Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wind for Power and Water: Ancient Persian Windmills

Green buildings, sustainable energy, utilizing natural light and water may all sound recently coined buzz-phrases but in reality these concepts dates back to tens of thousands of years. From Greece and Rome to Persia and North America, our ancestors had innovative concepts to use geothermal, water, wind and solar power. 

Ancient Persian windmills are perfect examples of how wind was utilized for power and water. Some 3000 years before in ancient Persia, windmills were used to grind grain and pump water. Vertical paddles were created by bundling reeds together and these paddles spun around a central axis. Carefully placed exterior walls ensured that wind would primarily drive the potentially bidirectional system in the desired direction. 

Images via: Ullesthorpe, Blue Planet, Deutsches Museum and World of Energy


Green Building Congress announces three new rating systems

The Indian Green Building Council recently announced its own rating system for new buildings. Till now the US Leed certification was followed in rating new buildings in India. The three new  rating systems will cover schools, metro rail projects and new buildings. Announcing the launching of the three systems at the CII Green Building Congress 2014, Prem C Jain, Chairman of IGBC, said the New Building Rating System comes in the backdrop of IGBC and US Green Building Council parting ways on the Leed certification programme. "We have adopted this approach as we believe India could become a next big Green Building base in the world,” he said.

India now has a registered green building base of over 2.2 billion sq.ft, which has been achieved in about 10 years. The Indian Green Building Council is aiming to have a registered base of about 10 billion sq.ft by 2022, when India would be 75 years after Independence.

A portal has also been created to facilitate online interface on green building rating systems.

Friday, September 5, 2014

AIIMS campus in Delhi to become climate-responsive

Ministry of Health has recently taken initiative to make AIIMS campus in Delhi climate-responsive. Renowned solar expert SP Gon Chowdhury will attempt to make the half-century-old All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) campus in Delhi energy efficient. Gon Chowdhury will also be advising the ministry to ensure that the new AIIMS units proposed in different states - including West Bengal - become 'green buildings'. The task to make AIIMS in Delhi climate responsive will be a tough one. The buildings of the institute dates back to the 1950s, and therefore large-scale retrofit will be  required. Though installing solar panels on the roof will be easy, conserving water, capturing daylight and managing solid waste effectively will be difficult.

"To reach the ultimate goal of a climate-responsive campus, we have to modernize the buildings so that they are more efficient. There are systems and technologies like solar dome to capture daylight and stream it through highly reflective 2-3 inch tubes. This can be used to light up an entire building during the day without the need to switch on electric lights," Gon Chowdhury explained. He also wish to capture the heat generated by air-conditioners and then use it to generate thermal power.

"Retrofit is happening everywhere including Italy, Latin America, the US, Australia and Germany. While any retrofit is a challenge, the bigger hurdle is to change the mindset so that people recognize the importance of being energy-efficient and carbon neutral," said Gon Chowdhury.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Delhi schools to try out solar power!

In order to utilize solar power, several public schools are considering setting up roof-top solar power plants in New Delhi. According to a report published in Times of India, the environment department of Delhi government has already installed roof-top solar power plants in four government schools - Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalayas in Mayur Vihar Phase I, Mangolpuri, Jwalapuri and RK Puram, Sector 12. These solar plants will produce 10 kilowatt each.

Vasant Valley School had set its plant up about a year-and-a-half ago and it takes care of about a third of our power requirement, informs Rekha Krishan, Principal of the school. Laxman Public School, too had tried to set up solar power plants for the hostel a couple of years ago, but it didn't work for them at that time. Usha Ram, principal,is considering to take it up again with the help of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). "We need it for our own requirement. We just need proper assistance," she says. 

According to a senior official in the environment department, the projects at government schools will be funded by a mix of government agencies—30% by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and 70% by Delhi government. The Delhi State Industrial And Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd will provide technical support. "The equipment has been installed but will be commissioned in a month or so," said the official.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Architects Can Now Test Energy Efficiency Before Construction!

A California lab has designed a rotating, customizable lab that allows commercial real estate developers to create mock-ups of planned buildings to test out their energy use. According to a story published in GreenWire, the architects can test the energy efficiency of the interior of a building before the building is constructed. This Energy Department-funded 'Flexlab', is aimed at bridging the gulf between expected savings from buildings’ efficiency and actual results.


Buildings which consume up to 40 percent of the country’s (USA) energy use often don’t deliver on their promises of efficiency. According to a study, it was found that a quarter of efficiently designed buildings underestimated their energy intensity by at least 25 percent.

“If we don’t really bend the curve on efficiency, we’re just not going to make the targets,” he said. “You’re going to have to pull together every muscle and sinew, and that’s what this facility does,” said Daniel Poneman, DOE Deputy Secretary. 

The lab facility, which was funded with $15.7 million from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, allows building planners to create mock-ups of their interiors to see how they perform in the real world with an eye toward collecting data on energy efficiency as well as comfort and ease of use. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Could This Mushroom Building Be The Future Of Green Architecture?


The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Program, since last 15 years, challenges young architects to design innovative projects that bring new possibilities to our understanding of sustainable architecture. This year's winning project is a cylindrical tower which isn't quite manufactured but grown! The tower is 'grown' using entirely organic material made from cornstalks and the root-like structures of mushrooms, called mycelium. Designed by David Benjamin of New York architects The Living, is, simply put, a mushroom tower. And this mushroom tower could change the future of environmental design.

