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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

By 2019, India's government promises at least one lightbulb in every home, thanks to solar energy

The new central government of India has promised at least one bulb in every home with solar energy by 2019. This idea of generating electricity with roof-top solar plant has prompted state governments in India to go door-to-door, or rather roof-to-roof, to solve their acute and recurring power problems.

Karnataka which is the largest southern state by area has recently announced its new solar policy and the state government plans to buy energy from homes and public buildings that generate power from rooftop solar panels connected to the power grid. This summer Karnataka had a shortage of more than 400 megawatts of power in April. Also, Bangalore, the state’s capital, witnessed power cuts every two hours in the hot months of April and May. If this solar energy plans goes well then Karnataka will add 2,000 megawatts (2 gigawatts) to the state’s power kitty and rooftops will contribute 400 megawatts by 2018. Karnataka has 10 gigawatts of solar energy potential because the city gets over 300 sunny days a year!

Typically a residential rooftop area in India ranges between 200 and 1,000 square feet. This means it can comfortably house a standard one-kilowatt solar photo voltaic system. The Energy and Resources Institute estimates these systems can cost as little as Rs 110,000.

Thursday, May 29, 2014


The Chimes Building, Gurgaon has been featured in May' 2014 issue of Journal of Indian Institute of Architects. We reproduce the content here.

Ar Aashish V Karode, B.Arch. MUD (Berkeley), USA
Aashish believes in Architecture that is beautifully functional, ecologically responsible and environmentally sustainable. While he finds his passion in the careful balance of client and end user input, he matches this with an uncompromising dedication to design that elevates the experience of places that he designs. His hands-on project involvement, with his dedication and commitment to sustainable design through elegant and high performance environments are the key to many of the successful projects done by the firm. His core expertise of a strong creative design approach to projects and a practical methodology to finding solutions that fit the client's needs is an essential component that shapes the firm's design philosophy.

With over 20 years of extensive design experience on a number of significant projects, Aashish has led the firm in a variety of works ranging from hospitality, schools, commercial and institutional projects to townships including the Reliance Power Township at Sasan, and Industrial Townships in Odisha and various LEED Gold and Platinum projects that the firm has recently been engaged with.

Ar Sushil L Karer, B.Arch., Institute of Environmental Design
Karer is focused on the role that design plays in creating exciting and stimulating environments that are sustainable over their life cycle and use resources conservatively. He has more than 20 years of experience in architecture, facilities planning, design and concept development of Institutional Architecture and Interior Design in the IT, hospitality, retail and residential sectors and project implementation. His experience and commitment is a complement to Design Atelier's sustainability resume and market focus. Karer adds depth and energy to his team because of which the company has emerged as one of the most highly regarded architectural firms in the country.


The Architecture of the Chimes Building, Gurgaon is about creating public spaces that are accessible and enable the experience of nature within the spaces of the building, symbolizing life inside the building. The design of the building addresses issues of sustainability, sociability, making room for nature, and programme flexibility. The building mass is specially developed to demonstrate a novel solution for a multi-tenanted office building with floor plate size flexibility to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries. To create a high profile address, it was envisioned to organize each floor as potentially heterogeneous openplan environments. They can be combined or be separated on user requests with controlled indoor environments and amenities to suit a variety of needs for large and small businesses organized to share common community resources set up in the building.

The design of the building emphasizes diversity of all kinds: juxtaposition of people, functions, built forms, spaces. Activities are just some of the fundamental elements that help encourage an inclusive and sustainable public sphere that thrives at all times. The building is raised up from the ground on pilotis, allowing free-flowing open spaces. The building is shaded from the harsh sun, with a variety of water pools and guided streams cooling the air and plants growing within and around the building on the site to cool the ground. A variety of public spaces are created at ground level that are accessible, shaded and close to nature. These spaces encourage serendipitous meetings, foster community engagement and active participation in urban work life.

At the ground, the concept of openness, spaces flowing together, plays a major factor in the design. The public areas including a restaurant/café are located on the ground floor, with smaller spaces to encourage people to meet spontaneously for coffee or for informal meetings. Various spaces for public functions are offered- an open air performing arts theatre, a cafeteria, a future exhibition space and a restaurant. A number of available conference rooms, meeting lounges form a complete sociable and efficient centre for the complex to respond to all nature of business requirements. Sky terraces attached to each floor plate connect to nature.

