Sustainable Business – The Genesis lies in understanding the basics of livelihood.

17 Nov

Modern society is disconnecting from Nature. Where the processed has become more important than the produce, chances of building a Smart society, which is essential step towards building a Smart City, is difficult.

And by not building towards a Smart City the Modern Business Houses are heading more and more towards extinction, due to acute resource depletion which is already manifest in certain sectors.While the top of the ladder corporate, either by omission or commission are realizing the benefits of Sustainable Business practice. The mindset of the modern manager is too stuffed in old style economics to understand the changes in the ground rules for making a perfect profit making business.

We need Business to evolve or it would perish as is the Darwinian law.

The reason for this is our mindset; we love to remain within familiar comfort zones. Essentially we are still an Agrarian Society, although we have wrapped ourselves in the modern avatar of an industrialized state.

FOOD – CLOTH – SHELTER are the three main things around which all the modern societies revolve. Everything modern human does is essentially to satisfy the three fundamental needs highlighted. The birth of Industrial revolution or modern business as we know today was essentially to speed up and increase in production of the three basic needs of human. And the final goal of Business even now is to attain just these three things. Therefore the word “business-man can be replaced by “human”.

We invented the modern mills which could churn more flour from the wheat, to provide for the ever growing population of human. To produce more wheat which is primarily the ingredient for flour, one needed to have better harvesting and tilling method; thus grew an industry which starting producing the basic tools. To have more tools in the hands of farmers, one needed more Metal Ore to be mined and to mine more efficiently an industry spawned to cater to that need.

As the demand and supply graph multiplied so did the specialization in the fields, which slowly drifted so far apart that the basic….the farmlands became far and distant from the precincts of modern Industry.

For Representation Purpose only.

The fruits now grow on a super-market shelf. That is the notion many a modern child, never having seen a mango tree, carry. Haute couture usually showcases the most non-wearable clothing. But is a billion dollar industry!

Building no more reflects the spirit of human triumph over nature’s vagaries, to provide comfort & safety and most importantly a home to live in. But as a reflection of the human ego. So, we built tall buildings, shrouded in Glass & Steel, with no thought to the vernacular design & climatic conditions.

When there is so much disconnect from the original needs of a vibrant and organic society. How could we have not ruptured the skin of sustainability? Global Warming and Climate Change are nothing but by-products of unsustainable living. But, the World today can see the dangers, which manifests itself with increasing intensity & periodicity of storms and unpredictable drought & flood cycle.

And how does it affect Business?

“What we’re finding all over the world is that when people are having trouble with the weather, it affects food and income,” said Koko Warner, an expert on environmental migration based at the United Nations University. Climate change doesn’t just mean stronger typhoons. It also means sea-level rise, desertification, unpredictability of rain for crops, drought and other problems that tend to result in fewer news reports than a crushing storm like Haiyan. Many of the resulting losses are difficult to categorize and count in terms of money. It’s the emotional burden of leaving a family grave behind, of moving from ancestral lands, of kids giving up the ability to go to school. But global financial losses, even just those tabulated from major disasters, have also been rising through the last few decades. Annual estimates are now at just under $200 billion (€146 billion), according to a report released by the World Bank . That’s up from about $50 billion each year through the 1980s. (Excerpts from – Warsaw Mechanism: A Move Forward in Climate Change Debate; Der Spiegel. November 27, 2013) The above paragraphs sum up beautifully the moot reason as to why Business must adopt the sustainable approach. The Building & Construction Sector is perhaps the single largest sector which is the consumer of almost all the Industrial sector known to modern business. Be it Agri-product, Minerals, Forest or Animal Husbandry, Iron & Steel, Cement or Textile, Chemical & Fertilizers some or other form of the product is utilized in the building industry. And many buildings built within the same geographical area is called – A City.

Which also houses the Business Barons.

