Conventional or alternative?

With 80 essays under this column, thoughts linger if writing about eco-friendly ideas has sent the wrong message that we need to discard conventional systems.

While discussing eco-friendly and green ideas, there is a trap. We may seek innovative ideas for a new house, not realising that the house we live in is already at its effective best.

The alternative ideas always get greater attention compared to the familiar, which is fair in a society where the routine and known are not reported, filmed, featured or published. However, what is not fair is the attempt to project the familiar and common methods of construction as villains of the green movement.

With 80 essays under ‘Green Sense,’ this thought lingered if writing about eco-friendly ideas has sent a wrong message that we need to discard conventional systems.

Three different comments

This rather long introduction became necessary, following three comments by three different architect friends.

* The first comment wondered why the conventional practice, evolved over a century, gets criticised by innovative ideas that are not even a decade old.

* The second comment was, if these alternative ideas can so drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a sustainable future, why are they not becoming the mainstream approach.

* The last comment shared an experience that despite all the goodness of the eco-friendly ideas, the cheapest, fastest and easiest construction methods are present-day conventional approaches such as plastered brick walls, flat RCC roofs and painted walls.


Design ideas commonly followed today evolved as a preferred option at one time, hence have their own justification. Majority of them belong to mainstream construction practices, enjoying huge popularity and acceptance.

Incidentally, when introduced first, cement, steel, glass, paint, air conditioning and such others were touted as great discoveries, which of course they were, but today the same ideas get criticised as non-sustainable energy guzzlers.

As such, we need to realise that any kind of classification and de-meaning the other leads to nowhere. Every option available is a matter of fact, where the fact to be considered could be cost, culture, climate or construction feasibility.

Following the routine

The alternative ideas do not attempt to compete with the mainstream, hoping to dislodge them some day. Incidentally, most people find following the routine as the easiest and most comfortable, hence the conventional practice will always be the market leader.

What could be called as the alternative offers more choices to people, so that the construction industry could get more judicious. In case the alternative idea of today becomes popular tomorrow, it will then be called as a conventional idea!

In the final analysis, words such as mainstream, alternative, conventional, and sustainable do not mean much to people, who like to have a big basket of design ideas to pick from. At the given time of deciding, whatever appeals to them as the most user-friendly gets built. If people are more exposed to design implications and material effects, one may hope that their choices could be both user-friendly and eco-friendly. Green Sense aims at such a considered decision making.


Posted on November 12, 2011, in designs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: