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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Builders are consciously going green in an effort to limit the carbon emissions coupled with a demand from a knowledgeable buyer. Monnanda Appaiah, Managing Director, Wienerberger India, takes a look at the various options to limit uncontrolled usage of natural resources and  innovative technology to produce eco-friendly buildings.

In this day and age, over half of the world’s population (55%) lives in urban areas, according to a 2018 UN report. By 2050, a staggering 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Even as policy makers, civil society and businesses struggle with the challenge of making cities functionally habitable, there is talk of building smart cities for the future. Governments world over have visions and strategies to create smart cities to ensure optimization of resources and adoption of self-sustaining energy consumption practices.

Contrary to the popular belief, a smart city is not limited to the usage of smart, connected devices and intelligent systems.

Use of green infrastructure and innovative technology to produce eco-friendly building materials is crucial for building smart cities. The construction industry comes into focus simply because, according to the UN Environment and International Energy Agency’s Global Status Report 2017, buildings and construction together make up for “39% of energy-related CO2 emissions.” Inefficient usage of energy in construction and buildings can have a great impact on our health and even indoor air quality.

Green solutions
The construction industry faces huge challenges in terms of depletion of natural resources, primarily water and sand. Uncontrolled extraction of sand can lead to degradation of natural habitats and also loss of many species. There is also the lingering threat of lowering of groundwater table and the resulting domino effect can be a terrible strain on the environment.

If one were to follow the conventional style of construction, building a wall of one sq. mt. involves usage of almost 350 litres of water; there has been research indicating an average of 27,000 litres of water is consumed for each square meter of built-up area in cities.

Use of innovative and simple solutions can drastically reduce water and sand consumption during construction. A dry fix system, one of the more popular sustainable solutions, for instance, is a quick-fix solution that acts as a super glue and does away with the need for use of wet mortar.

Clay bricks for green walls
Another popular sustainable building practice is to replace conventional bricks and facades with their clay counterparts. One of the best ways to minimize consumption of energy and lower CO2 emissions through buildings and construction is using clay for building construction. Clay is easy to recycle, has a higher life-span and is maintenance friendly. Clay bricks are generally made from de-silted clay procured from headwater tanks such that the distance between the factory and the site is usually under 400 km. Using building materials that are fashioned from sustainable raw materials procured locally, results in lower carbon footprints.

The idea of smart cities is still very limited in the consumer minds and it needs a much more holistic approach that includes building infrastructure. There can’t be a smart city without smart transport and connectivity but there can’t be one without smart infrastructure either. Smart infrastructure in the form of sustainable and energy-efficient roads, highways, public utility spaces and buildings is no luxury. It is a pre-requisite and needs to be adhered to strictly. Remember, while Green buildings promise energy efficiency which is the backbone of smart cities; they also ensure environmental sustainability, better indoor air quality, better moisture & temperature control, and a boost in productivity as well as the overall well-being of its residents. Green buildings form the foundation of the future smart cities and also of the envisioned green planet.

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