Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Importance of Making Indian Cities More Sustainable

India needs thriving cities to reap benefits of potential demographic dividend i.e. a young and rapidly growing population. It is estimated that an additional 26 cities of one million or more will be added in India by 2030 to its 42 one million plus cities today. Also, by 2030, the population in cities will soar to 590 million (340 million in 2008). According to a new MGI research, cities could generate 70 percent of net new jobs created to 2030, produce around 70 percent of Indian GDP, and drive a near fourfold increase in per capita incomes across the nation. 

To achieve this. Indian cities needs to be more sustainable. However, Indian cities are deeply dissatisfying, with a glaring incompatibility between aesthetic engagement and utility. Our cities are today marked with traffic congestion, the absence of reliable public transportation, the unsympathetic view towards pedestrian rights, the lack of adequate road signs and the creation of new bottlenecks by new flyovers. Building livable cities should be the goal of the development.

According to the McKinsey report, however, India has sufficient time and the means to address many of these issues. The report has outlined 5 strategies to meet its urban financial obligations. These are:

1. Monetize land assets.
2. Maximize property taxes and usage charges.
3. Establish a formula-based grants systems from state and central government.
4. Use appropriate debt and private-sector participation (public-private partnerships).
5. Create enabling systems and city development funds to facilitate use of revenue sources.

In the light of the above, urban sustainability has become a very important issue today.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Architecture - Environmentally Conscious Design Technique

Green Architecture, also known as Sustainable Architecture, is a growing trend throughout the world. This environmentally-conscious design technique is largely driven by certain goals and principles. The basic goals are:

- To reduce the impacts on the Earth from constructing buildings and their materials like embodied energy, pollutants, mining and harvesting.

- To reduce the occupancy related impacts like fuel use, land pattern disruption, maintenance etc.

- To reduce the impact of the structure at the end of its life (decaying in place or joining a landfill)

- Creating a more desirable human experience by using natural materials.

Green Architecture helps create or renovate the existing buildings in a way that they have a minimal impact on the environment. One of the primary goals of green architecture is to reduce to the amount of energy required to keep inhabitants comfortable. Similarly, the postion of building on a property can make a significant difference in energy efficiency. A building uses less energy if it generates its own. Green architecture designs often include the use of solar energy to supply most, if not all, of the electricity needs of the occupants of a home or office building particularly for heating hot water which is generally the biggest use of energy in a household.

Water efficiency is also one of the concerns of Green Architecture. It depends on water conserving fixtures like ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow showerheads. Green designs may include grey water systems that use waste water from laundry, dishwashing and bathing. The water can be recycled on-site for landscape irrigation or flushing toilets.