5 steps to a green home
Sustainable buildings are the need of the hour as environment and health concerns increase because of higher levels of pollution and energy consumption. Greater sensitivity to environment impact of buildings has also become more relevant, particularly in the urban areas.
A green building is “a structure designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resourceefficient manner. These buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health, using energy, water and other resources more efficiently and reducing the overall impact on the environment during construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition. It is a comprehensive method of construction that allows individual consumer fewer resources and has a smaller impact on earth. A green building uses less energy, water and virgin materials while construction waste and the presence of toxic products are minimised or eliminated,” says Dr Sanjay Kumar Sharma, head, civil engineering department, National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), Chandigarh.
For a sustainable home, one should “focus on site development, material efficiency, water conservation, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and occupants,” says Sharma.
selection: Choosing the right site for a house or a project is the first step. “Proper site development ensures best possible use of natural and manufactured amenities. It is the first step in the design process,” says Himmi Gupta, assistant professor, NITTTR, Chandigarh.
efficiency: Can be achieved through active features like use of renewable sources such as solar, wind, etc. Also, passive features – “thick walls, high ceilings, ventilators, skylights, tall tees, necessity of parapet, balconies, verandas, cavity walls, etc can be also be used in the design and construction process for greater energy savings,” says Sharma. The tricity is in the composite climatic region which is characterised by very hot and dry summer, followed by a humid season with monsoon rains. “Buildings should resist heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter,” says Bahga. A home owner can incorporate these elements in the design of the house, “orient the buildings with
longer axis in the east-west direction; ensure adequate shading on the south side; avoid externally reflected light from ground and other surfaces; prefer internally reflected light using light shelves or windows at a high level. Roof insulation, wall insulation and cavity walls must be chosen.
“Includes using recycled building materials together with natural elements in the whole building. One should also repurpose previously used materials like wood planks, blocks, doors, support beams, etc,” says Gupta.
efficiency: For minimum wastage and optimisation of water use, one can use dual plumbing, ultra low-flush toilets, low flow shower heads; use recirculating systems for centralised hot water distribution; etc.
air quality (IAQ):
It refers to the air quality in relation to the health and comfort of building occupants. “Source removal, modification or substitution, ventilation, air cleaning, structural barriers are some of the methods that can be employed by a home owner for improving IAQ,” says Sharma.