To maximize the use of green spaces and the views from within and outside and make use of the ground, otherwise lost to building footprint, the design places the gardens around glass-lined movement corridors and staircase cores. The journey path through the spaces of the building, lift lobbies, holding areas, social spaces, cafeteria and reception are located along the way and designed as people places. It suggests the idea of diverse experience of graded light and shaded spaces, landscape variation to include plant and animal life (etched into the stone surfaces), air, earth and water as part of each of the pauses and transition experiences. Visual connections are made through glass courtyards, corridors and lobbies, together with the complex interconnections and interpenetrations of interior spaces, the interplay of light and choices of just a few material finishes. The symbolism of the landscape and the architectural artifact are intended to enliven the whole ensemble.

The form development follows the idea of raising the building on pilotis to relieve the ground and give back the landscape to the ground- creating a sociable and welcoming space of the entrance reception. Reception is a glass cube set in a water garden, using plants as tree cover and water as climate modulators. A variety of water bodies and plants have been provided around and inside the building to cool the ground, and transform it into a space with positive energy, shaded social spaces, and graded light. Open spaces and light wells work as courtyards that relieve the bulk of the form and supply natural light to the inside of the office floor plates.

The floor plates are modular, independently equipped with amenities/ facilities for modern office requirements and can be combined into heterogeneous open plan environments to suit a variety of needs for a mix of large and small businesses sharing common community resources set up in the building. With this profile, the flexibility in floor plate size makes for best possible marketing to create a mix of tenants from various service sectors and industries.

The Façade design is guided by its visibility and response to the street corner, visibility from the surrounding spaces and the main roads and to the climatic considerations of the solar path, natural light penetration and breezes. It is equally about imagining a sensible notion of contemporariness, with formal and material choice that echo the historic form of massive Indian wall making that rejects heat and the high sun, but allows filtered natural light. The North allows light, but rejects reflected heat, the ribbon windows on the west, east and south faces are set high on the floor plate to allow the deeper penetration of a limited amount of the harsher western and southern light, but freely allows internal courtyard reflected light and North light to penetrate the plates through large treated glass surfaces. The heat gain thus reduced is further mitigated by the use of heat reflective paint and the insulated wall section.

A number of strip windows in the otherwise massive walls are used to visually connect the interior and the exterior and is mitigated by the use of anti-dazzle e-glass so people do not lose touch with the natural environment while at work. Outsiders get curious glimpses of light and activity through the façade that activates the otherwise solid building as a place of action.

The architecture is used to develop the building marked by energy efficiency, operational convenience, low operational cost and optimized investment costs. It focuses not only on the façade, sun shading, and lighting details but above all, also on minimizing the energy consumption of the building while optimizing natural light consumption. The building is glazed on the North face and on shaded facades with higher performance glass responsive to the conditions. On exposed and direct heat receiving faces a solar façade of small openings set up high on the floor, allow less direct heat and maximizes penetrations of light into the plate.

The insatiable demand for parking is met by the provision for a double stack parking system, extra capacity preferred parking spaces for car poolers, and parking for the electric shuttle to connect with the future metro nearby. This facilitates an office building without visible cars and frees the ground to landscape and a pleasing outdoor environment.

The building consists four inter connected floor plate blocks of varied size and scale organized around courtyards. These floors are independently equipped with amenities for all modern office requirements.

Project Details
Name of Client : Chimes Group, Athena
Business Solutions
Design Team : Aashish Karode, Prosenjit Banerjee
Site Area : 2 Acres
Built-Up Area : 270,000 sft
Date of Commencement : March 2008
Completion Date : January 2011- 2012 Interiors
Photo Credits : Dileep Prakash, Aashish Karode, Navin Kumar

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Japan to Assist India Build 24 Green Cities in Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor

In recent years India has worked to diversify its energy supplies and make its infrastructure ‘greener’. The ambitious Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project is the largest infrastructure project currently underway in the country. Japan is helping India to build 24 Green Cities in India’s western region. The work in 7 of the 24 green cities has already underway, with Gujarat set to be the first state to undergo an eco upgrade. The green cities project is part of the proposed $90 billion Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor mega-infrastructure project which aims at boosting the economic growth along the about 1500-km-long stretch that joins the most important cities of India, New Delhi and Mumbai.

The objective is to develop green cities which would be planned and executed in a manner that would ensure sustainable growth. These proposed cities would have better transport facilities centered around public transport. The green cities will also have access to optimized power supply and 24-hour water supply. It has also been planned that these cities would also have their own waste and water recycling plants.

Japan is offering its energy-efficient technologies to make these green cities as sustainable as possible. Japan has invested in numerous infrastructure projects in India including the Delhi Metro project. The DMIC project is already underway and will cover six states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.