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'Designing Sustainable Buildings and the Need for Green Architecture'

Saturday, September 01, 2018

By Amin Nayyar, Founder and CEO of ANA Design

Every year in winter, my kids stop playing, a couple of elderly neighbor’s are hospitalized and a pall of smog disrupts flights. The winter fog and chill doesn’t make for a merry Christmas anymore and we ourselves are to blame.

The frenzy of “development” we have seen in the past few years coupled with a car driven commute has given us the dubious distinction of living in one of the most polluted countries in the world.

The concept of sustainability, quite literally, is now about the very sustainability of human life as we know it. A mix of technology, optimization and lifestyle will define the new and hopefully healthy future for our population. Apart from an environment friendly master plan, which cuts down on commute, and encourages sustainable neighborhoods, the engineering and design aspects of each building and its components is critical to a healthy living.

Our buildings must respond to the climate, given the extremely tiny lots that we have for house design; insulation and air tightness are key concepts that need to be stressed. Usage of air-conditioning, and thereby of electricity, can drop up-to 20% simply by ensuring tight fitting doors and windows. A well-insulated roof and high performance glass can further reduce electricity consumption by another 15%.

The material we use, especially, processed ply woods, paints and fabrics may also contribute to extreme indoor pollutants, and also, carcinogens. Ensuring low or zero VOC in paints and plywood not only improve indoor air quality, but also ensure a more sustainable way of timber and material procurement and compliance to environmental best practices.

Technology is now available that can easily interconnect various home appliances such as air conditioners, lighting etc. through a smartphone interface. By having the building assessed for energy usage, and automating the process of lighting and comfort conditioning, massive amounts of energy can be saved over the lifecycle of a building. Using BIM as a full building lifecycle tool allows us today, to predict the most optimum material utilization, bring down cost and latent energy, and allow for a healthier, better lit and more optimized building.

The introduction of BMS in the building design can help track and optimize the utilization of water and electricity, as well as help optimize and manage the waste being generated. Technology is available where all the wastewater being generated, i.e. kitchens and toilets can be treated and re-used for flushing and gardening.
This reduces the extraction of ground water as well as the energy and water demand from water reservoirs and supply systems. In fact, with improved water proofing, the idea of roof top kitchen gardens should be mandated to provide fresh and organic vegetables, fruit, and even honey.

Landscape design is an important factor in making a place “liveable” by specifying local plants suited to a particular climate, and requiring lesser maintenance and upkeep, it is possible to reclaim some of the lost green cover.

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