to be perennial in nature. Moreover, the unsustainable energy and water policies are not helping the cause. Hence I believe its only “common sense” to insulate oneself from the resource crunch and strive towards self-sufficiency and smarter living.
This realization has contributed immensely to the growth and rumination of green buildings. I I Apart from that, green buildings offer the developers, builders and architects an opportunity to get out of the rut that has come about due to the lack of differentiation in projects. Green building has now become “something new’ that was not done the past. Developers are trying hard to leverage their green building credentials for branding purposes and tapping into the new niche market. What does the future hold? India currently has close 1 500 buildings registered to be certified green with over a billion square feet of built up area.
The green building market is expected to touch 50 billion by the end of 2012, creating thousands of Jobs in the process. I am extremely optimistic about the future of this sector in India. Green buildings and the concept of smarter living offers tremendous opportunity for overhauling an average Indian’s lifestyle. As the general public become more aware of the benefits of green buildings, developers will get creative and find new ways to brand, market and sell green buildings, hence creating a conducive atmosphere for the sector to grow exponentially. One only hopes this frantic activity remains clean and green the way it was envisaged to be.