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Category Archives: Energy Efficient Buildings

Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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Kerala – Gods own Country ?


The 11th Kerala Environment Congress (KEC 2015) will be held at Kottayam, from 6th to 8th May, 2015.

The focal theme of this year’s Congress is “Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Climate change has now emerged as the biggest developmental challenge for the planet. The IPCC 5th Assessment Report, has clearly mentioned that the warming trends and increasing temperature extremes have been observed across most of the world over the past century. The report has provided compelling evidence that climate change is advancing rapidly as a global risk with impacts far beyond just the environment. Even though the climate change is affecting various development sectors, there is also scope for reducing emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity through wise use of resources. The KEC 2015 will be a thought provoking process in this direction, with the participation of people from all walks of life like scientists, researchers, policy makers, development managers, NGOs, media etc. The Congress will also identify the research and policy needs for developing viable programs to address climate change issues in the ongoing development process in India with particular reference to the State of Kerala.

  • Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Security
  • Climate Change and Water Security
  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Climate Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity
  • Climate Change, Habitat and Urbanization
  • Climate Change and Health
  • Climate Change and Coastal and Marine Resources
  • Climate Change and Transport
  • Climate Change and Disaster Management
  • Climate Change and Buildings
  • Climate Change and Tourism
  • Climate Change and Plantations
  • Climate Change and Industries
  • Climate Change and Weather extremes
  • Climate Change Education and Communication
  • Climate Change, Legal and Policy Aspects

Among the various topics on which Scientist would be presenting their papers the following above topics would be covered.

It’s estimated that in Kerala, forest is cleared at a rate of 60 to 100 sq km per year.  Several hundred species of trees, herbs and climbers are either endangered or vulnerable to extinction. 

Deforestation inevitably leads to loss in rainfall and attempts at reforestation have largely been ineffective due to the introduction of inappropriate species such as eucalyptus and acacia, which hinder rather than restore ecological balance. The famous backwaters are not immune to environmental damage.  The degradation in the mountains has resulted in rivers polluted by silt and industrial effluent also takes its toll; killing fish and presenting significant health risks.  Many wells have become waste tips, causing serious ground water pollution and leading to an inadequate supply of clean drinking water. The assessment of river such as Chalakudy, Periyar, Muvattupuzha, Meenachil, Pamba and Achenkovil indicates that the major quality problem is due to bacteriological pollution. The ground water quality problems in the coastal areas are mainly because of the presence of excess chloride.The chloride concentration >250mb/l was detected in the well water samples of Azhicode, Kakkathuruthy, Edathinjil, Kadalundi, Chellanum, Nallalam, Mankombu and Haripad. in Alappuzha district, flouride concentration in the pumbing wells was observed to be high.Open well of Kerala are under threat of bacteriological contamination.In Kerala about 60% of the population relies on ground water for drinking.At the same time studies have shown that faecal contamination is present in 90% of drinking water wells.

Coastal erosion is altering the seashore landscape and putting populations at risk. Over fishing, with the introduction of trawler fishing in the 1950s, is affecting the economy and health of the local fishing community. Kerala is one among the most thickly populated region in the world and the population is increasing at a rate of 14% per decade.As a result of the measures to satisfy the needs of the huge population,the rivers of Kerala have been increasingly polluted from the industrial and domestic waste and from the pesticides and fertilizer in agriculture.Industries discharge hazardous pollutants like phosphates, sulphides, ammonia, fluorides, heavy metals and insecticides into the downstream reaches of the river.The river periyar and chaliyar are very good examples for the pollution due to industrial effluents. it is estimated that nearly 260 million litres of trade effluents reach the Periyar estuary daily from the Kochi industrial belt

[Courtesy: Centre for Environment & Development; ENVIS-Kerala;Viswadarsanam;]

As one can read on the start of the article. We are having the 11th Kerala Environment Congress. That means the problems and issues which have been raise in the above paragraphs have been flagged as many as 11 times over!

How many chances would a boss give to his employee. A Father to his Son, to correct an error? Yet we keep mum on the abuses we have been meting to our Mother Earth.

The many of the problems and issues which Kerala is facing today would perhaps be very soon taking away the title of – God’s Own Country and make it..

God’s Forsaken Country ! Unless we make the changes Now !

And the changes must reflect in the life-style of the people of Kerala. Unless the Civic changes happen in the physiological level of the populace mere reports and laws would just not be adequate to improve the disasters which are soon to manifest in a much larger scale than presently perceived.

Water, Energy, Ecosystems and Biodiversity are affected directly by the way we create our Habitat.

Haphazard Urbanization of sleepy villages, with copy-cat Buildings as designed in the West and Middle East which are not Climate Responsive in the vernacular context, compounded by setting up of Industries; in hereto Agricultural and Forest lands makes Disaster Management during Weather Extremes a severe challenge. Due to weak implementation of Education & Communication skills there lack of understanding of Legal and Policy Aspects. The continued failings of which would impact the Tourism Industry, Marine and Coastal Ecosystem and most importantly on Agriculture and Food Production!

Food is the primary source of Energy for Human. Without Energy life can’t exist. So let us probe into the ways we can tap into creating of Energy – Electrical & Mechanical; which is the primary driver of  civil development while maintaining the ecological balance to have the perennial source of food with is a life source !

Kerala is blessed with a few unique backwater system, which makes it a prime area to use the latent energy this has. That is micro-hydle systems. But we shall come to this later as there would be challenges to this. Moreover we need to stitch together a basket of solution to arrive at an optimum solution by inclusion of Wind and Solar!

Let us therefore explore through data that is available from various sources and start with the least used one –Geothermal

Estimation of geothermal gradients and heat flow from Bottom Simulating Reflector along the Kerala–Konkan basin of Western Continental Margin of India ( by Uma Shankar, N. K. Thakur* and S. I. Reddi of National Geophysical Research Institute, can be read here).

Geothermal power plants operated in at least 24 countries in 2010, and geothermal energy was used directly for heat in at least 78 countries. These countries currently have geothermal power plants with a total capacity of 10.7 GW, but 88% of it is generated in just seven countries: the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, and Iceland. The most significant capacity increases since 2004 were seen in Iceland and Turkey. Both countries doubled their capacity. Iceland has the largest share of geothermal power contributing to electricity supply (25%), followed by the Philippines (18%).  ….

India has reasonably good potential for geothermal; the potential geothermal provinces can produce 10,600 MW of power (but experts are confident only to the extent of 100 MW). But yet geothermal power projects has not been exploited at all, owing to a variety of reasons, the chief being the availability of plentiful coal at cheap costs. However, with increasing environmental problems with coal based projects, India will need to start depending on clean and eco-friendly energy sources in future; one of which could be geothermal. – (See more at: http://www.eai.in/ref/ae/geo/geo.html#sthash.8nD3nsKp.dpuf )

The Costs of a geothermal plant are heavily weighted toward early expenses, rather than fuel to keep them running. Well drilling and pipeline construction occur first, followed by resource analysis of the drilling information. Next is design of the actual plant. Power plant construction is usually completed concurrent with final field development. The initial cost for the field and power plant is around $2500 per installed kW in the U.S., probably $3000 to $5000/kWe for a small (<1Mwe) power plant. Operating and maintenance costs range from $0.01 to $0.03 per kWh. Most geothermal power plants can run at greater than 90% availability (i.e., producing more than 90% of the time), but running at 97% or 98% can increase maintenance costs. Higher-priced electricity justifies running the plant 98% of the time because the resulting higher maintenance costs are recovered. – (See more at: http://www.eai.in/club/users/shankar/blogs/649#sthash.D6y8VkTr.dpuf)

Next, let’s look at Micro-Hydle-

A study sponsored by the Science, Technology and Environment Department (STED) and conducted by the Centre for Rural Management (CRM) has found that a whopping 870 households in the district are served by micro-hydel projects. The study also brings out some interesting features of this unique initiative as also underscores the need to develop a support base to improve the efficiency and efficacy of these units. A typical micro-hydel project consists of a source of water, often a stream, or a storage tank or a check-dam made of either jungle stone or concrete, a plastic or PVC flexible hosepipe and a rewound bike or cycle dynamo which acts as the generating system. The average installed capacity of the large majority of them remains below 150 Watts an hour. This is enough to meet the lighting needs and also for operating a radio, tape recorder or television set. Nearly half of these units provide power to the consumers for 12 hours a day and one-fourth of them ensure round-the-clock power supply. Moreover, 52 per cent of these units provide round-the-year power supply. (read more)

While Solar and Wind have already stabilized in the state, what is required is that the Building industry adopts Renewable Energy in toto. The method should governed by sound scientific advice which should be the guiding principle of framing the Development Control Rules of each zone in the Urban planning.

