In the Aludecor Chit Chat organized by Architecture + Design magazine on 23 March 2018 at Hilton Hotel in Mumbai, top architects spoke their hearts out on moving towards a sustainable habitat.
The eminent architects deliberated and laid emphasis on the sustainable building practices that can minimize impact on the environment and resources. Today traditional methods of planning urban landscapes are being ignored by the authorities in developing smart cities/smart habitat in the country. Renowned Architect Yatin Pandya spoke on the usage of renewable building materials for smart construction. Today’s structures put little emphasis on ventilation. Jaalis, which were earlier used for better ventilation can easily replace the glass. Similarly, open terraces can replace air-conditioners. He clearly laid emphasis on the extensive use of recycled materials, participatory development and emphasis on low income and social infrastructure. He illustrated the junction between design and the need for more sustainable building practices. As per him the building exemplifies the importance of social infrastructure in cities as one crucial part of making cities livable, even in informal settlements and slum areas. One of Mr. Pandya’s astonishing achievements is using a whole range of recycled building materials in his creations, and many of those were displayed in his presentation which simply enthralled the audience. They were delighted to listen to this great Indian architectural innovator encouraged by the prospect of partnering with him to take an idea from design to development.
The guest speakers talked on the potential of architectural interventions to minimize the environmental impact of the built environment in our cities and reduce pressure on resources. Building construction, occupation and lifestyle pressures have come under the spotlight for its very strong linkage with energy use, resource depletion, natural habitat destruction and climate impacts. At the same time, there is the larger challenge of meeting comfort and livability expectations in poor peoples’ homes and settlements.
India is already the world’s third-largest centre for the construction sector. But these newly constructed towns/buildings are sprouting without clear green benchmarks or master plans with sustainability norms and implementation strategies. The construction boom has triggered environmental concerns: where and how buildings are built and used, decides their damaging impacts on the environment. The lifestyle of the building occupier, the aspired comfort level, architecture and location, and the material used for construction exert impacts on energy, water, land, biodiversity, air, waste, and traffic.
Though it is not easy to quantify the environmental impacts of the sector comprehensively but limited studies have shown that in India, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the energy use, 30 percent of the raw material use, 20 percent of water use, and 20 percent of land use. At the same time, they cause 40 per cent of the carbon emissions, 30 per cent of solid waste generation, and 20 per cent of water effluents. The regulatory challenge is to set the terms of building construction and design as well as urban design and building operations, to prevent a lock-in of high resource intensity. Setting the green terms for construction and operations of buildings is a very new area of governance in India.
India has a great architectural tradition that has integrated sustainability principles, understood the wisdom of optimizing the use of sun and daylight, wind and natural ventilation, space design and a range of architectural features for improving thermal comfort according to the local climate. Buildings in all ecosystems reflect diverse approaches that have lent identity to the traditional building stocks. This is changing dramatically now as modern technologies allow powerful interventions to mechanically alter and control thermal conditions in buildings, isolated from the local climatic advantages. This is making new building stock more energy and resource-intensive.
We have begun setting the ‘green’ terms for construction and operation of buildings in India, but it remains a relatively new area of governance. India needs appropriate regulations to benchmark energy and water use, minimize waste, and develop monitoring and compliance strategies.