Climate Changes & Buildings

By Ar. Gaurav Sood, GM - Design & Development, ATS InfrastructureHeadquartered in Noida, ATS Infrastructure is an Indian real estate company offering green surroundings, modern architecture, world-class amenities and a host of convenient facilities for its customers.

Nowadays, there is a discussion happening all over the world ‘Climate Change'. People are often heard talking about our environment and the rising temperature of the earth's climate. The root cause of this problem can be majorly divided into two parts, i.e., Natural and Human Influence. We can't do much about the Nature's role in this, but we surely can do something about the little things which are directly or indirectly in our control. Our life is based on the oxygen that we inhale, and the beauty is that we can't generate it on our own. Living in Delhi-NCR, I can relate to the severity of increasing carbon content in the atmosphere. The newspapers show PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels on daily basis, which is way beyond the acceptable limits. The Capital suffocates with each breathe it takes.

There are several things that can make a difference, without much of an effort. People are using car pools, saying NO to plastic, taking care of the plants and also creating awareness in respective neighborhoods. Government is doing their bit by moving towards cleaner fuel, and increasing public transport network. Carbon footprint is a term that is used more often. In a broader perspective it can be explained as the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced to ease-out things in our day to day life. Directly or indirectly we are helping the cause.

I always think, that as professionals, all of us can play important role by just going slightly deeper into details in our respective fields, which some of us might be doing as well. As Architects, what can we do differently to make it count? While working on a particular design, we follow certain parameters. Other than the practical aspect of the design, there is an essential element that has always been a prime concern for us, i.e., look & feel of it. The aesthetics of a building is as important as the usefulness of it. But, more often than not, it is considered that aesthetics can only be created by using most expensive materials, artifacts and
more of fancy looking items with less availability, rather than simple and easily avail-able things. Well, these are means of ornamentation for most of the Architects but these are not the only ways of making our designs interesting. Sometimes, a rough surface can creates an effect that even most exclusive marble can't do.

Material selection is an essential aspect of architecture. Selecting the locally available material can be very helpful in saving our environment. Every material uses energy right from its creation at the origin until the transportation and finally up to the installation at site. This is called the Embodied Energy of that material. Higher the value of it, more hazardous it is for us. We should check for these parameters while selecting materials.

If we start practicing the basic principles of Architecture, we can make situation better as living in harmony with nature is quintessential and we have seen many examples of the consequences of disturbing the equilibrium

Change in Climate is the problem, for which we can have a temporary solution or a sustainable one. What if we do a combination of these simultaneously? We need to go back to the basic principles of Architecture, so that we can create such master pieces that use minimum energy and at the same time should look exceptional.

In the early designing stages or rather at the inception of our building concept, we can study the climate and factor in Wind direction, Sun path, Rainfall, Humidity, Temperature range and seasonal variations. Orientation of the building can be such that it gets maximum light so that it does not require any artificial light in the day time and also in winters no electrical equipment is needed to warm the spaces. Windows can be planned in a way that the breeze can enter uninterrupted from one side and exit from the opposite side, thus helping in lowering down the temperature in summers. In rainy season, we can collect the rain water from the roof-top through a specially designed pipeline in separate tanks and reuse it. These measures will enable the buildings to consume less energy in all the seasons. Moreover, the theory of recycle and re-use is not limited to rain water. Treating our sewage in Sewage treatment plants and utilizing treated water in flushing and irrigation will reduce our fresh water requirement drastically. Solar panels are very much in use these days to generate electricity.

Landscaping is another vital aspect that we need to address. Growing more and more plants can give us better air quality. But there is nothing new in it and all of us try to do so in our homes or offices. Selection of the plants also plays a key role. Local or native species can be preferred over other plants as they are conducive to the environment and their water requirement is very less as compared. Evergreen plants can be a prudent option as compared to seasonal plants. Innovative and advanced irrigation techniques can be implemented to further lower down the water requirements. Organic Waste composter can be a solution to two of our problems at once. Firstly it recycles our kitchen waste and secondly the waste becomes a compost for the plants and that too organic.

If we start practicing the basic principles of Architecture, we can make situation better as living in harmony with nature is quintessential and we have seen many examples of the consequences of disturbing the equilibrium. Therefore, I urge you all to take responsibility and be the change you want to see.