What is true for the Goose may not be for the Gander. Thus when market forces especially the copy cats with baser understanding solicit business within the RE basket; in their enthusiasm, they spoil the market for serious players either by under delivery or corruption in methods. The problem is further compounded when “hobby builders” {a one-time player, usually with lot of disposable money and zero discipline; usually plays a spoiler for developers} with zero scientific understanding opt for L1 (lowest one) all products. As the specifications of such products do not and can’t match the originals; they fail.

This not only leaves Kerala with badly designed buildings, with ugly façade completely in contrast to its serene backwater surrounding; but also energy intensive with falling products over-time. The common man, un-schooled in the methods and confused with the constant pull of identifying more to an imported Western Culture than the sound vernacular life-style are ending up as the final looser in the game.

And the biggest loss is to Sustainable Energy methods. Which could be very well possible if laws are legislated to utilize hybrid RE solutions with sound building materials and design.

 

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Green Business Idea – A sustainable guide for Retail to win against E-retail in India.


A long time ago, people in want of grocery or clothing used to go to a designated date in an open ground where merchants gathered – it was termed as “Haat”.

Image of Dilli Haat – New Delhi

While the name “Dilli Haat”, is derived from the same concept; its open nearly every-day thus “shops” as we know them evolved over time.

Even today, in the dusty by-lanes of sleepy mofussil towns & villages, where cultures haven’t changed much since the East India Company days; the shops close for the afternoon siesta and are open but just about 2 hours post sundown. These shops are usually day-lit and most having been designed in vernacular style don’t usually require a fan. Although you would now-a-days invariably find one hanging from the central beam. Immobile as there is usually no electricity to run it. More so in peak summer afternoons.

As all the power that is being generated by the creaking Coal fired Thermal plants in India can’t cope of with the demand the swanky malls require to keep their air-conditioners humming. And the spot lights which is tactically angled with precision to highlight the wares in the hundreds of designer shops within the malls.

But as the saying goes, Time is constantly changing and for all that glitter and glamour the large retails brought in, along with the ease of shopping. It left in its wake a huge carbon foot-print. With the angst of Climate Change being felt around the World the buyers to have begun to discern. Helped by the ease of shopping online and keeping one self far away from the madding crowd has certainly helped boost the E-Retail.

And with some serious high net worth individuals with great social standing and industrial acumen investing in some of the stellar performers, E-Retail is here to stay.

This gives some serious competition to the standard brick and mortar companies. This Diwali there were complaints galore, spread over every newspaper worth its name.

And just as the Newspapers, not very long ago felt the threat of extinction from Televised News; till they evolved and adapted, whilst some perished no doubt. The Brick & Mortar Retail can become competitive if they too wake up and think differently.

Example of Mall Interior. Courtesy -tomsherrillillustrations

All they need to do is build an Energy Efficient Building (EEB) or those who only take up space within a building work towards Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM). EEM’s can be applied to existing buildings and if the management wants it, can register themselves with LEED or IGBC certification. And get a Green Building Certificate. Thus becoming world renowned.

It is a simple Green Business Idea, which would once more prove that Sustainability is the Key. And while the economic pundits, may read you many passages in sustainability, its Ecology which is the master of the game. Thus the more natural the design and function the more sustainable the Retail space will be.

There are various ways to deal with it. In the first instance, the Retail chain could hire professional Interior Designer or Architects who have been long practicing sustainable design. These people would perhaps not have the past experience in designing retail; not because they could not but because they chose not to. As modern retail, focuses more on other aspects, rather than true sustainable architectural design.

This does not deride the ones who do. But the designers, while having wanted to make a form which would follow function in its true sense; are often forced to work on perceptions which have been engrained in the client’s physique.

One just needs to visit one mall and hop to the next. They all look and feel the same. This over time becomes norm in design. Although the better managed, while being energy guzzlers are efficient in many ways, the copy cats typically cut corners and make a mess of things.

The Retail stores work with very thin margin of profits.

Now with the roaring success of E-retail, there is simply no more lee-way with the retail stores to cut corners and yet maintain their competitive edge.

But by designing sensibly or demanding a sensible and energy efficient design of the rental space, they can turn the tide to their favour.

There are many ways to achieve these, both for new as well as retro-fits.

It can be achieved by having a better lighting approach. If one could work with day-light and maximize its usage during the morning business hours then the following difference would be felt. We all know that light produces heat and it is this heat which the air conditioners first need to cool before the space gets conditioned to the desired coolth. That means the air-conditioners need to work more to get the same amount of cooling which translates to higher energy bills. Add to that the operation and maintenance cost of the lights and the compressor/filters of the air conditioner which is running extra.

There are ways and means to provide sunlight to every square foot of basement, 3 stories below. So providing the lighting into the stores and even blending with the desired interiors is not so serious a challenge for those who know how.

The woe gets multiplied in towns and cities where a diesel generator feeds the required electricity. The average unit bill shoots to ₹16/unit when we generate electricity from captive generators running on diesel.

We can today not only infuse sunlight to take care of the lighting needs but also almost eliminate the use of diesel in generators by using alternative technology to fuel it. In-fact the fuel can be produced on the spot out of thin air, the technology is in progress while fuel cells are already becoming a practice.

The Earth and Sun are the final source of energy. And its abundance is infinite. One can in a green-field or existing retail property use Geo-thermal technology to power their air-conditioners and top it with Solar PV to completely disconnect form the grid, in certain cases.

Very few understand that one of the prime expenses in a retail food chain is the gas they use to prepare their food. This too can be completely eliminated or limited to negligible cost if one follows true EEM’s.

When we mention food, we must also mention the highly depleted resource, water. Something any retail would require, to use in cleaning of the show-window or preparing food to simple drinking.

Application of rain-water harvesting can help. But by using expert hydrologist as a consultant, instead of hiring a bore-well drilling company. As they can advise on how to eliminate the cost of drilling deep when water can be had at half the depth. The water source can become near perennial with one good seasonal rain, if proper rain water harvesting technique is applied. This combined with sensible storage and use of Solar Pumps can save huge operational costs.

And while it’s true that high-end technology adds to higher cost. But by designing and building wise this cost can be made viable. In fact a Green Building can at times provide a 20-20-20 saving. That is up to 20% in construction cost, operational cost and earning through voluntary carbon credits by reducing the Green House Gas emission is possible.

Today one can create a 5000 feet square, ground + 1 storied building in 12days and start inhabiting it. A huge cost is saved in the interest of the term-loan, which makes it a sensible decision to take. While at the same time the product that is used to build it eliminates or reduces traditional high-carbon emitting materials thus follows the true Clean Development Mechanism. This is so applauded at the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change. (UNFCCC)

One could also make one of the walls in translucent concrete, to let diffuse sunlight and eliminate dark passages, which thus reduces use of artificial lights. These measures pay back in record time. Thus making the effort viable.

There are also options available to have RESCO’s, renewable energy service companies who work with a select few sustainable design firm, who on being hired, invests in the capital cost of Solar PV, thus eliminating any initial capital expenditure. With the option to pay-back in a 20 year period.

These design firms are presently exploring options to find investors who would fund the complete plethora of EEM’s – Geothermal, Low E-Glazing, LED & Air-Conditioners too. This system already works in the USA.

In fact some have tied up with Avante-grade entrepreneurs in India, who have manufactured products such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, ceiling fans and tube-lights which run with a mere 2 Kilo-Watt of Direct Current (DC) instead of A/c thus complement their efforts on a RESCO model of design.

So with Solar PV on roof-top a small retail shop can become completely self-sufficient in energy. Even with a CAPEX cost the fast pay-back period these product have, the company would have zero energy cost in 5-7 years!

The most important take away from the above is that each individual becomes a stake holder in making India a business power house while keeping sustainability of the eco-system and thus by default ones’ own self and prosper.

It’s time for Retail to adopt and adapt to Green Business Ideas!

Sandeep Goswami

 

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Green Business Idea – River Transport within Mumbai & Smart City ideas !


The UN Secretary General, call for a meeting on the 23rd September, to understand what each Country would be doing, in his attempt to lift sagging morale of the environmentalists and continued disinterest of the World leaders for providing time bound doable agenda which would actually translate to abatement of Climate Change, needs all the support one can give.
To blame World Leaders would be wrong, simply because there are very few in the World arena today who have leadership quality. Had it not been so, Syria would not have had a blood bath from which spawned the ISIS. But, selling weapons of Mass Destruction is also good for the Economy. At least in the short-term. For some.

