Leading architect Nilanjan Bhowal of Design Consortium understands how human needs have to be met by the design of a space with solutions which are technically sound, aesthetically appealing and environmentally friendly.
“With increasing environmental concerns residents of metro cities are not hesitant to spend a little extra to own a green and eco-friendly home today. Those who already have homes are looking for avenues to create an eco-friendly environment to pay back to nature,” says. Here are some of his suggestions on how you can build your ideal green home from scratch:
For the structure he recommends using AAC blocks (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) for external walls and fly ash bricks for inner walls. Both varieties are natural insulators of heat and being produced from industrial waste, you minimise carbon footprint.
The building should ideally face a northsouth direction so that it receives diffused natural light and no glare from direct sunlight. The next best option is creating windows facing east and west with double glazing and a suffi cient balcony covering the length of the building. Windows should ideally be mostly north facing to allow maximum light but minimum glare from the sun. If the windows face the east and west, the balcony’s projection should shade the window and allowdiffused lighting.
Rain water should be collected for kitchen and bathroom usage in a collection tank. Excess water can be sent to the ground to help increase the underground water level. Waste water should be chemically or organically treated and reused in the garden.
This environmentally-aware architect suggests installing a sewage treatment plant for treating waste water before it is released to the municipal lines. Sewage treatment plants and septic tanks should be checked and serviced regularly. Install a vertical composter for converting kitchen wasteinto manure.
Nilanjan believes in recycling. Building materials like chowkhats and bricks can be recycled for non-critical areas. Even tiles are something he likes to reuse from old constructions, having done so for his own home. Besides minimising the cost of construction, employing this approach is both aesthetically and environmentally beneficial.
Energy efficient solutions
“The envelope of the building must be insulated so that it gains less heat. Insulations in the walls and roof by using earthen pots in the slab help reduce heat gain. Solar panels and solar heaters can also be used. Light fixtures should be changed to LED’s and CFL’s for less energy consumption,” suggests Nilanjan.
Insulations in the flooring like vermiculite, reflective mosaic tile flooring and landscaping on the roof also helps. Not only do waterbodies look beautiful, they also help micro-climate the building. Line the drive-way with indigenous plants for shade and use only five star rated electrical products.
Maintaining your green home
Maintenance is key to ensure the building does not lose its green qualities. If using solar panels for electricity they should be wiped every week, as dust accumulation reduces their efficiency. The rain water harvesting collection tank should be checked to see if all the layers are correctly laid out and the dirt (if any) should be removed from time to time. Also, regularly clean the white tiles/mosaic on the roof. Double glazing, if installed, should be checked to make sure there are no leakages.
A conscious effort is needed from all of us. Like the technological developments we see each day, environmental concerns also need to be addressed with the same importance and efforts.
(In arrangement with THE MAN)