Anil Banchor explains that the main distinction of green buildings vis-à-vis normal buildings is in the approach to its design, which focuses on a concern for extending the life span of natural resources; reducing operating costs such as for use of energy and water; providing human comfort, safety and productivity.
India ranks second as the country with the largest number of green buildings after US. Most of the Indian projects have demonstrated through their simplicity that green buildings and sustainable construction are not complex or high-tech ventures. In particular the retrofitting of old buildings demonstrates that it is an easy procedure which can be replicated with ease to transform scores of old buildings in the country’s cities and towns.
The difference in a green building is in the approach to its design, which focuses on a concern for extending the life span of natural resources; reducing operating costs such as for use of energy and water; providing human comfort, safety and productivity. Other typical features would include the use of non-toxic, recycled and environmental friendly building materials.
Analysts estimate the differential cost to be no more than 3-5 per cent. If you factor in savings of 25-30 per cent in the water and electricity consumption bill in an average green building in India, the additional expense is not just recovered within five years but such buildings can be profitable.
In spite of these facts most green buildings in India are non-residential commercial structures concentrated in a few of the big cities and the common man still sees such homes as a luxury. Therefore it is necessary to demystify the concept of Green and Sustainable Housing.
There are several ‘smart’ green building materials which are cost effective and long lasting available for the modern home owner which would help them build or rebuild their homes, as a more eco-friendly and sustainable habitat. Traditional construction materials now have greener and smarter substitutes such as:
Replace natural sand with finely powdered crystalline silica made from rejected limestone. It helps in replacing natural sand usage in concrete and plastics. It also ensures a comparatively denser concrete than those made only with natural sand and quarry fines resulting in a significant increase in compressive strength and durability. Using this alternative also aides in preserving natural reserves and protecting the environment.
Replace clay bricks with a more eco-friendly, technically superior, fly ash based composition. They are superior in quality than any other bricks available in the market in terms of strength, water absorption, efflorescence and various other parameters. Apart from the quality and mechanical properties, fly-ash based bricks are energy and resource efficient bricks produced using cleaner production techniques and reduces carbon footprints.
The third important component is concrete, the versatility of which is yet to be properly explored. It can be customized to serve several purposes. Some of these are:
Let Concrete weather-proof your house: A mix of concrete which makes use of Portland Cement to a higher extent with cement materials without replacing any other important properties has a higher durability compared to OPC against external weathering loses. This special composition increases the concrete’s resistance to sulphates, reduces chloride-ion penetration, and improves resistance to aggressive environments.
Concrete can now be used to beautify: Concrete need not always be mundane it can be printed or stamped for making decorative surfaces on porch, paving, footpath and walkways. Whether, the driveway to a garage or a poolside private access path, this product can help add a new colour to a mundane surrounding. Complex patterns for a decorative patio or a naturally blending pathway in a garden. Not only is it durable and impact resistant it is also weather-proof, making it easy and cheap to maintain.
Concrete can self-drain water: High performance concrete is available which is porous within its body to permit water drainage to lower surface, thus improving ground water table. The benefits of using this cement are – it allows drainage of water, the large pores present in the no-fines concrete allow easy drainage in to ground under appropriate conditions. It helps keep the area dry and clean and prevents warm and polluted water from entering our streams. It enables more efficient land developments, by making it possible for integrated land utilization for water retention and drainage with more active use.
Concrete can reduce your electricity bills: Concrete is now designed to provide thermal comfort in the premises. A layer of customized concrete can be applied over the top layer of the roof slab, so that the heat or cold is not directly allowed inside the building. This kind of arrangement keeps the building cool in summer and warm in winters. The trapped insulation in the concrete layer provides a bed for energy control in the cement. Energy consumption is reduced to great extent due to this mechanism. The advantage of using such a kind of concrete is it reduces the power consumption. Additionally it helps saving the non-renewable resources. Its durable, and the benefits lasts a long time and it is usually a one time work.
(The author is Chief Executive – ACC Concrete Business.)