Almost all the industrial sectors are in some way related to and prosper from War! From Gold to Games all profit. Yes, games..almost everyone can take part on the near real episode of glory and gore, without actually dying!

Perhaps it would make a lot of sense if Countries could have a CGI war ! The losing side could have all its real money, converted to bit-con transferred to the winners. As the say, a failed economy is as good as a dead economy! At least the planet & people would remain untouched in the bargain.

But this sadly is not the case across the Middle East or South Europe! Add to that the deadly mix of Ebola and flood and drought!

As many climate change report have more or less predicted what anthropogenic Global Warming would bring about. Armageddon  is perhaps imminent in the near distant future !

So what if the UN Secretary General, provides the World Leaders with another option to boost economy other than oiling the war machine?

What about asking each world leader to adopt a developing or underdeveloped Nation’s city and help transform it into a Climate Resilient City. For the Building Industry too uses almost all the industrial goods and services as does the war machines. So here is another opportunity to boost the Economy and lift the sagging morale of the Environment brigade.

At least in India, they can immediately start on 100 of them !

Then look at the impacts of joining rivers! And cleaning the Ganga ! For in some parts the Ganga still lives. Are we sure we will not uproot an ecosystem, which may be a possibility if it needs to be navigable all the way?

Rivers of Mumbai

And while we are at it perhaps practice cleaning up the smaller rivers first which go from within the megalopolis, to gain first hand experience of which company will do the best?

Mumbai, therefore offers one of the best opportunity to showcase a Eco-friendly transport solution thus making it a  smart city from a sublime mess it is today!

At one stroke of a genius a politician can not only win the hearts and minds of the people for a longer time, but also ensure that the commercial city thanks it with continually filling it’s party coffers! (No politician worth his/her salt would touch anything which does not give for self-aggrandizement. Thus for the greater good so be it).

Let us look at the advantages and possibilities of cleaning up the rivers of Mumbai.

For starters lets count some of the rivers in Mumbai 1. Dahisar River a river in the northern suburbs of Mumbai near the suburb of Dahisar. It originates in the Tulsi Lake in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the northern reaches of the city.

2. River Mithi (also Mahim River) is a river in Salsette Island, on which the city of Mumbai is located. It is a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes.

3. Oshiwara River begins in the Aarey Milk Colony, cuts through the Goregaon hills, across the Aarey Milk Colony before emptying into the Malad Creek. On the way it is joined by another creek near S.V. Road.

4.Poisar River begins in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and empties into the Marve Creek and finally into the Arabian Sea.

The Polluted & Choked Rivers of Mumbai

The Dahisar River was once so picturesque that Hindi films were shot here. During 1956-57, crocodiles were witnessed to be residing the river, thus proving that it could harbor life and had a perfectly balanced ecosystem.

The rivers are nothing more than a mere stream when it begins and is contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage.

What we see in Mumbai is more or less happening all over the country and even the world. Rivers are dying. And we all know that great cities around the world are mostly near river banks.

But when I look at the Mega Urbanized Mumbai, which perhaps has all the failures of modern human habitation; I can also find rivers & lakes and a  forest reserve, which overlooks the sea! An extremely rare and perhaps unique combination of diverse ecosystem within a small geographical area.

This is indeed a city worth saving and transforming into a model from were others can learn and follow. How to coexist !

And to transform this city we need a Green Business Idea. After all it is the business hub of India with a sizable Gurjati population, who too can lay claim that business is in their blood just as our P.M Mr. Narendra Modi !

The blue print for it is already there. What we must is implementation in the shortest possible time. And add to it the concept of river navigation. From a quarter away from the point of origin, to keep it safe and more pristine, let water transport begin. With boats which are designed with roof-top Solar to power it.

There would be an immediate appreciation of real estate around the banks of the river, and as stringent laws would apply for better discharge of residential waste water (with complete ban on industrial discharge; or with super efficient affluent treatment); redevelopment, of projects would take place.

The economy would naturally take a boost. By utilizing its rivers for transport. Just as the suburban railways or the Metro which is its new addition. One look at the origin and exit of Mumbai Rivers in the map given, completely proves the feasibility of such a venture.

While the river cleaning action and the operating of ferry would also boost many business, at the same time stringent actions can be taken for CRZ ( Costal Regulation Zone ) violations. One of the moot reasons for CRZ violations is rooted in the concept of having a home facing the water-front! Be it anywhere in the World, a sea or river facing property always fetches a premium. So would all the future properties along the banks of the rivers of Mumbai.

I say future, because the current batch of buildings which are being designed need a serious overhaul and we must build Energy Efficient Buildings which would be Climate Responsive and at the same-time vernacular in design, thus blend form and functionality.

Malabar Hill, Mumbai in 1900’s

Imagine a stretch of real estate, about half a mile deep on both the banks of all the Mumbai rivers, which gives the citizens a feel of living in Goa. Yes! the climate and the feel of Mumbai of the Koli’s must have been pretty much like the holiday paradise.

The average productivity of each Mumbaikar would increase many-fold. Life-style related disease would reduce and pollution would be brought down. With efficient river transport coupled with the already existing suburban rail and metro network, the need for passenger cars would reduce thus leading to de-congested roads.

The areas around the length of the river would have several parks and open spaces which would once again become the natural catchment areas and soak up the rain to create higher underground water table, thus keeping the sea away. And also reduce the potable water crunch Mumbai faces every summer. And if the dredging improves the flow of water current; electricity too can be generated through micro-hydle mechanism. Thus a river alive today would have multiple use to business. While remaining sustainable.

And this idea would resonates so well with the World Bank thinking. As in World Water Week (August 31-September 5), the World Bank has warned that the world’s present ways of producing energy and providing clean water are currently on a collision course.

World Water Week 2014

The Bank says that 15% of water withdrawn from the environment presently goes to energy production, and that  amount will rise to 20% unless there is a rapid shift to sustainable forms of energy. This comes at a time when clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.

It also warns that climate change will put further pressure on water and energy manage­ment by causing more outages to the water supply and intensifying severe weather events, such as floods and droughts. (read more)

It would also make a lot of business sense to have the City of Mumbai transformed into a Smart City, as it could act as a model for the new cities which we are thinking of building. What would work and what could fail can be easily mapped in this city is a microcosm of the country at large. The fight between nature and man,between conservation and commercialization is so well seen in everyday life of this once beautiful city.

The new capital near the city of Vijaywada which the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu is considering to develop. And considering that he is part of the NDA which is headed by our forwarded thinking Prime Minister, who would want to balance Economy and Ecology (although he is suspect of leaning more towards the Economy, presently) the idea that the researchers at Imperial College London have calculated must be brought to fore. The findings suggest many companies investing in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as tree-planting programmes or funding green energy in developing countries, may be having a bigger impact than they realise. Each tonne of CO2 offset by businesses brings $664 in additional benefits to host communities….But the paper outlines that purchasing carbon credits from well-managed offset projects not only reduces emissions, but also “creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits”.(read more)

So if business is in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blood, I hope he would be able to transfuse some into the cabinet, albeit changing its colour to Green ! And it would not be a moment too soon, as Andhra is a stricken Naxalite state. And farmers too are a distressed lot.

A recent study of the World Bank says that there has been a dramatic decline in honeybee populations. It has received wide media coverage, and not just because it imperils honey production. Agricultural production is also at risk, due to the important role bees play as pollinators. In fact, the value of the services they and other insects provide for the main global food crops has been estimated to amount to $209 billion a year, or 9.5 percent of the value of total global agricultural food production.

In light of the challenges posed by the decline of honeybees – and while the jury is still out on what exactly is causing the decline – the resources farmers have at their disposal to maintain or boost their productivity levels bear thinking about. In fact, even absent this decline, an economic analysis of farming techniques seems appropriate given the profit-maximizing nature of most farm operations. However, very little work has actually been done to look at natural ecosystems and the boosts they can provide to agriculture. (read more)

And there is this last thing which our Prime Minister whom we believe has a sense of National pride would want to showcase at least one of the 100 cities in the C-40 cities campaign. Yes, both New Delhi and Mumbai were signatories which was was mentioned in –Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

However, in the City Climate Leadership Awards to be held on 22nd September in New York, India sadly does not figure.While each of the efforts are business opportunities. Or rather Green Business Ideas –

C-40 Cities Award Finalist

C40 Cities Finalists.

 

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PM Modi’s 100 New Cities – will they be cause for celebration or mourning?


