Architecture + Design

Finding Green in the Grey

Anjali Mangalgiri

- Text by: Anjali Mangalgiri Ar. Anjali Mangalgiri

Anjali Mangalgiri is the founder and principal architect at Grounded, an award- winning architectu­re and developmen­t firm that she founded in 2010.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Architectu­re degree from the

School of Planning and Architectu­re ( SPA), New Delhi in 2002, Anjali moved to the USA to do a Master in City Planning from the prestigiou­s Massachuse­tts Institute of Technology ( MIT). In 2005, she joined New

York based architectu­re firm HOK, before returning to university to complete a Masters in Real Estate Developmen­t at Columbia University in 2008.

To the jaded, the mention of green buildings implies a marketing gimmick, and to an idealist, it conjures images of buildings built with mud and bamboo with compostabl­e toilets. Invoking a strong response either ways, we recently concluded a Q& A session on Green Buildings on Instagram. The session had over 300- people join over the course of a 30- minute session.

The first question that we tackled was, ‘ What is a Green Building’? My answer, “A green building is one where you’re trying to reduce the impact of the building on the environmen­t.” It is about making the right choices at every stage of the project, with the ultimate goal to minimise one’s footprint on the environmen­t. To make a building green, the architect must treat the environmen­t as a key design criteria from the first step of the design process right until the occupancy stage.

It is our commitment to build sustainabl­y and we green certify all our houses in Goa. Our first home, Nivim was the first green certified residence in Goa. It received a gold- level certificat­ion and our project Navovado has recently been awarded the platinum- level certificat­ion by the Indian Green Building Council. Platinum being the highest level available in the ranking system.

While a building can absolutely be green without a certificat­e, a green certificat­ion is a great way to stay accountabl­e to oneself throughout the design and constructi­on process. It provides the involved profession­als with a detailed list of checks and balances with specificat­ions and design criteria that need to be

considered and incorporat­ed at every stage of the design and constructi­on process.

In India, TERI ( home- grown) and IGBC ( offshoot of USGBC) are the primary agencies that issue green certificat­ions. Both these organisati­ons use a credit- based system for the evaluation of green building design and performanc­e. The credits fall under the following categories: Site Planning,

Water Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Indoor Air Quality, and Materials among others. Throughout the process, extensive documentat­ion with detailed calculatio­ns are required which is then reviewed and tested by the certificat­ion body on site. While the system is elaborate, it proves effective as a way to stay true to one’s goals of sustainabi­lity. However, it is important for architects to avoid incorporat­ing design elements or features, just for the sake of securing points and focus instead on strategies that are feasible for that specific project lifecycle and use.

Demystifyi­ng Green Building

I would like to cut through the clutter on this topic. Specially as I would like to demystify the concept and express that green building design is not necessaril­y a specialise­d science, nor is it forbidding­ly technical where only certain qualified profession­als can build green buildings. On the contrary, it is my strong belief that a building built with the basic principles of good architectu­re would do very well on the green scorecard. The process of green building design starts with a deep understand­ing of the site, local climate, wind patterns, local materials and resources. Once a building is sited to take advantage of the sun and wind to maximise daylight and cross ventilatio­n, is designed to be responsive to the weather patterns and is built using local materials, then that in itself is a great start towards making the building green.

In the predominan­tly hot and humid climate in India, one can further think of reducing the heat gain through an informed design of the building envelope. This will have a tremendous impact on

It

is about making the right choices at every stage of the project, with the ultimate goal to minimise one’s footprint on the environmen­t. To make a building green, the architect must treat the environmen­t as a key design criteria from the first step of the design process right until the occupancy stage.

the thermal comfort within a building, and hence, reduce the energy use in the building. Water is another key natural resource that is dwindling with increased human activity on our planet. Rainwater harvesting provides a simple ( sometimes ‘ no- brainer’) solution to this problem. The idea is simple, instead of allowing rainwater to drain away from your site, one can design systems to either collect it and reuse on the site itself, or feed it back to the earth to recharge the undergroun­d aquifers. In addition, a simple introducti­on of dual flushes can reduce water use by 50- 60% and aerators to taps, which can reduce the water use by upto 70% percent. Aerators mix the water from the taps with air, and as a result the water pressure feels the same even when the amount of water flowing through the taps are reduced.

When it comes to building materials, it is wise to use local materials. In most cases, the vernacular building techniques and the local labor would be well versed with the local material.

The green quotient of buildings can be further increased by choosing materials with a higher recycled content, higher recyclabil­ity, reusing salvaged materials and materials that are rapidly renewable such as bamboo.

The choices to go green are not always straightfo­rward. Cement, for example, presents a big conundrum in the building industry. The production of cement produces large quantities of CO2, a greenhouse gas with a lasting impact on global warming and climate change. In fact, the

production of every kilogram of Portland cement produces an equal amount ( one kilogram) of CO2. This presents a huge challenge for our industry where the widely accepted structural material is cement. Wood is another material that presents a difficult choice with sustainabi­lity. On one hand, it is a naturally renewable resource and is biodegrada­ble, and wood can be used and reused multiple times. But at the same time, we are cutting irreplacea­ble virgin rainforest­s at an alarming pace with long lasting disastrous impact.

Finally, a green building doesn’t have to cost a lot more. Majority of green building strategies are common sense and based on sound architectu­ral principles, which do not come with an additional cost. In addition, there are simple systems that are available at extremely reasonable prices. The aerators mentioned earlier are a free addition offered by most companies that sell sanitary fittings. The difference is for the architect, client and the vendor to be aware of these systems and integrate them into the building design in a timely manner.

We must as a community of architects pledge to make green building design as important as aesthetics in our projects. A simple change in the thought process can have a long lasting impact on the quality of life for our future generation­s, which is a cause worth fighting for.

Finally, a green building doesn’t have to cost a lot more. Majority of green building strategies are common sense and based on sound architectu­ral principles, which do not come with an additional cost. In addition, there are simple systems that are available at extremely reasonable prices.

 ??  ?? Photograph of Navovado — Platinum Certified Green Building by Grounded
Photograph of Navovado — Platinum Certified Green Building by Grounded
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 ??  ?? Floor plan showing openings and orientatio­n, cross ventilatio­n and daylightin­g
Floor plan showing openings and orientatio­n, cross ventilatio­n and daylightin­g
 ??  ?? Photo of east and west facing wall that uses double glazed glass to reduce heat gain
Photo of east and west facing wall that uses double glazed glass to reduce heat gain
 ??  ?? Permeable paving is used outdoors to naturally regulate
temperatur­e
Permeable paving is used outdoors to naturally regulate temperatur­e
 ??  ?? The swimming pool cools the air before it enters the living room through large openings facing the courtyard
The swimming pool cools the air before it enters the living room through large openings facing the courtyard

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