Home into low-maintenance eco-friendly options
The Financial Express – New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh
7th January, 2007
Eco-friendly homes with energy efficient doors and windows, herbal gardens, rainwater harvesting and solar heating are now as fashionable as they are affordable
It’s a tag that is increasingly becoming fashionable with builders and architects. But ever figured out what really makes a home eco-friendly? And what do builders/architects say about the increasing use of this label? The use of locally available materials in construction of a house that makes it eco-friendly, and ideally eco-friendly homes cannot be high-rise buildings: in an ideal scenario they would be low-rise buildings, with just a floor above the ground.
Eco-friendly concept requires “appropriate sustainable architecture,” says Benny M Thankachan, director, projects management, Good Earth Estates and House of Consultants. The building and the people living there need to believe in the harmony of land and nature, and make it practical. High-energy efficiency and low maintenance will be ideal for such homes. Natural resources, such as sunlight, should be used to cut down on the use of electricity. Windows should be located at strategic places to enable sunlight in to save energy.
Rainwater harvesting, solar water heating systems and sewage treatment plants are being promoted by builders in most of their projects. Unitech’s Espace, promises independent villas with meditation gardens, spa club, yoga atrium and a steam room. Alpha G:Corp’s Gurgaon One offers eco-friendly water management and waste management. GurgaonOne has energy efficient windows, building materials, the climate control systems are custom made by Toyotomi climate control, well-known for their compact, efficient and air pollution reducing systems. “The eco-systems at GurgaonOne were incorporated in the design specs of the complex by the architects, ARCOP and there have been due evaluations by them at every stage of construction to ensure 100% sustainability and efficiency of all systems. ARCOP are also architects of other ‘ahead of their times’ landmark complexes like Laburnum and Garden Estate,” elaborated Alpha G:Corp’s MD, Colonel RS Sodhi.
Says Sunit Sachar, vice president, Parsvnath Developers Ltd: “Parsvnath Developers has projects that are environment friendly. Most of our projects have facilities of water harvesting, while all projects enjoy extensive green cover (upto 84%). The homes are designed with care to have excellent space efficiency and have natural lighting and ventilation apart from permanent exteriors. We also want to use solar energy to conserve electricity and for water heating. We are, however, designing buildings that conserve energy and reduce power consumption.”
Asset Home in Kerala launched nine mega projects estimated at Rs 125 crore for constructing 403 flats, 55 villas and 42 Close Relation Groups homes in Kerala. Asset Homes director K A Mohammed Saleem elaborates that the flats, which will be constructed in and around Kochi (priced between Rs 15-85 lakh) are eco-friendly with “modern waste-management systems, rain water storage, water recycling systems, herbal garden, green space and three-lane jogging track.”
Total Environment in Bangalore also has eco-friendly apartments complete with maintenance-free exteriors, rubberwood doors, windows and interiors, each apartment has a garden and the apartments are landscaped. Chandrashekar Hariharan, director of Biodiversity Conservation India Ltd, elaborates that T-Zed’s green homes will rewrite “rules of building homes”. Green homes according to Hariharan are affordable and sustainable. T-Zed homes will recycle the waste they generate and harvest their own water, have built-in refrigerators which rely on a centralised refrigeration facility, air-conditioners use water as a refrigerant, solar water heaters with cluster-based servicing and backed up by low wattage heating elements; built-in energy efficient lights; recycled grey water for flushing; fresh organic vegetables grown within the campus and gas banks on each floor to eliminate the presence of gas cylinders inside the homes. Hariharam even claims that the floors are made of natural Kadapa stone, while wood would necessarily be of plantation variety such as rubber, casuarinas, pine and eucalyptus.
Eco-friendly homes are not just money-saving, but even have an aesthetic beauty. Architect Laurie Baker started off the green architecture, which keep houses cool in summer, warm in winter, recycle water, and harness sunlight. Green architecture is known to cut overall construction costs by close to 25%. Most eco-friendly constructions also save valuable time.
Rainwater harvesting that maximises rainwater use is a must for green homes, wherein a 5,000 sq ft roof can collect and save at least 7,50,000 litres of water annually.
Wood substitutes made from agricultural/jute/plastic wastes such as Eco-Wud etc, are used wherever possible. The Pune-based SRK Group’s plush, Rs 200 crore eco-friendly apartments project — Sky Wings Luxury apartments will even have hanging gardens in every floor, elaborates K Rasheed Malik, CMD. The group has lots of eco-friendly projects in Pune and Bangalore and are foraying into Kerala. Brigade Group in Bangalore insists they are the first to incorporate eco-friendly measures like rainwater harvesting and waste recycling systems. In eastern India, in Rajarhat, Vedic Village is a eco-friendly complex surrounded by a lake, cycling and jogging tracks and organic farmlands.
According to Teri (The Energy Research Institute), which has been working for 30 years in the field of energy sustainable building technologies, using energy efficient measures emissions can be reduced by 40%. In their experiment with CII-Godrej Green Business Council, Ahmedabad, they were able to effect 35% savings in energy.
Will eco-friendly homes work? Given that they are “affordable, time-saving options and some of the material is also available in India, there is a demand for such homes. There are individuals also who want their homes to be eco-friendly. Naturally it is a new concept, but one that will find takers,”feels architect Mohit Gujral.