Sustainable Architecture for India

Yusuf Turab, Managing Director, Y.T. Enterprises, IGBC Accredited Professional and LEED Green Associate, Coimbatore.
Sustainable Architecture
It is important to address sustainable architecture because the practice is almost nonexistent in Indian cities. Also, there seems to be some ambiguity on what exactly constitutes sustainable architecture.

What is Sustainable Architecture?

If sustainability were to be given a shape, it would be the shape of a circle. Any aspect of living that can keep moving in a circle without interfering with objects outside this circle can be termed as sustainable, a bit like the Indian political system, where we seem to make enormous strides but every few years we realise that we are back to square one. In his enormously successful book Design with Nature, published in 1969, Ian McHarg argues that:

"If one accepts the simple proposition that nature is the arena of life and that a modicum of knowledge of her process is indispensable for survival and rather more for existence, health and delight, it is amazing that how many apparently difficult problems present a ready solution."

The key to architectural sustainability is to work with, rather than against, nature; to sensitively exploit and simultaneously avoid damaging natural systems. Architectural sustainability mirrors the view that it is necessary to position human activities as a non-damaging part of the ongoing ecological landscape, with a belief that 'nature knows best'.

Any green building, architect should identify places with intrinsic suitability for agriculture, forestry, recreation and urbanization. Designing with nature at a building level is about recognizing sun paths, breezes, shade trees and rock formations that can be used to create something that people can inhabit comfortably, while recognizing that natural features such as trees, animal tracks, habitats and natural drainage systems must be 'protected.'

For example, if one were to choose a device with high shading coefficient in the summer and a low shading coefficient in the winter, a vine may be used in place of a mechanical system. The vine shades the building when (and only when) it is needed, and the building provides a home for the vine. Thus both the building and the 'component' of nature are sustainable. By adding rainwater collection, reed beds for sewage and perhaps wind or solar power for electrical energy, the building can be independent of imported service and exported waste, keeping its environmental footprint within the footprint of the site. The final archetypal visual image is one of an isolated, self-sufficient buildings dominated by its surrounding landscape. A bit like the circle I talked about earlier.

Green Building in India

Green-Building in India
It goes without saying that the version of architecture that I described above is seldom practiced in India, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. The latest market-driven surge in green building has had some success at bridging the gap between current building practices and true sustainability.

India is now the second largest market for green buildings. This trend is completely market driven and has been achieved with very little government support.

While this sounds fantastic, there is an urgent need in India to extend the technological understanding of sustainable architecture and to incorporate socio-cultural aspects in its production. The need emerges from the fact that Indian architects have failed to recognize the significance of the social dimension in facilitating the sustainable development.

One challenge to India's acceptance of sustainable architecture is the gap between technology and economic status. On one end, sophisticated technology-based solutions have been developed to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, but they require a high initial investment that very few can afford. On the other end, affordable, low-cost technologies, such as mud architecture, are already available; however, these do not fit in with the aspirations of the upwardly mobile urban population. Affordable technology-based solutions are thus seen as the only means of addressing environmental degradation.

India and Energy Efficiency

energy efficiency buildings
In India, environmental agendas and green buildings are often based on the precedents of developed countries. The 2004 draft for the National Environmental Policy of India received heavy criticism for this reason.

The issue of energy efficiency is more relevant for developed countries where one-third of the total energy is utilized for heating or cooling of buildings. When energy efficiency is used as the main criterion for green buildings in India, several critical issues tend to be ignored. For example, the issues of water and sanitation are more critical than energy efficiency in India. Studies indicate that at current rates of population growth and consumption of water per capita, there will be a shortage of drinking water in Indian urban centres within the next decade.

That being said, the western model of sustainability works very well and has measurable benefits. However, economically speaking, I am not entirely convinced, it is the best solution for India. Instead, I believe that we need home grown solutions that propagate self-sufficiency and contemporary regionalism while maintaining decentralized approach to sustainability.

My personal view is that the debate on sustainable architecture cannot be restricted to quantitative environmental sustainability. It is essential that relationship between social, economic and environmental sustainability should become a critical consideration for the design of India's built environment. There is little sense in spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings if very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford.

Deepika Mathur of the University of Melbourne has rightly pointed out that:

"By limiting itself to sustainability that is dependent on technology for solutions, sustainable architecture in India fails to incorporate the critical dimension of social and cultural sustainability without which it may not work in the Indian context. To be environmentally sustainable, architecture would need to also register the social, political, economical and cultural context of India and offer solutions that are sensitive to its particularities. This precludes universal technological solutions in the form of models of environmental sustainability derived directly from the West."
Click Here
To Know More / Contact The Manufacturer
Please provide your details we will contact you as soon as possible
Please let us know your name.
Please let us know your Designation.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your email address.
Please let us know your City.
Please let us know your Contact Number.
Please brief your query.
Our other value-added services:

To receive updates through e-mail on Products, New Technologies & Equipment, please select the Product Category(s) you are interested in and click 'Submit'. This will help you save time plus you will get the best price quotations from many manufacturers, which you can then evaluate and negotiate.