Through the following paragraphs, I would make a humble attempt for the average person to understand and take forward the ideas which ultimately shapes their lives.

I am an admirer of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first time I had the opportunity to be present at a meet at the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, for the Vibrant Gujrat project, I was sure he would be the Prime Minister.

And every time I zip through the New Free way from South Mumbai towards Pune, I feel glad that we had the Mr. Manmohan Singh as our PM. Who brought us economic prosperity!

The bloom turned to gloom later!

And while the present Government has won a thumping victory based on the “development agenda”. The development seems to be no different than a mindless race towards accumulating riches. We hope for saving the wealth of the Country.

As a Nation and a Citizen we have the right to develop and prosper. Nature is bountiful and Human, God’s greatest creation from time immemorial has learnt to use the resources for its growth.

But when our mother breast feeds us, nourishes and cares for us. Makes us strong and able adults. Do we throttle her, maul and maim ? As a thanks for her good deed?

Then why do we do so with Mother to all of us. The sustainer of Life. Our Mother Earth?

Pune Landslide Disaster Causes. Graphic Courtesy: Times of India

What would have been the last thoughts of those who were buried alive at Rudra Prayag and recently close to home near Pune? As mud slowly forced down the lungs of the wretched innocent?

A child whose only wish perhaps was to grow up and mend the thatch of his leaking home – not of buying the 60th floor of a high-rise, built using materials ripped and pillaged from the very surrounding the disaster happened ?

When one does not use the river sand to re-lay another fine Italian marble in his posh home…he saves young engineering students from being washed away due to the acts of the unscrupulous sand-mafia!

When one is happy to reuse and retrofit his old wooden floor & furniture, instead of seeking a new look in the study…she helps save the old parents praying for the well being of their children at the feet of Shiva!

Whenever we stop paving over the farm-lands and refuse to buy a “Non-Agricultural” plot, we stop the vulnerable Sahyadri, the Vindhyachal, the Nilgiri from dying.

And in its death throes kill civilization!

To protect Humanity…we need to build Green. And when we say Green, it must not be a green wash. (Govt’s devpt’projects to blame for tragedy: Experts).

And by building Green..we shall abate Global Warming & Climate Change.

For no panegyric text, no law ever made…has denied prosperity!

But all seem to have but forgotten..it advocates prosperity for everyone.

Sabka Saath….Sabka Vikas!

Inclusive growth does not mean a Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai-Bahai-Jew & Parsi! As we like to be identified as instead of Humans. ( perhaps due to the continued erosion of Humanity?)

But also those we foolishly call beasts! And with every animal we save, in the process a tree, a shrub…an ant and a moth survives!  For they all work together to make this Planet a better World to live in!

Something we knew before we “modernized ourselves”. For where else but in India we recognize the efforts of an ANT and build a temple to honour it.The ant hill Shiva- linga at Erumbeeswarar Temple. (this yet again underscores the important of remembering ones’ culture Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming )

Therefore if we need to build the 100 cities, which I strongly advocate that we do. We must build sustainably.

We must preserve the green that is the cover of mother Earth. Green is the colour of the plants which bear fruit, gives us air to breath and in the bosom of the forest which provides natures bounty, gave birth to Man!

Green Building is not a fashion statement. It’s our birthright!

It is a choice between life and death! And today and evermore we must choose to Live & Let Live.

Dangers of unsustainable development. Courtesy: Times of India

And to do that we have to change our mindset. Thus let us begin from understanding the basics, without which we will never be able to build sustainably. And create the Climate Resilient Cities, which we need so much.

To begin with, how many of us can actually recognise the trees or name the flowers other than the bunch of flowers we buy at exorbitant prices in high end boutique shops? Which are discarded as soon as the “air kiss” gets over !

Wrapped in cellophane that too …

How many of us remember when was the last time our children or we could recognise at first glance – a tree or shrub which produces the grains we eat or the fruits that are now more often put in beauty products than on a food plate ?

When we get disconnected from nature and what is natural, it is little wonder that we forget the age-old wisdom of putting importance to Roti – Kapada – Makaan !

The wise choice of sequencing  Food – Cloth – Shelter , in that order transcends both the Oriental & the Occidental World. It is of little consequence as to which civilization first mooted the idea…for if during the time of the Mahabaharata, we called ourselves “Aryans” and if they originated in Europe, then it proves beyond doubt that the world as a whole were far more intelligent and in sync with nature than we can aspire to be.

Thus when we build the 100 cities we must insure that the city grows its own food. It can be done by using the fertile soil of the building foot-print and placing every last bit of it on the roof-top or terraces, or better still make terminal market complexes which can be over the railway tracts or bus depots. Perhaps a combination of all would be the best formula.

And the best part is it would not make a farmer landless…

To grow food we require water. In fact all great Civilization and City Kingdoms grew near the banks of river or ocean. When we start to bottle water in plastic packs or it gushes out at the twirl of the tap..the disconnect from reality begins to manifest upon us. It is further compounded by the foolish yet well meaning laws that as water is the basis of life it must be either provided free or at a very nominal cost.

But, gone are the days when water used to quench a thirst, bathe a body or sow a seed. Now it is more required to fill a bottle of fizz and wash ones car. Or turn a turbine through a jet stream of steam…raised to its vapour form by ripping out Coal from the bowels of Earth. In an effort to satiate the insatiable thirst for POWER ( ? ), human have forgotten that water is a nourisher of life.

Flooded Mumbai after record-breaking rainfall. Courtesy: Times of India

And when you forget a life force & have a skewed development agenda…she comes back as a Tsunami or Flood wreaking havoc in her wake. Or simply moves away leaving parched land..fast turning into desert.To those who live in Mumbai, counting the days to rain is almost an annual ritual.

Because without rain the water bodies which provides the much needed succour simply can’t be replenished. And at the same time the rain brings with it untold misery for the citizens.

So how do we make the New Cities so as to not suffer the same misery which the current cities in India face ?

To begin with we must have stringent development control rules.

While it would take a collective will of the people to re-develop the existing Cities. The mistakes of not catering to the water needs in the new cities must be made into a crime punishable by law.

 

A fragile & beautiful ecosystem.

Lastly, where do we build our Cities and what material should be used to build them ? I find it amazing when developer after developer without giving a thought to the consequences to the ecosystem design projects in complete contravention to the lay of the land, the contours, the local populace. Every advertisement talks of connect with nature. And how one would live in harmony with it.

Each one of us would love to be in this place. But few amongst us would want to share it with the green glade, the birds & bugs ..the ant and the earthworm..the brush and the tree..the frog and the snake…animals and plants which have co-existed in perfect harmony to help nature sculpt this picture perfect place of tranquillity and peace.

Building around nature.

As I said earlier, human have the right to live a modern life-style, within an Ecologically sensitive area. Provided they follow the law which would make them build right. And most importantly learn to co-habitat with the surrounding.

Very few modern architect or developer would keep the place as it is and work along it to create space for man.They would develop it as it should be according to them. Because it is not easy to live with nature when everyday of our concious life, the commerce crazy community craving for riches vie for your attention on everything that is unsustainable in the long run..

An untrained and gullible mass considers the life-style preached by these false messiah as gospel.

Thus if we indeed need to build those 100 cities our Prime Minister has mooted let them be the dream cities which would stay behind as his legacy. Of having balanced growth of India with Sustainable Development of this planet.

Laws need to be mooted which prevent development of Urban spaces in present agricultural land. Prevent expansion of existing city sprawl into the life saving mangroves. And to achieve that the first thing which the Prime Minister must build, much in the lines of IIT’s in each state, are a University of Developers.

In this university of developers make mandatory attendance of all those who want to put a project. Be it Housing or a Coal mine. Airport or a Dam. And make them learn the laws of nature. The cause and effect of each decision which they would take for the project they would want to promote – 50 years from hence!

Allow them then to alter the situations towards the least harmful. For modern human can’t develop any further today without causing some harm. Such is sadly the truth. And the answer to which perhaps remains with those wiser. And may take this tread of an idea to the Utopian state it should belong.

And to those who having crossed the passage above consider this suggestion a waste…India & the World (25 Examples of Off the Grid Homes + Green Architecture) has already started working towards this idea.

We can build cities which are in sync with nature in a much larger extent than is currently practised.

What we need is a vision which many of us in this country hope this Prime Minister & his Cabinet has. We need not have to build upon fertile soil and forest but spread the Cities to those vast swathe of arid and semi-arid lands.

