For A Greener Tomorrow - A Chat with Ar. Premnath

Interviews with Thought Leaders Dated:  May 5, 2017
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Architect Premnath

One should not “sell” sustainability – it is bound to be a presold concept to anyone who wants to live a healthy life within that building and wants to save a bit of natural resource for their future generations, says veteran architect and interior designer Prem Nath. Winner of many national and international awards, including the HUDCO Design Award 2015 for Green Architecture, Nath, Founder and CEO Prem Nath and Associates, a complete design organisation, speaks on how green architecture has always been part of his work and design philosophy.

How do you feel sustainability is progressing in the Indian market and among professionals?

Whatever you call it ‘sustainability’ or ‘green architecture’ or ‘green rating’ or any other name – today, all this is a fad – if you honestly ask yourself, sustainability was a way of living in our ancient culture too. Pick up any historical design and you would find them most sustainable – it’s just that we had got deviated from these facts, we had got influenced from the so called ‘modern’ designs and had started designing energy guzzlers and eco-dampening structures – I have always been designing sustainable structures.

Are there any key selling points on sustainability that you use with your clients?

Today, one doesn’t need to sell sustainability to any client, the know-how and the global awareness has enabled most of the clients to be aware and be self-inclined to develop a green project. The bottom line for any sustainable project venture that Prem Nath and Associates undertake is based on the triple bottom line (TBL) which consists of 3 P’s – People, Planet and Profit. This aims to assess the financial, social and environmental performance of the project over a period of time.

Where do you think the green movement is going?

The green movement is going the right way, and shall pick it’s pace soon, with a lot of innovation being brought in and a lot of “Glocal” techniques (global technique being evolved for local use) being developed. While most design principles remain basic to it’s root, the ever evolving technology and systems enable one to add the extra edge to what is already being designed as green architecture; to give you an example solar glass – which speaks of glass embedded with photovoltaic cells, thus enabling the façade to generate solar power, is one such evolution from the regular glazed façade.

Who do you feel is driving the sustainable movement in the built environment? Is it the designers, the clients, the government?

While I would love to say it is a collaborative effort – the fact is, in most private developments, it is the financial balance and the green norm requirement which drives the project towards an optimum green factor; while the public sector / government projects are fortunately following a mandate to ensure the projects are “green” rated. In both cases, however, an architect is always instrumental to ensure that the best of green is inculcated.

Which of your projects (residential or commercial) do you consider as sustainable high performance design?


HMEL TownshipHMEL Residentila Township, Bhatinda Design by Prem Nath & Associates

Amongst many, two of my projects have performed exemplarily well – thanks to a very supporting clientele – the first one being Cygnus World School at Vadodara for Jan-Priya Trust Delhi, which is our country’s first Platinum rated, green building, (that too non-air-conditioned) having more than 1.8 lakh square feet of school complex spread over 7.5 acres of land; and the second one being HMEL Residential Township for HP-Mittal Energy Ltd. at Bathinda. This was awarded Gold grading by the MoEF and is the winner of HUDCO Design Award for Green Architecture 2015 – this itself is the testimony of the township’s green excellence.

What would be your choice of sustainable projects in the world?

I consider the Biosciences Research Building in Galway, Ireland designed by Payette and Reddy Architecture and Urbanism Firm as an exemplary sustainable project. This project takes into fact the existing climate conditions of Ireland and takes into account natural ventilation as the USP of the building design. Natural ventilation is the primary factor that provides air conditioning to the building for more than 75 per cent of the year. Due to this, 45 per cent of this building can function without mechanical ventilation.

What is the need to move the mainstream toward sustainable buildings?

“What is the need?” - look around you, see where the world is going – see how much the “Mother Earth” has suffered and is suffering – the melting glaciers, the lost green covers, ever deteriorating quality of life, ever reducing natural resources, are just a few large scale examples of “what is the need?” – if the mainstream doesn’t shift its focus towards sustainability today, there might not be any so called, ‘mainstream’ tomorrow!

This interview is part of the Vol.1, Issue1 of the Berger A 'n' D Konnect Quarterly Newsletter in association with ZingyHomes. To read other articles of the Newsletter, click here. You can also subscribe to a print copy of forthcoming issues.

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