Equipment & Machinery
Invalid Input
Building Products
Invalid Input

SE Controls: Building on 40 Years of Expertise in Smoke Ventilation & Control

SE Controls is a leading global specialist in manufacture, design, and delivery of intelligent smoke and environmental ventilation systems, and smoke control, using façade automation as an integral part of the building envelope. SE Controls began operations in India Read More ...

A Natural Biophilic Element

greenscreen®’s newest product design for 2022 is the award-winning gsTree which creates shade, provides privacy, and adds the natural biophilic element to any project. The freestanding gsTree rises up from the ground to wrap a supporting column, directing plant Read More ...

How technology is enabling a faster return to offices

The modern office has for long been unimaginable without all things tech. Now, technology is also governing how our new offices take shape - from the four blank walls to a living, thriving workspace complete with focus and wellness areas, and collaboration zones Read More ...

On-The-Go Cloud-Based Fenestration ERP Software

EvA has come up with a new cloud solution – the EvA CLOUD - which can be accessed through the user’s mobile, tablet, and laptop, anytime and from anywhere. The new, easy to use application can also be used by dealers and sales executives for generating quotations on site Read More ...

Lutron Wall Controls for Luxury Homes

Ripu Daman Sharma, Sr. Country Manager - India Subcontinent, Lutron Electronics, elaborates on the trends and technology in home automation, and the products offered by the company. One of the mega trends is the Internet of things (IoT). When it comes to home Read More ...

How Technology Changed Civil Engineering For The Better

The rapid pace of technological advancement is changing every single aspect of our lives — and all of the industries and sectors in which we work. Consequently, civil engineering is not an exception here. For instance, there are plenty of ways in which technology Read More ...

Best smart security cameras to safeguard your home

When picking a CCTV camera for our homes, it is very important that we check all the specifications in detail. Owing to the developments over the year that went by, there has been a spurt in the smart device segment and the security and surveillance segment is one where there's hardly any buyer for devices that are non-smart Read More ...

Air to Water Generation is a Reality

Air-to-Water Generation (AWG) technology is real; in fact, we have devoted our lives and work - separating moisture and drinking water from air – and are set to enter Indian markets – both consumer and institutional – in partnership with a Kolkata-based business house, say Partha Chakraborty & Art Neumann, Founders of Infinite Water, Inc. (IW), an Air to Water Generation technology company based in the USA, as they share their journey in the making of AWG technology. Read More ...

Designing ‘Ready-to-Approve’ Building Plans Online

As the government is aggressively pushing Smart Governance and Digital India, most of the urban local bodies (ULBs) have adopted the online building plan approval system, says Vijay Gupta, Chairman & CEO SoftTech Engineers Limited Read More ...

Offsite Construction

From quality assurance to faster completion, Offsite Construction Technology can be a gamechanger in the post-Covid world, avers Nejeeb Khan, Country Head, Katerra, India. India has set an ambitious target of providing housing facilities to all by 2022 Read More ...

Architecture in the Age of Augmented Reality

How Virtual Reality (AR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will shape the future of built environments. To those outside of the industry, the idea of taking a virtual tour of a new building before it’s even been constructed, every detail brought to life by wearing VR goggles Read More ...

Prioritising Sustainability & Digital Transformation

It is important to start now and design buildings that are equipped with safe, smart and sustainable building technologies for the future, says Raj Manek, Executive Director & Board Member, Messe Frankfurt Asia Holdings Read More ...

Inter-tech: Making India Safe

Earthing is a science and needs to be designed for a location, depending on the soil resistivity value of the location; it is advised to design the Earthing solutions at the very beginning of the project by placing the earth electrodes in the basement, says Charanjeet Singh Read More ...

Smart Poles Bring Smart Solutions

iRAM Technologies’ Smart Pole is a specially designed high strength pole of 9-25 meters height with a camouflage cage to conceal the telecom, IT and IoT components, and an underground chamber for various control devices, gateways, UPS, etc. The camouflage cage or nacelle Read More ...

K- Lite’s Intelligent Poles

The concept of smart cities came into being as a consequential development to internet of things (IoT), digital connectivity, global warming, and the compelling necessities for energy saving. More than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. A city environment Read More ...

Prefabricated Modular Construction: A rising trend

Prefabricated and modular construction is the production of components in factories that are then transported to the final location and assembled onsite. It is also instrumental in reducing electricity consumption in the factory in Read More ...