Sustainability is a matter of lifestyle, says Delhi architect Neelanjan Bhowal
Architect Neelanjan Bhowal is known for designing green homes – homes which cause no negative impact on the environment, are energy-efficient and eco-friendly.
Green One, a house constructed by him in CR Park is the first residence in India to achieve the five-star SVAGRIHA (Simple Versatile Affordable Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) rating of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).
What goes into creating a green home?
Energy efficiency is most important factor. In a green house, windows should be placed on the north side so that maximum light and minimum glare is received from the sun.
The two other good directions are east and west – here windows should be made by making the balcony projections in a way that it shades the window and allows diffused lighting. Efforts are made to use solar, wind or biomass energy to meet energy requirements.
Sustainable material like bamboo, jute and wood helps in keeping the environment green. For walls, flyash bricks and AAC blocks are used.
Orientation is also an important aspect. The plot’s longer sides should be north–south oriented so that the house receives diffused natural light and not glare from direct sunlight and minimum surface is exposed to east and west.
How to convert an existing home into a green one?
There are many things one can do. Purchase recycled furniture, use wood as it is a natural insulator and helps keep cool air inside the building.
Use white heat reflective tiles, recycle and re-use waste water with recharge pits, have vertical gardens on roofs and terraces, go for solar panels, solar geysers, rainwater harvesting, use LEDs for lights and shading devices like pergola and trellis etc.
What’s the costing difference in a ‘normal’ home vis a vis a green home?
The initial cost of setting up a green home can be higher (about 10 per cent), but it is a long term investment which pays back in the future.
Usually the savings in energy and resources pay back within 3-4 years, and after that the home runs free.
Considering many areas may be affected by sustainable design, how will you determine which options to pursue?
Sustainability is a matter of lifestyle, which includes minimising waste and utilising resources optimally.
I believe a step beyond the green concept is zero carbon footprint. It must have a mechanism to generate its own electricity, recycling of the waste water and kitchen waste, proper treatment of sewage and only use low-energy consuming lighting and plumbing fixtures.
Buildings made from steel, concrete, glass, and other energy-intensive materials have a high level of ‘embodied’ energy and our aim is to reduce this embodied energy.
Green One is one of our esteemed projects where we used door shutters and jambs taken from old sites, which reduces the green homes’ carbon footprint on the environment.
What challenges do you foresee in a project?
While green building practices are being accepted, a there’s still a segment of clients who need to be educated about it, which is sometimes a challenge. Lack of proper government rules and the high initial cost of equipment used in the construction of green buildings also hinder this process.