To areas where uncontrolled mining and logging has decimated the land and laid it bare and waste. To those areas connected by bullet trains and express ways; waterways and air ( at times a gas filled Zeppelin can undo the carbon foot print) and making mandatory for captains of Industry & Commerce to shift at least 6% of their operations to any 3 cities of their liking within the 100 spanning the country. We would attract a sizeable population of skilled citizens to spurt life into the new cities.

And as the roots of civilization begins to take shape, the local populace would benefit.

That is when perhaps we shall have an India shining!

 

 

 

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Future Cities -Its time to build the 1st of 100 promised.


The above example to start my argument has been put to ally the fears of those who still think that to live and work in a sustainable environment we have to go back to the stone age.

The need of the hour is to build projects which produce their own water and energy and this is very much possible. It also would give a positive fillip to the traditional business as the building industry is perhaps the only sector which uses all products and thus all sectors have a chance in participating in the development and growth of India.

There would perhaps also be a meeting of minds between those who think development is an anathema to environment as opposed to those who think “NGO’s are the sleeper cells of foreign power out to destroy India’s growth.” (foreign funding of NGO’s)

Let me first introduce you to what the world is thinking and then we shall proceed to what can be done with the knowledge resource and funds presently available. As most often lofty futuristic ideas fail to take-off and the “artist impression” remain as a poster or a screen-saver in some personal lap-top/office desk.

So let’s begin with what the World is thinking.

Vincent Callebaut’s Lilypad -Proposed as a “Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees”, which can house around 50,000 inhabitants.

Vincent Callebaut will find a place for himself in the year 2100 when half the coastline in the world have disappeared due to increasing sea surface. (more).

If one looks closely the image has a striking similarity to the coastline of Mumbai. Perhaps the town-planners who are thinking of building the ambitious “Shivaji Statue” off the coast could  increase their ambition to adopt such projects within the original concept. Which at once would catapult them to the pages of history for thinking beyond tokenism.

The Harvard Gazette article by staff writer Corydon Ireland, in March 2013 stated –

By the end of this century, sea levels could rise worldwide by 3 feet or more, inundating coastal cities and spurring catastrophic storms roughly every three years.

In Africa, at least 20 cities — including Cairo, Egypt; Cape Town, South Africa; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo — are especially vulnerable to rising seas. At the top of the list is Lagos, Nigeria, a fast-growing, low-lying coastal city of 13 million. By the year 2100, sea levels there are expected to have risen nearly 4 feet.

Houses and roads in Lagos are built on spongelike terrain that was once sandbars, lagoons, and mangrove swamps. Lagos is also riven with a confluence of inland rivers, adding to its vulnerability to flooding. In 2011, intense rainfall flooded homes, overwhelmed sewers, and turned streets into rivers. Hardest hit in such events are the poor. Slums already hold 70 percent of people in Lagos, a city that draws 3,000 more residents every day.

Many in Mumbai would find resonance to the above stated.

A floating oil platform is tugged from the harbor in the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

Now before we start baulking at the idea of designing ambitious projects such as the one shown above and discard them off-hand we must look around ourselves. Have we not already achieved the skills required for building such projects? If we just look towards Bombay High the off-shore oil rig a few miles off the coast of Mumbai, it is more or less a floating city. People work and live on it. And the engineering marvel has reached such a peak that there are many superb rigs off the coast of Scandinavia in the rough and cold Arctic sea. Like this Russian platform in the image.

How wonderful it would be when we would be able to use this technology not to further destroy the World we live in but to limit loss and damage brought about by Climate Change due to our insatiable thirst of fossil fuel.

For should we choose not to do that Nature, would surely make us pay for our follies. And there must have been a reason for the wise of yore to call nature, “Mother”. For she too at first gently admonishes before punishing for repeated mistakes we make.

IMG-20140613-WA0013

Unusually High tide was seen in Mumbai due to the Cyclone Nanauk

This month Nature visited us with a warning sent via Cyclone Nanauk. The unusually high tide, a result of the cyclonic effect; inundated many low-lying parts of Mumbai coast-line.

While there were tourist enjoying the spray of sea-water, the slum dwellers staying in the low-lying shanty towns were left with brakish water in this sweltering summer heat. Bereft of basic drinking water they suffered silently.

Once more highlighting the fact that Climate Change would hurt the poor and the vulnerable the hardest.

It is therefore time we the citizens wake up to the fact that Climate change is a clear and present danger. True natural disasters have been happening without any anthropogenic interventions for millennia and would continue to do so.

All that the scientific evidence has pointed out is that we have with our high fossil fuel dependence accelerated the process.

For those who are still not convinced, need not unnecessary fret. Just get into the bandwagon of “Sustainable growth” as being envisaged by our Prime Minister. It would be a good enough start as any.

For surely everyone wants to live in an integrated city of the future and to build it we need the expertise of all practitioners from all sectors. And if the rules which we think would govern building those cities don’t get diluted and corrupted in the process,we shall truly have a sustainable economy which India could ride upon.

 

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UNEP -SBCI Quebec 2014 – things it needs to do.


UNEP-SBCI 2014 Annual Meeting & Symposium on Sustainable Buildings.will be held on May 12th & 13th. The symposium will focus on the role of the buildings sector on the road to Paris 2015.  The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP-21) will be held in Paris in late 2015, at which member states are expected to sign the next global climate agreement.  

The building sector must be mobilized to help deliver action and achieve climate mitigation.  The symposium will include Technical sessions highlighting Carbon/energy/resource efficiency metrics, and Policy sessions focusing on necessary mitigation actions, including panels of industry representatives and city officials.

 While we all understand that the building sector is one of the primary focus area. And by now the sermon – “the building industry uses 40% of the energy and produces nearly 60% waste” has become a clique; so much so that we find builders/developers who having broken, mauled and pillaged every rule in the book to degrade the environment give speech in “green conferences” which are extremely “prestigious” & have support form “venerated” media house, after sponsoring generously for it.

It happens all around the World. An accepted part of “business promotion and networking”. At times promoting sustainability reaches level so bizarre that they are a complete anti-thesis to sustainable practice!

Habitat can’t be sustainable unless all factors surrounding it change.

And if we speak India centric, do we have the wherewithal to achieve such feat it terms of mindset and political will?  For example; how does one pacify the ever growing automotive industry, especially when the luxury segment of imported cars are also making a bee-line into India to say that “Hey! let’s take a walk. It’s sustainable you know ?”

To sum it up, there needs to be a balance between aspirations and reality. We have to understand that unless there is a holistic approach, piecemeal solutions would not even make a dent in our effort to remain within the 2 degree target.

So let’s look at Solutions one by one which needs to be made into a practice within a time-frame. And if that can happen before the UNFCCC – COP in Paris 2015 all the better.

Building Design:

While design is an artistic expression. If one walks around any city of India, the buildings neighbouring each other are most often than not similar to each other in form and function. A few outward frills don’t actually make a building unique.

To rest the doubts of those who differ, there is only one Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa…the Guggenheim..rest are copies of the masterpiece. Every time.

Now having established this fact, lets take the pledge to ask for a master competition of architects and designers to show case the best sustainable buildings that can be built, across all climatic zones. Let this competition be held by the UNEP- SBCI / UNDP.

As all the projects would by default would more or less be sustainably designed, there need not be a winner but a grade which makes the projects viable based on cost inputs.

Now put them up for auction. Countries would then send in their representative companies which have a shown an inclination to build green to bid for the designs.

Thus a Green Building Developer would have say 3 design typologies which it would have bid and won, and would have the right to build the same for the next 5 years or more exclusively. He would also have the right to modify the design; thus giving employment to the local artisans, based on site conditions. As long as it remains within the original intent of being a sustainable building.

For example the builder group in Mumbai can buy a high-end, a mid-end and a cost-effective design and apply them in each project as his trade mark.

So each year, there is a design competition, making industry thrive and along with it the allied products to improve. Market forces would soon find innovative ways to percolate it down-wards.

Just as the OSCARS and Miss Universe, the Best Singer…etc etc.

Burying the mundane and celebrating excellence. And this would be the ultimate praise to the Planet. As it would win every time.

The Auto-mobile Industry:

While it has been sometime for the electric car making its début in India.It is already searching its place amongst the dinosaurs !

If we were to see any residential/commercial building advertisement on TV. One would find a fossil fuel guzzling super -luxury Car stopping right at the porch and out comes the doting husband/father from work. The advertisement would further state that the super-luxury villas have 2+ car parking space, the + indicating a Super bike?

Can a developer risk making homes which truly follow the concept of New Urbanism? It is easy for one to say that integrated township must be developed. But would it be possible to have townships which uses the concept of “new urbanism” without seriously jeopardizing the aviation/auto-mobile industry and other directly related industries like Iron & Steel, Cement Etc? ( more -Principles of New Urbanism ).

