Building the future
As green architects explore the relationship between architecture and ecology, there is a swelling demand for buildings that are cleaner, healthier. Structures that are affordable but deplete fewer natural resources.
Indian cities are facing a huge construction boom right now. The construction industry is in a building frenzy..building homes, building hotels, building flats, building airports, building malls...building the nation. Bricks, sand, wood, stone, cement, glass and steel are being used to fuel this uncontrolled growth of our cities.
These modern building materials are very energy intensive consuming large amounts of energy and other natural resources and harming the environment around them. Not only that, even after a building comes up they demand vast amounts of energy for heating/ cooling, lighting etc.
Buildings consume approximately 37 per cent of the energy and 68 per cent of the electricity produced in the United States annually, according to the US Department of Energy. Buildings produce roughly a third of carbon dioxide emissions and other emissions that harm air quality and contribute to global warming. As energy prices and atmospheric temperatures continue to rise, energy efficiency techniques and green building can help reduce operating and consumption costs — and slash greenhouse gas emissions as well.
Green design is the catch-all term for a growing industry trend within the fields of architecture, construction, and interior design. Also referred to as “sustainable design” or “eco-design”, the broad principles of green design are fairly simple: choose energy efficiency wherever possible; work in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the project site; and use materials that are sustainably grown or recycled rather than new materials from non-renewable resources.
Moreover, a welldesigned “green” building can be cheaper to build and operate over the building’s lifetime. Passive solar architecture, composting toilets, rainwater storage, energy efficient lighting, renewable building materials are some of the innovative design solutions that green architects are working with. There is an increased need for architects who understand ecology and try an incorporate that understanding into their work.
Over 25 million families in India do not have a home. One of India’s major tasks is to provide a home to all these people. By using energy intensive materials like burnt brick, concrete and steel we will add to the vast energy crisis and deplete precious natural resources.
Low cost mud architecture can pay a major role here. Says well known Kerala based ‘earth architect’ Laurie Baker, “Mud is the material for the 21st century. It has been tried and tested for over the years.
If only we apply our 20th century know-how and techniques to our age-old mud, we can solve this housing need without adding to our energy problem.” Surprisingly, nearly half of the world’s population still lives in buildings where mud has been used as a major building material.
Hasan Fathy’s book Architecture for the Poor, first published in 1969, was the first serious attempt to focus on mud architecture. Today Fathy is an inspiration for many earth architects
the world over. India desperately needs such inspired architects. Will you be the one?
Want to be an Eco-Designer?
Mainstream architecture is yet to fully appreciate what green architecture means. If you are keen to pursue this as a career option then be ready to teach yourself all that there is to learn in this field. A younger more eco-conscious generation of self-motivated architects is beginning to influence the profession.
In India there are few courses exclusively teaching sustainable architecture, but environmental construction and engineering as a topic is beginning to filter into conventional academics. In India or abroad, you can design your very own rewarding career in sustainable architecture. Build your own future.
Some useful websites:
A c t i v i t y
CALCULATE/ What is the ‘hidden’ energy of your home or school building? It takes a lot of energy to build a house. The most obvious energy comes from the builder, the carpenter and the other trades people who construct the building. But there is also a great deal of 'hidden' energy that was used to make and transport the building materials to the site. The energy that is consumed by all of these processes is called 'embodied energy'. It offers a general guide to the amount of pollution involved in its manufacture. Typically, low energy material are less polluting. Now try and investigate what materials have been used to build your home or school.
1. Try and find out from where did this material come from. Source the original place where it was mined and extracted from. Get information about the present situation about that region/place. Building contractors will be able to help you.
2. Plot the distance travelled for each of the material — stone, sand, cement, wood, steel — to reach your city and finally your home/school.
3. Calculate the total carbon emissions of transporting this material.
4. Quantify the total embodied energy of your building.
5. Discuss how you could have used more eco-friendly materials. What alternative materials are locally available.
There are useful tools available on the internet to help you calculate embodied energy and carbon emissions.