Building a Green Home

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Building a Green Home

Nilanjan Bhowal, Founder and Principal Architect, Design Consortium, is the recipient of over 35 national awards. He has presented papers at all major Indian National Conferences of Architecture as well as Conferences in the US and Europe.

Building a Green Home

30 Jan 2020

Aspire to own a green home? Green Architect, NILANJAN BHOWAL, shares some tips!

With the 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 a lavish home are also looking for avenues to create an eco-friendly environment at home to pay back to the nature.

Here are a few important points to be kept in mind while making a green home:

Structure: AAC blocks (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) should be used for the external walls and fly-ash bricks for the inner walls as both of these are natural insulators of heat and are produced from the industrial waste.

Orientation: The plot’s longer sides should be North-South oriented so that the house receives diffused natural light and not glare from the direct sunlight. If not, then there can be East and West facing windows, which should be either double glazed or have a chajja/balcony covering the windows sufficiently.

Openings: Windows should be placed maximum on the North side so that maximum light and minimum glare is received from the sun. If not possible, then one can place it in the East and West directions by making the balcony’s projection in such a way so that it shades the window and allow diffused lighting.

Preserve rainwater: Rainwater should be collected from the terrace and balconies for a harvesting tank. Excess water can be sent to the ground through bores, for raising underground water level. Wastewater from the bathrooms and kitchens should be chemically or organically treated and reused for gardening and car-wash.

Waste management: Sewage should not be released directly into the municipal lines. Installing an STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) on site does the first level of treatment. After the treatment, the water is sent to the municipal treatment plant where it is treated further. Also, kitchen waste can be used to produce natural compost with the use of a vertical composter. This reduces the overall garbage from the building and provides natural compost for the garden.

Judicious use of old building materials: Reuse materials from old buildings such as old chowkhats and bricks in non-critical areas.

Energy: Most of the energy, which is consumed in India is to keep the buildings cool. This can be avoided if the envelope of the building is insulated so that it gains less heat. Insulations in the walls and roof, for example, by using earthen pots in the slab help reduce heat gain. Solar panels and solar heaters can also be used. Light fixtures can be changed to LED’s and CFL’s for less energy consumption.

Terrace: The roof of any building gets maximum heat. Insulations in the flooring such as vermiculite can be used. Reflective mosaic tile flooring helps reduce heat gain effectively. Landscaping on the roof is also helpful.

Water Bodies: Adding water bodies in some form at home to manage the micro-climate of the building. Water bodies on the terrace can help in evaporative cooling.

Others: Driveway and road to be lined with plants or trees to keep it shaded. For this, local plants, shrubs and trees to be used.

All appliances used should have a 5 star rating as they conserve energy.

Apart from this, maintaining such a house is also important to keep it efficient and sustainable so that it does not lose its promising green qualities. For example, Solar Panels used for generating electricity should be wiped every week to remove the dust collecting on it as it reduces the efficiency of the panel to generate sufficient electricity. The rainwater harvesting collection tank should be checked to see if all the layers are correctly laid and the dirt (if any) should be removed from time to time.

STP also need regular checks. The septic tank should be cleaned and the chemicals that need to be added should be added regularly without fail.
Other minor requirements would be regular cleaning of the white tiles or mosaic on the roof. Double glazing, if installed, should be checked to ensure that there are no leakages.

All these small efforts contribute a lot towards creating an efficient green home and require just a little bit of attention. The country is moving towards a developed status, and so a conscious effort is required from each of us. Just like the dynamic technological developments we see each day, environmental concerns also need to be addressed with the same importance and efforts.

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