REVA Electric Car

We can’t have a beautiful township across the bay if the marina is polluted with yacht waxed to a shine..while laying a oil slick which the dark waters of the wharf hide. We can’t have a quite neighbourhood if helicopters of the rich keep landing on roof-tops.

We can’t use our bicycles if cars jostle for space amongst auto-rickshaws, motor-bikes, hand pushed trolley and Ox-pulled carts…a speciality we still see in “amchi” Mumbai (English: Our Mumbai).

Thus the first thing for the government to do would be to change the symbols of progress in advertisements. If one makes walking or bicycling fashionable, the electric car chic! Society would gravitate towards it.

The Cement, Iron & Steel Industry:

Capitalism is such that even if there’s space to grow in one sector, one would want more from the world. Both Steel and Cement can thrive while GFRG – Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum takes over the traditional methods of building walls. This must be reinforced, else we can’t reduce the GHG in the Building Sector.

Rapid Wall

It’s time for the Rapid-wall concept to thrive.  Giving a fair chance for the middle class to live in better homes than they normally get. And at an affordable price too.

For GFRG does not require your traditional water-proofing, cement plaster, block-work or even internal finishing with Plaster of Paris, because PoP is essentially Gypsum powder. And the walls can come up in 40% less time. With no cracks, warping or faulty plumb-line.

And as it is extremely lightweight and durable, use of steel and shuttering can also be reduced to some extent. In fact more than what the regular PMC consultant would advise on.

The Media:

Pick any advertisement on a residential complex/ office tower. What is the first thing one notices that it would be in a extra-glossy page/paper.
Excerpts from EARTH TALK From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine– It’s no secret that glossy coatings on magazine covers make pictures really “pop” and attract the eye, thus helping publications compete for attention on ever more crowded newsstands.The basic glossy finish of a magazine cover or inside page is usually built into the paper itself at the time of manufacture, and is typically made of either clay or calcium carbonate.“The calcium is lighter,…“But it drives the destruction of mountain tops in Vermont and elsewhere in order to get at the mineral.”….(read more) To know further how harmful the glossy paper can be read –Better Paper.

In the age of the cell phone, the archaic way of advertisement still exist, thanks to the petroleum lobby, which would love to keep producing the paints & varnishes required to print, making the virgin wood extract, already moulded into paper to reek out more toxic into the ground as the glossy brochure gets tossed to the ground, post having roasted peanuts by the road-side. Yes! in India, the “raddi -paper” as we call old news print and other printed materials mostly sold to the local scrap dealer ends up becoming the cheap satchel in which pea-nuts and other tit-bits are sold. These paper can’t be easily recycled to make hand-made paper etc. Thus pose some damage to the environment when discarded.

While there are many more factors which can be added to this, I would pause this conversation with a note to

Public Empathy:

Mumbai University hacks trees off its own ‘bat’, BMC threatens action -The varsity has hacked 15 trees on its Kalina campus as the noise made by the colony of bats residing on their branches allegedly disturbed a faculty member.

If the seat of education which is supposed to teach living in harmony with Nature, can harbour such intolerance, Mumbai as a Sustainable City has a long way to go.

And the task of UNEP Quebec 2014 is cut out for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Solar Power to make Construction Cheaper.


As the World in this March was introduced to the SREX report on Climate Change by the IPCC. The importance of civilization switching itself from fossil fuel to cleaner source of energy cannot be underscored, should it want to survive.

However to really see a boost in this sector there needs to be innovation and active participation from all stake-holders.

While there has been some traction in the effort to harness Renewable Energy in India for some time under the National Action Plan for Climate Change. With the various Missions like

  • National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes:
  • Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments;
  • A goal of increasing production of photovoltaics to 1000 MW/year; and
  • A goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.
    Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research center, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends:
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
  • National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
  • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling and increased international collaboration.  It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While for a follower of Energy articles, the immediate focus would be with the Missions that are directly related to the industry, it is important for all to understand the reason behind all the missions. For they are inter-related in some ways or the other.

For example, with an understanding on the Strategic Knowledge for Climate; the RE sector entrepreneurs would have an understanding of the exact solutions which would not only benefit the planet but also give the right boost to the industry.

Likewise if we wish to retain the Himalayan Ecosystem, which is a source for perennial Water, the latter mission also gets addressed. So would be able to retain a forest cover while building a Sustainable Habitat if we look towards innovations which could capture the essence of the Missions as a whole.

The NAPCC further states, the following and this is where the present Green Business Idea takes off –

Other Programs

The NAPCC also describes other ongoing initiatives, including: 

  • Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and supercritical technologies.
  • Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
  • Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy-consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.

Implementation

Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits.

One such innovation is Solar for the Construction Industry.

Let’s understand how the Building & Construction Sector works. While they have not been given the sectorial stamp of the Infrastructure Industry, by the Government in all it’s wisdom. (And perhaps thereby allowing vested interests to continue wanton destruction of the Eco-system; which to an extent would have perhaps be negated with being associated as infrastructure industry which bear more scrutiny.) That the workings are more or less the same can’t be denied.

So while one builds residential & commercial complexes, there is a need for continuous and reliable source of power. If one is building within the city limits of some Indian megalopolis, “temporary power” as construction power is often termed, is availed by the builder/developer at a price higher than what the DISCOMS would provide to its consumers.

In some cities it is ₹14/- per KW. And in places where they need to depend on DG-set, the operating cost with diesel and its maintenance may shoot the cost anywhere between ₹16 – ₹22. The more remote the location the more use of DG. And this shoots up the cost of construction.

The additional burden is naturally passed on to the consumer. In most cases the average middle-class home/shop buyer. And if the market is not promising enough, some developers to keep the retail price within acceptable limits compromise on the quality of built space.

And it is precisely here that the Solar Industry can play a crucial role.

To those who are familiar with construction, they would understand that one of the main draw of energy comes from the Tower Crane and the Batching Plant. As much as 250KVA can be attributed to them which in large construction sites work day and night.

Should this be replaced by Solar Power during day-time use, either in-situ if there is space for it or via wheeling. A quantum jump in the requirement of Solar PV would give the right boost to the industry.

SOLAR PARK

The Solar power can be provided in two ways. First and the easiest would be to through Wheeling. Wheeling is the term used for getting an open access to the already established Grid power line and by evacuating the generated power, through a 33/11 KVA transformer as would be the case, from the plot of land where the Solar Park can be established.

Some states have a free-wheeling policy and it is here that one must focus in growing this form of business.

A solar EPC can approach investors or even a builder/developer group and ask them to invest to put up a park which would help them achieve perennial source of Solar power, at a discounted rate. This would help reduce the CAPEX on the project. While how much of the benefit would be passed on to the end-user would be a subject of consultation, unless that becomes a clause by the Government, committed to its social obligation.

WAREHOUSE

The in-situ option is more for larger construction companies such as L&T –Constructions, Punj Lloyd Group, GVK group, GMR group etcetera. Who take up infrastructure projects in remote locations. Where even the Grid Power lines at times not found going over-head. Here the project can be operationalized in smaller time-frame should the portable-cabins, ware-houses and worker quarters have in-built Solar panels, which can then feed a minimum power to start work faster, without depending on the large diesel generators.

And to make it a success innovation and collaboration both is required. The innovation is already explained. The collaboration which is required is that with a design firm which understands both Renewable Energy and Architecture, to create the space where normally there would be none found. Also in the case of infrastructure projects, the SPV have to be designed in a CKD format for easier transport and installation. Further, in this the orientation and latitude also plays a great part which needs to be adjustable every-time.

That this idea has already been tested and found approval is from the fact that the article is being written about it, if I may say so.

For any Sustainable Design Architects; they would find this as one of the primary drivers to attain the goal as envisaged in the National Action Plan on Sustainable Habitat. While at the same time carry the nascent industry of Solar, which needs all the care and support in this Sun blessed country.

 

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World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?


By 2030, researchers estimate that the disparity between national water demand and reliable water supply will be nearly 50%. Currently, India has a total water demand of around 700 billion cubic metres, of which almost 85% is used for producing food. In another 17 years, India will have only half the water it needs, thanks to global warming and population explosion. On the World Water Day on March 22, the need to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources will be of pivotal importance. If we consider even the most cost-effective solution to reduce water scarcity, it will require an annual spend of nearly Rs35,000 crore by 2030, according to ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.The report stated that India would require investments to the tune of Rs8 lakh crore over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure services like water, waste water and solid waste management. In India, just about 64% of urban population is covered by individual water connections compared to 91% in China, 86% in South Africa and 80% in Brazil. Allocation of Rs15,260 crore has been made in the Budget towards clean drinking water and sanitation as against revised estimates of Rs13,000 crore. A DNA News report by Dilnaz Boga.

