Building new approaches

Construction activities such as buildings, roads and infrastructure contribute to around one-third of the global greenhouse gas emissions

Green buildings are much discussed in the media today. The factors that make up all this green is an impossible gather of ideas, owing to the magnitude of the subject. More so, ‘going green’ is area-specific too, making one rule a misfit elsewhere. Therefore, local wisdom too would be a vital factor to be considered in the green principle guide.

Plan-designs or materials, the multiplicity of choices can overwhelm one into hurriedly choosing some wrong ideas. Just what is it that commoners need to know for bringing in worthy ideas for having a socially conscious, responsible building? This basic sense is what the new column ‘Green Sense’ in PropertyPlus is trying to attempt, while making one understand simple principles that go a long way in adhering to sustainable practices.

Creation is such a wonderful word. All of us believe we are creative; we can create corporate wealth, an iconic building or a signature wall mural. Global economy, web world, climate change and hungry society are also our creation. During these self-congratulations, the only thing we tend to forget is that we too have been created; as such, we owe something to our creator — Mother Nature.

We human beings are not greater than the earth to say, “Let us save the earth.” Instead, if at all there is a saviour for us, it is the earth itself, which we are destroying. Construction activities such as buildings and roads contribute to around one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, becoming the single largest cause for climate change. However, buildings are inevitable for our shelter, security, activity and image. Even the smallest act of construction consumes resources and damages nature; hence no construction can be certified as good for earth. If so, why do we hear so many words and terms referring to alternative building ideas, which claim to save the earth?

Damage reduction

“Alternative” is a loose term to sum up all that architects, engineers and builders intend to do towards reducing the damage we create by building. As we now know, we can only minimise these damages, not totally eliminate them. Hence, when we say eco-friendly, it expresses our concern for nature, reducing the negative effects of our acts.

Most of us regard architect Laurie Baker as the father of cost-effective construction in India, which is also being sensitive to resources, hence eco-friendly. ‘Green building’ is among the new words buzzing around us, promoted by American companies, attempting to reduce cost, consumption and embodied energy by large buildings which are high-end energy guzzlers. The rating system called LEED has also been accordingly promoted. Our own Indian standard called GRIHA is also available now to evaluate a construction.

To apply the quote by Gandhiji, if only we can build just for our need, and not for our greed, also build for our living and not for our luxuries, then the earth might not have suffered so much. To this end, already many ideas have been tried, efforts have been spared and new architecture has been suggested. Let us share them between us and save us all.

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Posted on May 1, 2010, in fundamentals. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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