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.