Constructing cost-effective green buildings

Green Buildings are designed using the integrated approach and it provides its users with an optimal level of comfort catering to local needs. Pankaj Kaushal writes about methods to construct cost-effective Green buildings.

Green building or green construction aim to reduce the environmental impact of building and they are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle which starts from design to construction to operation to maintenance to renovation to demolition.

The objective is that green buildings are to reduce the overall impact of the building on built environment, on human health and on the natural environment. This optimizes demand for the electricity, water and other natural recourses by generating its electricity on site through renewable means. It has to follow sustainable process of meet water demands like rain and water harvesting. The building should recycle and reuses all its waste on site which cause minimum burden to the environment. In other words, striving to generate and utilize on-site resources to construct and operate the building and then ensuring that all the waste material is managed on-site itself, thereby leaving nothing (if possible) to be put into the municipal systems.

Indian context, green building movement: Till now over 1.40 Billion sq ft building projects are registered with the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Around 362 Green Building projects are certified and functional in India. Green Buildings are designed using the integrated approach (mentioned in NBC, Part 0). It provides its users with an optimal level of comfort catering to local needs (as NBC-Part 8). A green building consumes minimum energy and water. The waste generated by the building is processed locally during its construction, operation and demolition and waste is minimum.

Green buildings may cost a little more to design and construct, it is more economical to operate Green buildings. In addition to the immense environmental benefits that these buildings have, they are also a better place for occupants to live and work in. Across the globe, the areas valued highest for Real Estate sale or purchase, are the greenest parts of a city. These offer the best quality of life in terms of clean air, cooler climates, ample ground water, rich flora and fauna, natural lighting, ample wind-flow, recreation areas for children and adults, etc. With the unrestricted use of glass facades and extensive air-conditioned spaces, today we design buildings that work towards isolating the internal from the external environment, thereby resulting in very high energy consumption. It is imperative we alter that trend to minimize the detrimental impact on the environment and to create a new future for our children, our towns, cities and our country. Green Building reduces energy consumption without sacrificing the comfort levels. Destruction of natural areas, habitats and biodiversity are also saved. From Water consumption to pollution loads it benefits to the owner’s users or society as whole.

Designing cost effective green buildings
We can easily design a cheaper green building by integrating resource-efficient features into a building’s design from the pre-design stage itself, and by ensuring that the architects, engineers and contractors follow established environmental principles addressing local needs. Designing a green building is easy and fun and may cost lesser than a conventional building in the longer run.

The following steps to be considered to achieve the desired results:
1. By adopting the integrated design approach such that the client, architect, engineers, and consultants design the building in a coordinated manner with a common goal – sustainability.
2. By following regional development plans (such as the UDPFI guidelines, master plans) and local building by-laws
3. By following India’s national codes and standards
4. By optimizing site conditions (trees, water bodies, windflow, orientation, etc.) and harnessing them to cater to the thermal / visual comfort requirements of the building
5. By adopting sound architectural practices and taking examples from India’s traditional architecture
6. By adopting locally available construction materials and giving impetus to local arts, crafts, architecture and artisans
7. By designing precisely-sized energy systems and not basing them on broad thumb-rules
8. By reducing the resource consumption of the building and its inhabitants so that the waste generating there-from is reduced
9. By adopting energy efficient technologies (EETs) and equipment
10. By adopting renewable energy technology (RETs) applications to reduce the demand on conventional energy.

(The author is Vice President – Architecture at REPL. He has done his Architecture from School of Planning & Architecture in 2000. He has total 13 years of work experience with some renowned organization like, Unitech Limited, Arcop Associates. He is having specialization in Housing & Commercial development. He is also a certified Green Building evaluator By IGBC.)

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