While reading this under my study light, I looked up and started thinking – how much water does my light drink? I found some interesting answer under Saving Electricity, on water consumption to produce electricity (more information can be found in EIA page ). While I would not be able to verify the facts noted as under, even believing them to be accurate to some extent, presents a very sombre scenario.

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

  • Solar plant with dry cooling:  80 gallons per  megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with closed-loop cooling):  700-1100 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with open-loop cooling):  25,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (closed-loop):  500-600 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (open-loop):  20,000-50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Biomass (crops grown for the purpose of fuel):  40,000 to 100,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Natural gas fracking:  2-10 million gallons per well

This information required some chilled soft-drink and potato chips and lowering the temperature of the A/c. After all I have attended so many conferences on climate change, I have by now got used to the habit of consuming good food & drinks in luxury. How else can one solve the pressing issues of water scarcity and its related fall-outs like war and riots? Hunger and malnutrition caused due to drought and famine too requires a chilled pineapple juice in a PET bottle to be addressed properly.

Now let’s do some simple maths – 1 gallon = 3.78 litres (US- liter). As on July 31, 2010, and as per the Central Electricity Authority the total installed capacity of Coal or Lignite based power plants in India are 87093.38 MW.

So the water required to produce this electricity  87093.38 x 2268 liters = 19,75,27,786 litres.(assuming all are closed loop consuming  600 gallons/MW) Presently we have around 111 Thermal power plants which are coal/lignite based.

While it can be argued that water is recycled most of the time. That the coal, nuclear, Bio-mass, Natural gas fracking power plants  require water can not be denied. And it is impossible to stop the leakages. Some of it will have to escape, thus requiring continuous replenishment. Even Solar thermal requires water, though it can be called a saint in comparison to the others.

Thus a huge amount of water is not reaching the fields of a drought hit farm, or recharging the wells to quench the thirst. So with every drop of electricity produced we are removing vast amounts of water from the natural water cycle. This must be clearly understood.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,10,950 megawatts of electricity, according to government figures. And as per various estimates, India’s power generation meets only 90% of total demand.

TableAs the demand for electricity for a resurgent India is bound to increase, the thermal power plants have to increase their capacity or new plants would be needed to be set up. Same would be the case for Nuclear, Natural Gas, Bio-mass and Natural Gas Fracking.

With the table given, it is easy to the calculate how much water is required to produce electricity, which most of us waste. The common person needs to understand that Energy & Water are interlinked. Just as it is inside the body of a human. Without water, one has to die. Similarly without water we shall have no electricity. Until Renewable Energy, especially Solar PV and Wind mature to cover the demand supply gap. But this is not happening any time soon.

It is a choice in front of the intelligent animal named “human” to decide which is more important. To quench its thirst or thirst for more power to light up the ugly, unsustainable city which it habitats. The situation soon would be a choice of one or the other, unless we change the way we live. Sustainable design and living is no more an option but a necessity.

In my opinion, to celebrate World Water Day, municipalities all over the World  should announce 1 day of no water supply. This would make each and every citizen sit up and take notice of the school children walking down the streets holding placards on how to conserve water. The Police should arrest water thieves, a common thing in India & many other Asian countries and parade them in front of the media before putting them in jail. It is only then the seriousness of the problem be understood by the people. If at all.

For as long as city dwellers get their share of fresh-food and water supply, they care a damn from whose mouth it has been snatched. Thus, we will find people continue to throng so-called Holy men doing the unholy act of wasting water in cities of states which are in grip of severe drought.It is the mindset of the people which needs to be changed with sustained practical approach towards sustainable practice.

And one such idea could be by educating the people in a more grass-roots approach. We all need a home to live. And most in India aspire to own a home.

This could start with the building industry. The building industry consumes 40% of the world’s energy needs and 60% of all waste stems from it.

The Indian Builders Association has been seeking the Infrastructure status from the Government for a very long time. The Government could moot a law that in exchange of giving into that demand, the top management of all big and small builder and related stake-holder companies must go for certified & comprehensive Green Building training.

India practices two wonderful Energy Efficient Building design certification program through IGBC & GRIHA. Since its inception in 2001 IGBC, which practices the Indian version of LEED has 1,972 registered buildings and 149 projects are with GRIHA which opened in 2007. (source: Click here).

It is too small a number to effect a reverse change in the Global Warming and Water & Energy conservation. But if developers are made to attend Orientation Workshops as is organised by Centre for Science and Environment along with those by TERI -GRIHA and CII-IGBC. And without whose valid certificate one would not be given the licence to build, we may still be able to make the desired change we want in our effort to conserve Water and Energy.

This would automatically percolate to the public, the home/office buyers who would be bombarded by the green information in every brochure the developers distribute. And when the public starts to use the facilities and notice the difference it makes to their lives, the mission would have achieved its target.

And for once I believe this not to be a wishful thinking but a doable project. All that is needed is support from those who can influence the decisions of Governments.

 

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CDM -the Scam & the Redemption


In the absence of any monitoring system under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism or CDM (see box), DNA has found that several large projects in India that have been declared green and sustainable under the scheme are not only polluting the local environment but were also established by violating various environment laws. However, because of their status, these firms are permitted to sell carbon credits in the market, earning huge revenue in the process. These are the paragraphs from a superb investigative Journalism by DNA corespondent -Gangadhar S Patil.

In his article, Carbon Credit Fraud: How big firms faked green to mint gold he goes on to say – High cost and uncertainty ensure that many genuinely clean and sustainable projects fail to attain CDM status. These projects, handled by small-time developers, fail to attain CDM status because of the high cost involved in the application and verification process. Even if they manage to pass these hurdles, they don’t earn enough carbon credits to attract real traders in the market.

What Mr. Patil, infers is more horrifying than just the manipulation of the scheme to amass wealth, it is down-right criminal, if true.

Absorptions bands in the Earth's atmosphere cr...

Absorptions bands in the Earth’s atmosphere created by greenhouse gases and the resulting effects on transmitted radiation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are firms deliberately overproducing greenhouse gases (GHG) for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to earn revenue through the sale of carbon credits under the clean development mechanism or CDM scheme? The first indication is the fact that an analysis of the total carbon credits issued to projects across the globe, including India, shows that over 50 per cent of the total carbon credits issued until July 2012 were for the destruction of a deadly greenhouse gas called HFC-23 (Hydro Fluoro Carbons-23). It is 11,700 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and is created during the manufacture of HCFC-22, a gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

In comparison, renewable energy projects like wind, solar and biomass, together, account for less than 30 per cent of the total carbon credits issued in India; the figure is 20 per cent for the world. The CDM scheme allows firms manufacturing HCFC-22 to earn huge carbon credits by destroying its by-product, HFC-23. Since the cost of producing HCFC-22 is lower than the revenue generated by the sale of carbon credits issued for destroying HFC-23, it is possible that HCFC-22 is being manufactured solely for the purpose of destroying its by-product and earning carbon credits instead.

English: Greenhouse Gases

English: Greenhouse Gases (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second red flag is the fact that despite a sharp fall in the price of HCFC-22 due to supply exceeding demand and steep global economic recession, the production of this GHG has continued to remain at the same level…….Experts are not clear about what is happening to the excess HCFC-22 produced. Some believe that companies could be stocking it; others believe it is being clandestinely released into the atmosphere. As a result, there is no actual reduction of greenhouse gases though the total number of carbon credits issued is huge.

The last sentence would and should give shivers to any right thinking person. However, with the Country governance is doldrums due to the impact of one scam to another, the latest being coal; the knee-jerk reaction the government took this week in boosting the economy would not only impact the rudimentary Sustainable practices, it can erode it completely, with some  corporates muscling in their agenda of “growth” at the cost to the ecosystem.

carbon-Credit-Card

carbon-Credit-Card (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

Today the greatest unrest is because of Energy requirement, which comes from fossil fuel and with Coal hitting the scam list, it would be difficult for the government to allow mining ( unless strong-arm tactic are used) and feed the critical requirement of the industries. Thus importing coal would gather steam. Which in no way helps in abating GHG, just reduces pollution at ones own door. The second being LPG, now it is well documented that Oil corporations are bleeding due to subsidy, but to stem the flow what is required is imagination not short-term solution.

