Where to walk is the question
This is with reference to the editorial, "Roads are meant for walking" (June 1630, 2014). Given that road accidents are common in India, I would like to suggest a few measures by which accidents can be prevented. There should be a hefty fine for jumping the traffic signal. Use of helmets and seat belts should be made compulsory in all states. To control vehicular pollution, incentives could be given to commuters who use cycles. However, it is important to have a separate lane for cyclists and pedestrians. CCTV cameras should be installed in accident-prone areas. More importantly, the procedure to issue driving licence should be made rigorous so that only competent drivers are allowed on roads.
AMIT KUMAR JHA
The title of the editorial is misleading. Roads are not meant for walking, pavements are. The reality, of course, is different in India. Pavements are shrinking in size by the day. Reasons are up stalls, vehicles parked halfway on the pavement, increased width of roads. Many pavements are dotted with manholes and potholes. These pose grave danger during rains when roads and footpaths are submerged under water. When it comes to roads, the situation is equally grim. Accidents are alarmingly high due to carelessness and disregard for rules. People have no sense of lane driving in India. Speed limits are rarely adhered to. Speed breakers and dividers, most of which are not marked or are poorly marked, ironically cause more accidents than prevent them. Police patrolling during the night and in highways is a must. It is time the enforcement of traffic regulations was taken seriously by the authorities and civilians.
D B N MURTHY
Footpaths in cities are mostly encroached upon by shopkeepers. This restricts space for pedestrians to commute, but no authority takes the responsibility to evict the shopkeepers. Pedestrians are, thus, forced to navigate their way through busy roads, increasing the chances of accidents.
A K BHATTACHARYYA
The article "Energy wise, resource foolish" (June 1-15, 2014) discusses the design parameters of the IPB building project in Delhi. We would like to illustrate the following points based on the actual design occupancy of 1,150 people and various established building design efficiency criteria.
The energy load as per the energy production is 1,260,000 kWh/1,150 people, i.e. 1,095 kWh/capita/year. This is not comparable to the energy consumption per capita figure, 778.71 kWh/capita, which includes all sectoral residential, commercial, retail and even industrial, comprising all electricity-consuming equipment. It will be inappropriate to compare such a mixed number of all sectoral end uses with consumption from just one building. That is why the Energy Conservation Act talks about Energy Performance Index (EPI) of a building for comparing "apples to apples", based on the Energy Conservation Building Code. In using the standardised method, one notices that IPB is not just competitive but exceeds performance standards in India and abroad.
In accordance with the methodology described by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) for its star labelling programme (for above or below 50 per cent air-conditioned spaces), IPB falls in the building category of more than 50 per cent air-conditioned office. Therefore, it is expected to qualify to be a five-star compliant once fully operational.
Total water consumption for the IPB project, including horticulture and air- conditioning, per capita, is 36.5 litres (42,000 litres/1,150). This is quite efficient as compared to the value of a conventional building of 45 litres/capita which usually needs large amounts of additional water per capita. As for rainwater harvesting, it has been incorporated as natural percolation points as per the existing hydrological character and precipitation pattern in New Delhi.
In calculating land per capita and floor space per capita, the building is designed by the Central Public Works
Department as per the prevailing building bylaws to maximise utilisation of land, thus reducing the ecological footprint per capita.
Parking provisions as provided at the IPB building for 344 cars are mandatory as per existing planning guidelines and the building cannot be currently built without it. But the decision to use a Robotic Basement Parking instead takes up only 19 square metres of space per car instead of the usual 35 sq m for conventional basement parking. This also entails a large reduction in parking volume due to efficient stacking system. DEEPENDRA PRASHAD AND NEERAJ KAPOOR Sustainable design consultants for IPB project
Down To Earth replies:
● The article has cited the official press release of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, dated February 25, 2014, which says the building is meant for 600 officials. This has been used to calculate the per official resource consumption. This estimate will change if more updated official numbers are made available.
● The infographic compares the building's estimated per capita electricity consumption to the national per capita electricity availability to help readers grasp the scale of use. This is a standard approach for making indicative comparison. For example, the amount of water consumed in maintaining a golf course versus the total availability of water for citizens. About 150 liters of water should be enough to meet all direct and indirect water needs of an average person, while a golf course may consume multifold just to provide a few hours of recreation to a very select population.
● Though energy use per square metre of built area is a common approach for buildings, the use of per capita use in buildings is also gaining ground. The US government's energy star rating for existing commercial buildings factors in a building's occupancy data in deciding the final energy efficiency score of the building.
● According to the Energy Conservation Act, 2001, energy consumption of buildings is to be measured and expressed in terms of per square metre of the area wherein energy is used and includes the location of the building. There is no standard formula for EPI calculation. If the Act's definition of energy performance is used to derive an EPI, then IPB's EPI should be 45 kWh/sq m/year, while by BEE's method IPB's EPI works out to be around 75 kWh/sq m/ year, and the GRIHA method pitches it at 39.28 kWh/ sq m/year.
● It is acknowledged that according to BEE's star rating classification, the building falls in the category of more than 50 per cent air-conditioned day use office and may qualify as five-star compliant once fully operational. It may be noted that BEE's star rating makes this air conditioning-based classification only for day use office buildings. No such dual standards apply to BPOs (with extended working hours) and retail malls.
● It is understood that the building has followed the current bylaws of the city. The article does not fault this as a mistake but raises a larger question about the potential of adopting sustainability criteria to drive innovation to minimise the building's parking requirement and leverage rainwater harvesting more effectively in this iconic government building.
Let no morsel go waste
Given the unpredictability of monsoon, Indian agriculture is on shaky ground ("Pray before you sow", July 1-15, 2014). The failure of monsoon will lead to loss of productivity and inflation, cutting down of exports and increased import of food commodities. We need to avoid overconsumption and wastage of food. Every time we waste a morsel, we should think about the hard work put in by our farmers.