Deciphering Green Architecture

Sustainable Architecture Dated:  March 20, 2015
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The Design Consortium is a consortium of young Architects, Artists and Designers with a common motivation towards designing a modern environment in today’s changing patterns of life. The creative process includes extensive research and analysis, but most importantly it requires a continuous, interactive collaboration with the client. 
We as an organization are sensitive towards the spaces we design by thinking along and beyond the function of the building.

"We are passionate about making responsible decisions for the good of our clients, the environment and the future users of our spaces. We have a responsibility to look to the future and work with optimal resources. It is not just about 'Going Green' but also a conscious philosophy to work with challenges of resource optimization" 
- Nilanjan Bhowal, Principal Architect at Designs Consortium.

Green/ Sustainable construction is not as tough and mind boggling as it sounds. It's just using the eco-friendly alternatives for any element of the building; be it the walls or the finishes, the lighting fixtures to what you put on your roof. The organization has pioneered sustainable and energy-efficient design in residential architecture 
With the example of a few of our projects, we hope to give you a clearer picture of a green design.

Camp Forktail Creek

The Master Plan of  the CampThe Master Plan of the Camp

This is a project nestled on the outskirts of Jim Corbett National Park. An adventure camp; made on the concept of bringing together wilderness, adventure and recreation in a wild jungle setting. The planning of the camp site is in harmony with the natural trails within the wood that promotes greenery, flora and fauna.

The idea was to create a retreat in the wild, away from the hustle of the urban cities. The camp has three mud huts and six informal tent structures. 

Living Space   
The design is a blend of active and passive use of natural resources. Solar energy is harnessed actively through photovoltaic cells and used passively through strategies like green roofs, utilization of natural light and ventilation.

Dining Thatch Roof

The overall materials used were those that were locally available; i.e. bamboo, balli, sall wood, thatch, mud and stone. Locally available materials are preferred as they can be brought to site without added expenses of transport and hence reduce pollution. For this construction to be a success, we needed locally available artisans to help us with the resources and technologies of construction privy to this area.

Green Homes

The camps have been distributed over a loop to embrace the entire wild periphery with the ‘Machan’ (A high raised platform for bird viewing and is also a library) as the central focal point. 

Machan

The design was based on sustainable strategies of recyclable and local materials. The thatch roof was mostly re-used from a previous structure and salvaged wooden rafters were used to build a mezzanine. This level has been designed as a small library with an open deck for good visual contact with nature. The structure has been made with an absolute environmental friendly approach and local appropriate technology to retain the rustic flavour of the context and reduce site disturbance to minimum.

Related structures around were constructed from locally available stone and bamboo. Adobe construction for the utility buildings was to thermally insulate living and working spaces in this location and to further the ‘Green Camp’ concept. Some mud huts have been added to the camps, made entirely with in-situ mud walls and thatch, which doesn’t need any mechanical ventilation during summers. Mud, is a naturally cooling material, and is being used in India for a very long time. The only drawback, is the maintenance.

Green Camp

In a rustic camp, these solutions are feasible, but to implement green sustainable solutions in your home, the next project is a better example.

Green One
Located in C.R. Park, New Delhi, it is the first residential building in India to attain a 5 star rating by TERI-SVAGRIHA. TERI came up with the concept of SVAGRIHA, which lays down some rules and guidelines to build a green home in the city. Following is an explanation of how we achieved the required norms.

1. Landscape: Now in a city, especially like Delhi, the UHIE (urban heat island effect) (see image.) is very high. To reduce this, Svagriha suggests a minimum area that has to be either soft paved (i.e. by using grass pavers etc.) or green covered. Plants reduce the heat gained by a building, so elements such as a green roof and planters in a balcony help keep the environment cool.

Explaining the heat island effectFig: Explaining the heat island effect

Water bodies also solve this purpose and add aesthetic value. Use of reflective tiles on the roof, such as white coloured tiles and/or mosaic get the temperature down considerably. A terrace garden does wonders to the same.

terrace garden

2. Energy: The most important aim of a green building is to try and save as much energy as possible. Various small factors affect the amount of energy required by a building. For example: If  the envelope of the building (exterior walls and roofs) are insulated, the energy required to cool the interiors (through air conditioning and fans) reduces. Elements helping in this are:

  • AAC concrete blocks for the exterior. These building blocks insulate your interiors to a large extent, and is a certified green building material.
  • To provide maximum natural light, all rooms either face an open to sky court or are at the periphery.
  • These windows, are recessed from the facade and therefore receive less or no glare.
  • Electricity can be generated on your roof with the help of a few solar panels. 

green building

  • This electricity can be powering LED's or CFL's in your house. (LED is preferred as they save a lot more electricity).
  • All appliances used should have a 5 star rating, from refrigerators to air conditioners and water geysers.
  • Solar geysers can also be provided in cities that receive ample sunlight.

3. Waste and Water: A green building should try and have minimal impact on the environment. That means that all the waste it produces should not be dumped in the environment, and should be recycled and reused. a

  • All the waste water in Green One (except Black water- from the WC), is collected in a waste water tank and slowly pumped to a phytorid bed. This bed naturally aerates and cleans the water with the help of bacteria. This water can be reused for watering plants, flushing and other such purposes.

Rain water harvesting

  • Rain water harvesting technique helps collecting rain water, which can be reused, and excess is recharged back to the ground.
  • The bathroom and kitchen fixtures used are low water flow fixtures and therefore reduce wastage.
  • Solid Kitchen waste is collected in the composter. All biodegradable waste is put into this and is mixed with an accelerator which then turns into manure over a period of time.

4. Materials: Now the materials to be used have to be locally available. As explained earlier it reduces the cost by a lot.

  • If any demolition is done, then old material should be reused. Old bricks were used in the non crucial areas, such as the staircases. Old gypsum panels were used for the false ceiling. Even old door frames were used in construction.

Wall Interiors

  • MDF (Mild Density Fiber Board) was used to make furniture, as this reduces the number of trees cut to get wood.

Green Building Materials

  • Fly ash bricks were used for interior walls. They are made out of industrial waste and
  • Eco friendly paints were used with VOC.

Green Building

Our other green ventures include terraces of various houses, which have been converted/built green to suit the needs of the clients and more importantly, to serve the environment.

The terrace was designed on a Mediterranean theme to be used as a retreat from the daily hustle bustle of the city..

Liked this article? Click here to consult Nilanjan Bhowal for your project or design dilemma.

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