It’s practical, not idealistic
Today, in the urban construction industry, mainly in the large commercial and residential projects, everyone is talking green; claiming green; promoting green; and the future appears to be the place we all can be proud of. The generations to come are all safeguarded, or we tend to think so. Even in the smaller scale projects dealing with houses, resorts and schools, we claim to be designing sustainable buildings, as if, if all the new buildings are built this way, the earth can retain its ecological balance. But should we hype these new green ideas and feel romantic about being eco-friendly?
With the carbon dioxide count crossing the tipping point of 400 parts per million, we have already crossed the limits. Only a blanket ban on construction activities may help us, which we know is impractical to impose across the globe.
As such, every concern and every action towards reducing carbon consumption is definitely welcome and laudable. But to turn our actions into a fashion statement to be talked about in public is a dangerous trend, for we know fashions change rather too fast. Today’s hype can turn into tomorrow’s ignorance. Positioning the efforts towards energy efficient designs on a flimsy trend, hoping to gain increased market share thereby can defeat the purpose in the long run.
Let us realise and honestly admit that what we are talking about are simply the alternatives and not yet about the saviours. We still do not know what approach would and what materials could ensure a zero carbon construction industry. The much hyped net zero energy buildings are not yet our saviours because they still use solar panels coming with high carbon footprint, batteries with disposal problems and as a building may have high embodied energy. Of course they are among the major steps we have taken towards sustainable building, but cannot be the reason to feel complacent and start celebrating.
About a decade ago, where was all this talk about green or the energy leadership? What if in the next decade all this concern vanishes? Of course there have been individuals and institutions doing eco-friendly buildings in the past and they will continue doing so into the future irrespective of the trends, but their impacts will be minuscule in future as the lurking danger of climate change gets even more powerful. We need every human being to be aware of the implications of his/her individual actions.
Any attempt trying to package eco-friendly designs as a romantic idea to talk around the town could be pretence for self-satisfaction or boost the ego by claiming a social position. Building with nature is not a mystic approach only a few consultants and builders are capable of, but it is something that every one can aim for. Only this pragmatic awareness can help in spreading the idea of eco-green and lead us into a safer future.