A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most importantcomponent of a city is the citizens. As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, Thebuilding sector contributes up to 30% of global annual greenhouse gas emissionsand consumes up to 40% of all energy. It is therefore imperative that we strivetowards more climate resilient cities.
Given the massive growth in newconstruction in economies in transition,and the inefficiencies of existing buildingstock worldwide, if nothing is done,greenhouse gas emissions from buildingswill more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore,if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clearthat decision-makers must tackle emissions from thebuilding sector. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissionsfrom buildings must be a cornerstone of every nationalclimate change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; SustainableConsumption & Production Branch.)
According to the 2011 India Census, there areabout 30 crore houses in the country. About 71% wereoccupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities, 136lakh homes were vacant while, 111 lakh rural homeswere found empty. The above data would be readas a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but forthose who choose to care it shows how “development”as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136, 000, 00 homeslying vacant in urban centres most would be due tofollowing reasons.
- Occupants were living in an alternate abode within thecity or in some other city around the world.
- It was an “investment” in real estate
- It was unsold real estate inventory
And if one would delve deep into the reason of emptyhomes in villages, the compelling reason would be that thevillager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle,we so lovingly call a City. But very soon, it would perhapsbe the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breathof life, if changes which are important and urgent are notaddressed by all stake holders.
What is a Green Building?
A building which during its construction and occupancy,if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practicesfollow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Refuse; canbe termed as a Green Building.
Reduce – A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium,Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt and various rare earth materials.It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined.Forest extracts not only mean logged wood but alsodestruction of forests and wild-life. Thus, from paper topetroleum, textile to leather; almost everything includingthe geographical features, flora and fauna are damaged increating a modern building.
By reducing the use of construction materials throughefficient design and construction practice, the virgin materialsneed to be extracted also get less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover”. For instance, with every Kilo-Watt of powerproduced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) powerplants, one can in a simplistic calculation consider use ofone kg of coal and one litre of water to produce the same.The coal extracted through open-cast mining rips out everytree and grassland, leaves a slush which contaminates therivers (both due to increased silt and decreased rain-fall).The coal burning further creates greenhouse gas emissions.Consequently, with every bit of reduction a construction,an engineer can bring sustainability into a building project.
Reuse – By utilizing existing construction materialsthrough a complete supply chain recycling process and mostamazingly by utilizing existing best designs. If one pausesby any modern township or towers being built around anyof the Indian cities, one would find either flats, row-houses,bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape beingbuilt within that very project. Simply put, a residential toweris nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally andvertically with services areas thrown-in.
Instead of being swayed by occidental designsand ROI, one can arrive at few best designs and keep building them like a “Signature” style. With each newbuilding being built, the design and construction teamwould be able to keep raising the bar of excellence. Foreven if a design is the same, each project would throwin its own unique challenges and tweaks would have tobe incorporated.
Moreover, the master material sheet would becomeleaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimizedas many details would still be relevant, within the old setof drawings from an earlier project. The money saved thuscould be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers.