Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why build green ?

In simple words any new construction specially on a greenfield site (where there were no buildings before) has a negative impact on the environment (scroll down for why?). But the reality is that we need buildings and implementing green building practices help us in reducing the impact of the building activity on the environment.

How does building activity impact the environment:

  • Buildings consume large amounts of material and energy during construction and generate waste
  • Buildings continue to consume energy, water and other resources during their lifetime along with continualy generating waste (domestic waste, solid waste and water waste)
  • A building on a previously vacant greenfield site changes the land and its relationship to the surrounding environment:
    • buildings change the natural landscape of the site by reducing existing vegetation, changing natural topography, and water flow patterns
    • buildings create concrete barriers to absorbtion of water back into the earth thus increasing storm water runoff (leading to flooding of low-lying areas and additional burden on existing infrastructure) and fall in underground water table (due to reduced recharge)
    • Loss of natural landscape also results in the loss of habitat for animal and bird life
  • Materials used in a building have a direct correlation to the health of its residents

Most of the above reasons are fairly well understood in the building community then what are some of the reasons that green building practices are relatively inaccessible to the everyday builder? even when they are driven by common sense and reflected in many traditional construction practices. We have found that:

  • There is increasingly a lot of superficial jargon surrounding green buildings that needs to be shed
  • It may be easier to start from our backyard rather then wait for top-down government led infrastructure development and policy formulation
  • There are available green certification processes than can offer a system of checks and balances but sadly the industry is disillusioned about them or find them too tedious and expensive
  • Project planning is the key to success. It is vital that at all stages of design and construction; the builder makes choices that minimize the impact on the land, reduces use of energy, optimizes use of water resources, prioritizes reuse and recycling instead of use of virgin materials and reduces waste.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Celebrating "The Pavilion" in residential architecture

The Pavilion at Nivim Goa
We designed a pavilion at Nivim Goa. It is an expanded pool and garden pavilion wrapped in wood screen and glass doors. It is nestled among existing mature trees and floats over the pool deck in the front elevation. We love this special addition to Nivim.

Interestingly, we recently came across a house in Chile with a pavilion set among the breathtaking landscape of Andean mountains. The pavilion has a wrap around patio with a pool. There are many parallels in design concept and look and feel of this pavilion with ours at Nivim. We thought it will be fun to share the project here. See the photos below. All photos and content courtesy Archdaily.

House on the road to Farellones, Courtsey Archdaily

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Great Resource for Green Buildings in India

Down to Earth is without question, the leading science and environment magazine in India. The magazine takes leadership in addressing issues and concerns related to environmental issues. It is one of the few magazines that has laboriously researched articles where the editors try their best to not take sides and put forward the facts.

Down to Earth has been leading the way in sound publishing regarding green buildings as well. They have recently compiled all their articles and resources on green buildings in one portal.

Screenshot of Down to Earth magazine resource page on green buildings, link.
Our favorite section is the one called '6 Cardinal Directions for Better Buildings', namely:
1. Thermal Comfort
2. Ventilation
3. Light
4. Water & Energy
5. Building Materials
6. Safety & Design

While, architects, builders and institutions debate the relevance of green buildings, the need for certification and Griha vs. LEED; here is Down to Earth saying that green buildings in not a new science but simply a building built with common sense while being cognizant of the above 6 factors and their impact to the quality of any/ all buildings. We absolutely agree with that.

Here are a few other gems from the magazine that we love:

- Architects love brick as a building material, it is low-cost, easily available and has the natural earthy aesthetic quality. These factors often make 'brick' come across as a green material. But here is an article that challenges that notion with facts on energy use during the traditional brick making process as well as loss of cultivable soil impacting agriculture and lastly the pollution from the kilns.

Link to Infographic at Down to Earth
- This is a link to a great infographic that lays out the 22-step process required to obtain permits for any building project. This may make you laugh-out-loud but is so very true. Link to related article.

Link to 'Dampness' Infographic on Down to Earth 
- A great article on Dampness with yet another winning infographic.

We love you 'Down to Earth'. Thank you !


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