Habits and habitats
Recycling every construction material even after demolition would be a great idea, but are we ready for it?
Habitat is a deep word that means how every form lives in a given locality and environment, where human habitation in a typical settlement. During the formative years, we would have observed nature, connected with the context and lived in simple structures which by default are eco-friendly.
With passage of time, patterns of living would have evolved by varied factors. Though nature friendly buildings are mostly simple buildings, we would have relegated nature and discarded simplicity. Our efforts towards sustainable lifestyle will be futile unless we realise how we live.
Our habit of habit forming dilutes living with nature: How often do we observe our daily life – the objects, comforts, services and relations we live with? For most of us, it’s rare, with pressures and pleasures of managing life taking precedence over thinking about life. Despite spirituality having proven the need to think about living, very few indulge in it; so people thinking about ecology could be minuscule. Humans are habit forming animals, so habits shape our lifestyle, which need to be replaced by thinking about nature and ecology.
Materials that waste the least are among the best materials: One of the simplest eco-sutras could be to look for construction materials that waste the least. Many appear efficient, but they ravage nature during their production; furniture making leads to wasted plywood, upholstery and foams; leftover paints, glass or tiles are common in construction sites. The leftovers are not merely wasted materials, but also wasted money and wasted resources. As an extended idea, if every construction material can be recycled even after demolitions, that is a great idea.
Do not buy something because it is available and affordable: Most project costs shoot up and material selection becomes non-judicious because we can afford to buy a product even if it is not necessary. Increasing options in the market has not necessarily made us more happy or effective; but equally led to confusions and complexities.
B alance between capital and operational costs: A closer look at projects shows overemphasising the initial construction costs, ignoring the maintenance cost and sometimes even operation costs. Somehow gather the funds required to start the project – we are on with it, which is incorrect. More energy and resources get consumed across the life span of the building than upfront; hence sustainable strategies have to focus at the complete life cycle.
I ndividually we are building more than collectively what we need: Assessing the actual constructed area needs of a city may be difficult, and even if we do that, the fact could be that some have more than the average need, while majority have less in this unequal society. Many built-up areas are used for part of the day, month or the year, left unused during other times. On any given night, the total number of unoccupied bedrooms in all the houses together may equal half the hotel rooms. We may have no solution to this predicament, but it’s time to think, are we building too much.