Thus, if we take care of a city and make them Climate Resilient. We would be able to change the mind-set of the people, which in turn would make the world believe in Sustainable Business a bit more.

So how does one approach this? As per The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, below are some interesting thoughts –


The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements: Residential buildings — housing the population; and Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment. The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:

1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials] 2. The mix of fuels used; 3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and 4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through: 1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings; 2. Greater use of natural light; 3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration; 4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible; 5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use; 6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation. 7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by: 1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles; 2. Use of natural ventilation where possible; 3. The use of more efficient office appliances; 4. Better insulation; 5. Improved heating and ventilation; 6. The use of efficient light fixtures; 7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems;

There are already many consultancy firms which are advising on energy efficiency. The one which are on the top of the ladder are doing the following three elements: 1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient.

2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources.

3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings.

And those which excel in the above are also taking up the challenge of creating a low water use facility. As without water there is no food and thus no life.

The IPCC – the United Nations Body which is headed by Dr. Pachauri and is under the UNFCCC has warned that unless we are able to completely abolish use of fossil fuel for generation of electricity the world would be facing much more severe storms, the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Hudhud, devastating Nations economy and putting enormous strain in its recovery.

Innovations for smart cities are already happening all around the World. From creating Solar Roads, as indicated in the image to having tiles which produce their own power when one steps on it are already ready for commercial applications. It is opening up new job opportunities and at the same time instilling the practice of clean living.

Real Project

The world is waking up to the fact that we have to create Sustainable Business.

And in order to achieve that India too must join with its resource pool of young and brilliant minds. Lest the opportunity, to become an advanced and progressive Business Nation is lost. While innovative products are good and it would be some time for them to become main-stream. India has the unique distinction of already possessing the vernacular knowledge of building with an extremely low carbon-foot print. A visit to any turn of the century residence would prove that.

Add to that the restless energy of the young entrepreneurs, who are willing to take the risk of bucking the conventional business model, while at the same time ushering in the high-technology Renewable Energy at the door steps of common persons.

The idea is to provide Roof-top solar at zero capital cost to the end-user while the recovery of the investments comes via the novel way of collecting the electrical tariff, over a period of time. As all are used to pay their electricity bills every month, the idea to have solar power which in time would become free of cost to the user is finding traction. Especially in areas where the traditional grid power is inconsistent leading to the use of diesel generators, which spikes the electrical tariff to an astronomical ₹ -15 to 20 /KW unit.

As in every solution there are challenges. Captive Renewable Energy, especially Solar & Wind require certain amount of conducive space and geography to perform optimally. Many commercial business such as Hospitals, Hotels & Resorts, Malls & Multiplex, while willing to utilize the RE in BOOT model; find that the generation compared to demand is wanting. Because of lack of roof-top space.

Here too the pioneers have met the challenge head-on, by providing Energy Efficient Measures to the existing or upcoming building within the matrix of a Green Building ie; by working with Architects and Interior designers who not only concentrate on the aesthetic appeal of a building but have the knowledge of how to utilize daylight controls and energy modeling measures to synchronize with the colour of the paint, or the colour of the light or even the reflective and absorption capacity of materials. Which ultimately adds up in a complex dance of synergy to either heat up or cool a room. By understanding this along with having deep knowledge of HVAC, building electrical & heat loads are optimized.

This in turn reduces the overall draw of electricity required, without any compromise to the functions of a modern living/working space. Today, coming up in a suburb of Bangalore; there are more than 500 residence comprising of 300o ft2 to 5000 ft2 bungalows which could aim to be completely off-grid both in terms of water and electricity. A perfect 4.5KW connected load with innovative roof-top and “Solar Tree” which also act as street lights would be powering the township. While 5 layer water harvesting system would eliminate any need for municipal water to the colony. A good spell of normal monsoon season would suffice. Smart Cities are the final frontiers for new business. We must all strive to achieve this. A perfect blend of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations –

Profit – People – Planet.


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