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Why Go Green?

Saturday, September 01, 2018

By Sachin Goregaoker
Director, GA design

Construction forms a major part of a city and therefore it impacts upon the environment in various ways. Green and Sustainable are the buzzwords in the building and construction industry today. In order to move towards ecologically sustainable and green buildings, we must first understand how a building can affect the environment.

Construction activity can cause significant change to the surface of land during excavation by polluting the surroundings with dust and noise. The tools and resources used by labourers and even the diesel used by excavators and trucks can harm the environment. Moreover, according to research, building materials like aluminium, steel and concrete emit large quantities of CO2 which clearly is a harmful element.  Chemicals used during construction can be harmful to the labourers as well as surrounding environment, if not handled correctly. Waste-water and the release of oils and compounds during construction if discharged safely and correctly can limit the negative impact on the surroundings.

Architects, builders and building owners have to seek a balance between conflicting considerations such as aesthetics, comfort, timelines, effective construction, regional building guidelines, costs and profits. Environmental impact is an added challenge and it should be considered in the initial design process to limit additional costs and resources. Fortunately for us, the incredible technological advancement in this century has made it possible for us to move towards sustainable architecture and healthy living. The IGBC (Indian Green Building Council) and other such bodies carry out various architectural design and technical analyses and a report is generated which incorporates the intent, methodology and outcome of green buildings. A points-based rating is given to the building on the basis of the documented report and this provides an incentive to builders and architects to ensure that their projects contribute to sustainable architecture.

Green buildings focus on energy consumption as it is the single largest way to negatively impact the environment. Energy consumption can be effectively reduced by improving insulation of a building to prevent heat dissipation, increasing ventilation to remove polluted air and installing solar equipment for heating purposes.

The use of sustainable recycled building materials is cost-effective as well as environment-friendly. Wood, stone, metal can be reclaimed from demolition sites and re-cycled and reused during new construction. Green materials like bamboo and cork can be incorporated in building interiors.

Waste management is another way of contributing to sustainable architecture. It not only includes effective waste disposal, but also on-site recycling of as many materials as possible. Waste disposal can be identified in paper, plastic, concrete and metal form, to be recycled and reused effectively.

Storm-water management can effectively reduce the negative impact of the building. It has to be considered during the design process of a project and incorporated during the initial stages of construction.

As a result of this awareness, architects, builders and the general public are now catching on to the importance of green buildings. The green building movement has gradually progressed from a focus on reducing water and energy usage, to a more holistic approach that understands how buildings affect the people residing in them, with a goal of making our environment and lifestyles healthier for people.

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