"In this project, we're using a living organism as a factory. So the living organism of mycelium, or hyphae, which is basically a mushroom root, basically makes our bricks for us," explained designer Benjamin. These mushroom roots, created by Ecovative in 2007, up till now have mostly been used as a packaging material. 

To create the brick substitute, the mixture of cornstalk and mushroom root is left to harden for several days into a sturdy solid through an entirely natural cycle requiring nearly no waste, nearly no energy and nearly no carbon emissions. Essentially, the architects channel the "biological algorithm" of mushroom roots to grow a building from the ground up. The entire growing process takes around five days.




Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus, Seattle, Washington is the largest non-profit LEED-NC Platinum project in the world

 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle, Washington is the largest non-profit LEED-NC Platinum project in the world. The sustainable design of the campus reduces the potable water use by 80 percent, and energy consumption by 40 percent - an upfront investment in this 100-year, energy-efficient building that will pay for itself in fewer than 30 years. The 640,000 square feet campus restores a wildlife habitat while hosting a major philanthropic organization. 

The campus which hosts largest LEED-NC Platinum building in the world today, once hosted railway trestles, homesteads, farming, a street-car barn and a bus barn. The campus now helps restore 40% of the campus back to being a wild bird habitat and this being done with two acres of vegetated roofs on parking structures, which feature edible plants like blueberries, huckleberries and red flowering currant. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Campus also have an intricate rainwater filtering system and 46 solar hot water collectors, saving energy along with birds - and if the foundation's will is done, the world.

This LEED Platinum campus enables its workforce to focus on their mission: giving all people a chance to live healthy and productive lives. A post-occupancy research findings claims a 90% staff satisfaction rating for the new workplace and higher degrees of cross-team collaboration.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Emotional Benefits of Sustainable Architecture

All of us are connected to the architecture in some way and can experience it in our homes, workplaces, surroundings or when we see monuments and even modern buildings. Architecture can even inspire us more so if it is 'Green'! Sustainable Architecture can have emotional benefits too. 


You feel connected to the nature
Sustainable Architecture means deeply integrating green technologies like wind and solar power, natural climate controls and space-age materials in to the building processes. The final product is a unit that connects and benefit from nature. Everyone deserves good space derived from good ideas - and if the idea is green, then naturally you feel more connected to the nature. Sustainable and modern architecture, actually, seek to strike a balance between modern comforts and our connection to nature.

You become responsible to the environment
Worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the world's energy, 25% of its wood, and 15% of its water! By adopting green building strategies, you can maximize both economic and environmental performance. Therefore, directly or indirectly, you not only fulfill your duty towards the environment but also make smarter choice when you decide to go green.

You feel connected to the community
Sustainable architecture is also about the connectivity of community. Smart green design and construction requires people to recognize the power of community. And, ultimately the community and the people within it gets benefited the most, hence, there is a sense of connectivity among people - within and with the community.

There is a feeling of health and well-being
When you connect with the nature and the people and when there is positivity in the environment around, then it is not surprising that there will be feelings of good health and well-being. Clean lines, open spaces, warm materials, natural environments and modern forms are all independently healthy and positive. Moreover, superior indoor air quality and control over thermal comfort naturally makes living healthy!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Metro stations to be rated on green building standards

The green building movement in India has got impetus with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) announcement that stations of Delhi Metro's upcoming Phase III, along with other stations across the country, will be rated to judge their compatibility with green building norms.


Anuj Dayal, the Delhi Metro spokesman said,"Metro stations will be rated on green building standards and this will help the metro systems design their stations as eco-friendly structures and utilize natural resources such as sunlight more effectively." 

"Green buildings help in better preservation of the environment as in such structures there are provisions for better saving of energy, water and CO2. Such buildings also have better waste management arrangements," added Dayal. 

"The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), a body involved in promoting the Green Building concept in India, will be conducting this rating process. They will also issue guidelines for designing the station structures as green buildings," he added.

The rating process will help the upcoming Metro projects design their stations according to green building norms. They can later apply for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is a globally accepted green building certification programme that recognizes the best in class building strategies and practices. DMRC had announced earlier that all the stations in its third phase of expansion along with 12 receiving sub-stations and residential quarters will be designed as green buildings. Apart from Kolkata and Delhi, metro systems are also operational at Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Green roofs to provide respite from hot summers!

Few days back a Virginia Tech architect revealed that 'green roofs' need not go to great depths to work. Elizabeth J. Grant, an assistant professor of architecture and design at Virginia Tech said, "With growing numbers of people moving into cities, it is crucial to give architects and builders tools to make good decisions about green roofs," Grant said. "These systems are on the rise not just because they represent a link to the natural world that is scarce in the city, but because they work. Extremes of temperature and rainfall are becoming unpredictable as climates change, and vegetated roofs help us build resilience in a rapidly changing world."


A green roof is a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop to provide shade and remove heat from the air through evapotranspiration, decreasing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. Green roofs, therefore, are effective technique to get respite from summer. The process also helps in saving energy consumption by cutting cooling cost of the buildings significantly. Green roofs also reduce storm water runoff and flow rates, which in turn helps prevent sewers from overflowing and stream banks from eroding.

Green roofs can be installed on a wide range of buildings, from industrial structures to private homes. These vegetated roofs can be as simple as a 2-inch covering of ground cover or as complex as a fully accessible park complete with trees! 

Apart from cooling the building, the green roof reduces energy consumption, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Green roofs can slow storm water runoff in the urban environment and also improve indoor human health, comfort and quality of life.