From Solar Energy to rainwater harvesting, and every other bounty that nature has to offer. This family lives in harmony with nature in every respect.
James Chacko, the Regional Technical Manager of GE Power & Water in Dubai, is no stranger to the concept of energy efficiency. His new home ‘Susthiram’ at Angamali lives up to its name.
Breathtakingly beautiful and at the same time it is an ideal example of a sustainable abode. All the credit for this unique combination must go to the architect, M M Jose.
The house runs completely on solar energy, which is often generated in excess. Every drop of rainwater is harvested and reused for various purposes in and around the house.
Sunny for a cause!
The total energy that could be generated is 7000VA but only about 5000VA is required and hence the solar panels are set accordingly. These solar panels have been erected on the terrace and it resembles a trusse roof from the exterior. A battery bank storage of 7500KVA is used to store the power. LED lights are used throughout the house. About 26KW of power is used per day. The panels set up work based on this usage. The total cost of the solar power system came to around Rs.9 lakhs.
For the rooms on the ground floor and for all the common areas there is a big chiller. The working of this is in 4 stages. The temperature can be controlled according to the electricity load. The AC in the house works on solar power and so does all the fans. The second and third compressor works on solar power as well. When the overall load is high, the fourth compressor automatically switches to the KSEB connection. The hot air that is expelled out from these four compressors is used to dry clothes and nutmeg fruits.
James is a man of the future and so keeping in mind the evident entry of electric cars, there are provisions for charging the car as well.
To accept KSEB power when the need arises and in exchange passing on the excess power that they get from solar energy to KSEB looks good on paper. But to make this agreement a reality, it is indeed a struggle. As James and his family do not reside in the house, the power generated via solar panels is often in excess. Unfortunately KSEB is not ready to pay for this power exchange.
The boon called rain!
The most interesting feature of this 3000 sq. ft. house set on a 50 cent plot is the rainwater harvesting mechanism. The house is built over this and all the rain that falls on the roof goes straight to the harvesting system. The rain guards ensure that this leaves are filtered away. A cyclonic separator filters even the minutest dirt particles and this purified water is then harvested. This cyclonic separator was purchased from a company based in Mumbai.
Special food grade Epoxy paint has been used on the rainwater harvesting tank and so there is no direct contact for the water with cement. The food grade quality takes care of the health aspect. James says that this paint is extremely long lasting. There are two tanks in the house. Water from the well comes to one of the tanks and this is used for cooking purposes. This is quite a large tank with a capacity of 10,000 liters. When there is a need, the tank could also collect the harvested rainwater. The tank used for the harvested water has a capacity of 1 lakh liters and this water is used for watering the lansdscape gardens and the nutmeg field around the house. This water goes into the automatic sprinklers that have been set up all over the plantation.
There is even another overhead tank with a capacity of 7000 liters to collect the harvested rainwater. This water is used for laundry purposes. The water pumping and the sprinkler system also work with the help of solar energy.
The entire rainwater harvesting set-up cost them Rs.18 Lakhs. As this doubles up as a foundation for the house, the expenses for building a foundation could be reduced from this amount.
The family is of the opinion that, when nature provides them everything in its purest form, all the waste that has been generated should be eco-friendly. They use biodegradable detergents and the waste water, collected after washing the clothes, is mixed with the soil without causing ay chemical harm.
There is even a system that takes the septic tank overflow to the nutmeg field and this acts as manure for the trees. The water used for bathing and washing utensils is further recycled to water the trees. The family follows induction cooking methods and they do not depend on LPG gas. James believes that this is the safest, cleanest and energy-efficient cooking method ever.
To get maximum elevation, the slanting plot was raised by adding more sand so as to raise the plot by 1.8 meters. Right when you step out of the house, there is greenery to welcome you. The beauty of the open plan design starts from the sit-out. The big windows of the living, dining and family living areas offers views of the greenery outside. The specially designed shutter with holes, that was added to ensure a greater degree of security, lets in enough air. Natural lighting has been given priority throughout the house. The special roof tiles reduces the heat in the interiors. The modular RCC compound wall makes sure that the rainwater falling in the plot stays in and seeps into the ground.
Just like the family wanted, this is a house that has the least possible carbon-neutral energy usage and one that is totally in love with nature! They are happy that whoever visits can feel the positive energy that this house oozes.
Area – 3000 sqft
Architect – M M Jose
Mindscapes Architects, Pala
Owner – James Chacko