The best way to go green could be to look back how we built and lived in the past.
Do you wish to build a green building without getting into all the jargons and options? You have no time to study the alternatives and their implications? No problems – simply resolve that the building will be built without using any mode of power generated by humans i.e. diesel engine, solar panels or electric power.
Wish to go one step further, add another resolution to use only such building materials that have been made without consuming power. And to go to the last step, resolve to live there without any of the above sources of power.
The proposal appears too simple to believe, yet sounds profound at the same time. Anyone familiar with the construction sector may feel powerless at this very proposition, asking how anything can be built without using power at any stage. After all, in cities, among the first things to be done at sites is to get a temporary power connection, along with the workers’ shed and water sump.
Village houses can teach us, though partly, how we need not feel helpless at the suggestion of no electric supply. The boulder pack foundation can be done without size stones, with plinth concrete placed by hand mixing. Lintels can be in stone or wood, but if RCC is preferred, the reinforcement rods can be cut manually. Load bearing walls completely in mud would make it better from green perspectives, yet bricks and cement can be used as well.
Ideally, the roof could be made with wooden rafters with tiles on top, to be close to nature. Even the RCC flat roofs can be managed well by hand cutting, mixing and pouring. It is possible to place reinforcement rods and the electric conduits without any dependency on electricity. The tradition of keeping the civil works wet by manual curing can be continued, though carrying water to greater heights can be cumbersome.
Doors and windows continue to be made with hand tools, while the guard bars can be cut and inserted instead of being welded together. Generally, plastering, painting and polishing need no power. Grooves to place electric pipes can be cut into the wall manually. Though precision cutting is preferred to fix plumbing pipes and fixtures, one can manage it manually also using hand-held blades. The major area of concern can be in flooring and tiling, where machine cutting and polishing has to be eliminated. Local natural materials or hand finished floor finish may have to be the choice.
The idea of enumerating all this is not to stop using power at site, but to remind ourselves how we used to build without power for thousands of years. Today, electricity is available, hence we use it recklessly. The best way to go green could be to look back how we built and lived in the past.