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Swedish Embassy harnesses nature

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Sweden is considered the most sustainable country in the World and following its environment policy objectives, the country has taken initiatives to make its Embassy in New Delhi a Green building.

The Embassy has designed milestone targets to set out the changes in society, needed to meet environmental quality objectives and generational goals. During 2013-2016, Sweden will allocate approximately SEK 22 billion to environmental measures.

The Embassy complex in New Delhi is situated in Chankyapuri locality. The area which houses several embassies and diplomatic missions has witnessed a fall of almost 10m in the water table in the last 10 years and is an over exploited area according to the 2009 report of the Central Groundwater Board. Borewells installed by the Embassy used to run dry every year during peak summer months. Water for the sprawling lawns spread over 29,000sqmt had to be supplied water by tankers. The Embassy spent approximately 15-20 lakh annually on private and government water supply.

Total area of the campus is 39,960sqmt. The Embassy constructed the rainwater harvesting in four phases between 2010 and 2013 at a total cost of approximately Rs. 9 lakh. The first phase was completed in April 2010. The rainwater is tapped at strategic points in the stormwater drain and put back into the ground through four recharge wells. Earlier the runoff from premises used to drain out into the city drains but now every drop of rain that falls on Embassy’s premises is recharged back into the ground. The Embassy began harvesting rainwater in 2010 and harvests 10.5 million liters of rainwater annually. Today, municipal water supply is used for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, while borewell water is utilized for gardening and flushing.

The embassy also has a set of solar panels installed in the premises which generates 10 percent of the total consumption of electricity by the embassy. A plan set in motion by the National Property Board of Sweden in 2010 has culminated into solar panels covering 600sqm of roofs. An air treatment filter in the office ventilation system was introduced in 2013. It removes 90% of PM1, which is small enough to pass through the lungs into the body, as well as 97% of PM10 and PM2.5. Waste is segregated into paper, compost and unburnable and disposed off as per city laws and compost is recycled as fertilizer. The Embassy of Sweden has been so successful in its sustainability initiatives that it received the Green Embassy Award in 2012.

The Embassy plans to continue with the renovations and present it as an example, that it is possible to be self-sufficient. They would like to be ahead of the curve, exploring and innovating with new methods of self-sufficiency and alternative energy.

Why is water management important?

Rain and groundwater is an important resource worldwide and therefore it is important to capture, store and recharge rainwater. According to Census 2011 data, Delhi uses about 500, 000 tube wells and hand pumps for drinking water. Authorized use of the tube wells and bore wells with metering can offer an opportunity for increased water management in cities, resulting in less polluted rivers. Also, legal protection for city lakes, catchment and drainage systems will improve city level recharge structures. The solutions and possibilities include:

• Rainwater harvesting – tanks, ponds, rooftop rain harvesting

• Upgrading of local water aquifers

• Water use management

• Water efficiency management

• Develop reuse and recycling of all waste water

The water New Delhi region can harvest from the rain

Average annual rainfall = 755mm

Area of New Delhi city = 1484sqkm

The volume of rainwater that can be harvested from the city is approximately 56 billion cubic meters of water. This is approximately 63 times more than the volume of groundwater extracted annually.

“For Sweden, environment, climate change and water are important priorities. With the completion of the Rain Water Harvesting System, Solar Paneling and Waste Management in place, the Embassy is taking all steps towards going green. The Embassy is also contributing to India’s efforts in raising the depleting ground water levels. We of course follow policy, but we also walk the talk”

– Harald Sandberg

Ambassador of Sweden to India

 

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