Down to earth
For some readers, the title ‘Down to Earth’ may sound very familiar. Congratulations, for you could be among the readers of the fortnightly magazine by that name published by the “Center for Science and Environment”.
The Center was started in 1980 by Anil Agarwal and the journal Down to Earth in 1992, to explore science and environmental issues, hoping to fill a gap in data, information, research and advocacy, which was then minimal. It is a matter of pride for India to have had a visionary like Anil, to launch a platform for ecological issues, much before the world woke up to the realities.
We have been discussing the fact that if individuals are a part of the ecological problems, they also need to be a part of the ecological solutions. However, the environmental problems today being projected at the global scale appear so humongous, most individuals tend to shrug off the possible effectiveness of their roles in reversing the damage and reduce climate change. Hence the need for collective and organisational set-ups, which can support the individual endeavours.
To this end, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) can claim a pioneering position, informing people about traditional ideas, living with natural resources, advocating public interests, suggesting governmental policies and such others.
It not only researches to collate data, but also creates awareness, publishes books, offers reports, provides training, releases the annual State of India’s Environment Report, shares knowledge, proposes sustainable solutions, and has strongly contested debates between development and sustainability or between resources and consumption.
Unfortunately for the construction industry, there is no single resource centre or publication for the sustainable alternative ideas, as such prospective owners and promoters collect the available data from varied sources in the limited time they can spare. Interestingly, this often includes conflicting information finally resulting in the owners playing safe, adopting the conventional methods.
Only in the high energy consuming, large public projects we find some attempt to reduce energy consumption, that too mainly focused at water and electricity. However, the quantum of construction for homes, schools, shops and small offices far outnumber the few buildings that may calculate their energy scores or seek green building ratings.
While the savings due to few well-designed buildings may appear impressive, their figures may slide into oblivion when we consider the fact that millions of buildings are being built in the conventional methods.
This is why we need more and more institutions to promote the alternative ideas in the construction field. And journals that not only focus on architectural design and building construction, but periodically cover ecologically related matters that would be a guide to anyone with green sense.