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Friday, December 5, 2008

Green Architecture

How green are our buildings?




What do you mean by `green architecture?'

Green architecture is nothing but a sustainable form of architecture, which is not only environmentfriendly in use, but also in the way buildings are constructed, operated and utilised. It is not a new concept but has been present and practised in India over the last few centuries. However, during the last four to five decades, Indians have let go of their roots, in the zest to get modernised. Our old forts and havelis are prime examples of green architecture. 
   A green building or home by definition is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources - energy, water and materials - while reducing buildings' impact on human health and the environment, through better sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal.


Why is there a need to have green buildings?

As we look around, it is obvious the effect of the use and abuse of the mother earth, which has been done over the centuries. Global warming is the prime example of this and 40% of the energy used in the world today goes into construction of buildings in some form or the other. As a result, in 12 months in a year, we use natural resources of over 14 months, thus depleting the habitat we live in. By making buildings green and reducing the carbon footprint, we can ensure to a large extent that this is arrested and reversed. 
   In regard to electricity consumption, in 2002, buildings used 67.9% of the total amount consumed in the US. With 51.2% used by residential buildings and 48.8% by commercial buildings, 38.1% of the total amount of carbon dioxide in the US can be attributed to buildings - 20.6% from homes and 17.5% from commercial use. Part of this has to do with the homes and buildings, besides people travel by automobiles everyday. With ominous statistics such as these, it's little wonder that people are fast turning to innovative and eco-friendly methods of designing and constructing buildings.


Suggest some measures that can be taken in everyday life to make our surroundings green?

Each and every human being can contribute in their own way by simple methods such as using recycled paper, sharing transport, using energy efficient lights and fixtures, avoiding using plastic, using natural light in day-to-day use, efficient use of water, segregating garbage in different categories, planting trees which use less water among others. Fortunately today's youth is conscious of this and I feel being aware is half the job done.


Can existing infrastructure be converted into green buildings? If yes, how?

Existing infrastructure can be converted to green buildings by adopting small to large changes depending on the existing skin and soul of the building. Every building can by and large be viewed by two aspects which can be passive - like orientation of the building, material used, insulation, most of this can be improved or added while the other one being active with features like air conditioners, plumbing and electrical system which can be altered to make the building green.


As regards your signature project -Wipro Technologies, the LEED certified green building in the world, what is the principle followed?

The only principle I followed was to design a building which was sustainable, energy efficient and respecting natural resources like sun, water and earth. We did a lot of research for this project in terms of technology and materials. However, the character of this design was always born to be sustainable.



   Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group


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