Further, the increase in LPG price and the cap in its domestic use, would spawn another scam /corruption which now is a default setting among us.

And to stay in governance the Government would be very tempted to turn a blind eye on the misdeeds. So what must be done to balance “growth” and come out of the log-jam which is called “policy paralysis”?

As always, each problem has sustainable solutions; we only need to find them and in this article through the use of CDM.

In a recent debate, to the current situation at TIMES NOW TV, one of the guest in the Panel quoted – ” Darkness is not opposite of Light but the absence of light”.  Resonating the sentiment I would say that the failure of the CDM policy is not the failure of the idea, for the idea in itself is the original “Green Business Idea”  under which heading I have written many a blog and today I rest my arguments with the link to a series of those which directly point to a solution. What is required is to make the system a little more fool-proof. And to this extent the media, with its depth of reach should partner those who walk the path towards sustainability.

It is well documented, that traditionally in India the debt of the Father is paid by the Son. Horrific tales of the Bonded Labour are known to many. But if it’s a sad tale, it also has an opposite side. The side which investors in CDM and the Banks need to see; the honesty of the grass-root citizens of India. Unlike corporate frauds, they pay their debts. At times with their lives.

The Indian as opposed to the pseudo (westernised) Indian, always has paid respect to Nature and if one takes any religious festival of India, Nature is given due importance. In my earlier article Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming & Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming;Part-II Killing Trees; I have tried to document this aspect within the limited knowledge I could gather.

Further, I believe that the concepts which I have attempted to project through many of the articles termed Green Business Ideas, and especially – Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests; Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. All have the potential to earn CDM benefits. We can call them CER or REC; the money can be international or national but it must be available at the grass-root level. And at the level where innovations make a difference.

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including lan...

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we still need to rip the bowels of our Mother Earth, to feed our insatiable needs, we can actually limit them by creative thought; Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers.This very act alone would save thousands of petro-dollars and improve the fiscal  deficit. While at the same time creating millions of jobs in the service and allied industries of the Solar market. While the above thoughts look at the Indian grass-roots, the middle class too can benefit and its mental outlook can be changed with Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.;Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.But these too, need the support form the UNFCCC and the Banks which traditionally look at large caps and easy return; which lead to the fraud in the first place.

While the present Mumbai city many not have enough roof-space to generate its own electricity, by making laws for future re-developments and up-coming townships (Green Business Ideas: the missing LEED/GRIHA credits can help boost economy worldwide.) a great amount of job creation and by that default wealth can be generated. The crisis of energy can be tackled and that should be the goal.

Within a span of 10 years, should Sustainable building methods become norm, the government can further cut its fiscal deficit by increasing the energy tariff to what it should be, while encouraging CDM benefits for the common person. The concept is addressed somewhat in Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy.

 The government in its first avatar of UPA-I started well in the path towards sustainability; but partisan politics and myopic views of both the political and corporate masters have not helped in boosting the concept which it came out with (Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success)What it must do is lend its ear to the citizens, who always care for good governance and will stand as a solid wall of support if the benefits from CDM flows directly towards them, instead of becoming another profit-making tool for the unscrupulous corporate entities.

 

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Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth


The Monsoon in India, is delayed and it is predicted that we shall have scanty rain-fall this year. Every sign of Climate change, which have been predicted are happening. In the USA, the unprecedented power outages and heat wave are prime time News.  Perhaps if in the last 20+ years the World had listened and shifted to a better Economic model, than the “grow quickly rich – and throw everything else into the ditch!” Corny capitalism; things would perhaps be improving by now.

But how does the common person know they are the part of the problem? And how can they help?  Through this article I shall try to weave seemingly different News articles which have been published in various Indian News papers,in the immediate past  and try and show how we still are going horribly wrong at every turn and the efforts of a few, be it in the Governance of the Nation or NGO’s; are not being able to make the desired impact.

English: topographic map of India

English: topographic map of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all know that at long last the “Western Ghats”; have been accorded with UNESCO recognition. It would bring cheer to many environmentalist, who are deeply concerned with the destruction of this fragile eco-system. However, how much it would be able to help in the ground is something we have to wait and see.

The weekend News papers in India‘s, usually carry features on property. Having been caught up to the developments around UNFCCC Rio+20 agenda, I had not been paying too much attention to them. But over the last weekend the barrage of “up coming” once in a life-time bargain ‘second homes” caught my eye. All these projects are beyond the limits of the megalopolis of Mumbai by a minimum of 150 Km. Most are either on or close to hill stations atop the Western Ghats range, or industrial zones, which are situated in the valley of the ghats. The examples I would like to give here are two – one a hill station, Lonavala and the other an Industrial estate area – Roha. Both are close to Mumbai.  Roha is located in Raigad district in the state of Maharashtra(INDIA). Many big companies have their manufacturing plants there like – Pepsi, Clariant, Sudarshan Chemicals, Excel, Unichem Laboratories etc. It is only 120 km south-east of Mumbai, and with a population of over 40,000 it is only natural that in time, the big builder/ developers would like to set up residential townships, the likes which are found in and around Pune and Mumbai.

The town is surrounded by natural beauty, as it is part of the western-ghats. When I had gone during my “project manager” days in the early 2000, I had worked on a project there. It is a beautiful place, small industrial town, nestled in the valley of the Ghats, which is more or less self-sufficient, but at one time industrial air-bone pollution was at the extreme. Now, we are going to have another danger, far bigger looming around this area. And that, sadly is “development”.  For, if you type into your computers – “Development rules in the district of Raigarh, Roha taluk”; nothing is found.  A vague Environment & Forest Notification is all you find.

No maps clearly demarcating which are industrial zones, forest areas, residential and commercial zones can be found easily. If you notice, you would rarely find a guide-map of the locality you reside; in New Delhi you have them at the entrance of each residential colony. In Mumbai and rest of India its a rare sight. Even if one types “development rules of Mumbai”; a 1999 pdf is available from MMRDA preceded by many latest news talking about amendments.  Compare this by typing -development rules of New York USA.

A country which prides itself on its IT strength, does not have any information, which the common man can find at a click of a button. To keep abreast or simply familiarize oneself of the laws, so that should one find wrong-doing like finding a park area being constructed /encroached upon or an earmarked residential area  or a natural drain, being paved over for creating a shopping complex ; spot it and make aware the authorities to take action. Of-course we have the Right to Information Act, but I’m sure there is no information available or worthy enough to look into of various places which are not large Cities or Towns of India. And even the large towns and cities do not have at times complete information or information which is easily available. The apathy and incompetence, almost seems like a deliberate act to help in corruption. And the loss is always going to be to the Nation and its people.

Last week, in Mumbai a 24 year old girl died due to tree falling over her during a sudden squall. Today the DNA newspaper carries a statistic under the heading –Tree falls claim 21 since 2005. The other news was –Rain fill lakes with 3 days of water supply for Mumbai. Disjointed as they may seem, these two are interlinked not only to each other, but also the the paragraphs above.

Just as in the beautiful lush-green surroundings of  the hill station of Lonawala, unplanned townships are coming up in many locations. Farmlands are getting changed into residential and commercial areas. While there is planning within the perimeter of the projects, infrastructure is never given precedence. Neither are there any strict laws laid down to deter littering. If one looks at the city of Mumbai, in the early 1980’s the now congested suburbs were farmlands and mangroves. Catchment areas essential for groundwater recharge and prevention of flooding, which slowly started to get converted into township, with scant regard to town-planning in the proper sense. Today we have encroachments, super-bad roads and clogged drains; most of the buildings require high maintenance from water proofing and salt water corrosion.

The common person does not think twice before littering the street or not buying from illegal vendors who occupy most of Mumbai foot-paths and foot-over-bridges. In fact it is a welcome sign, to have the first illegal grocery, tea/cigarette kiosk next to the new building  which comes up in far-off locality. Any architect, who has worked in far-off sites, would empathise with me at the relief one gets when a small tea & cigarette shop opens up opposite the construction site across the road; where one can relax the tired limbs and have a “cutting-chai”. ( chai = tea). This happens because when a developer goes to the Urban fringe and builds a township, the State does not cater to the welcoming opportunity the private developer creates for up-liftment of local business and does not match it in pace with infrastructure and innovative schemes which can create proper commercial zones especially de-marked for the urban poor who find an opportunity to do an honest business. These local semi-urban populace do not have the money to buy into the commercial areas, if built by the developer. Their shops usually come up as shanties while the township is under construction to cater to the labourers and even the engineers. But this relief turns into grief for the citizens in time as no infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, waste-disposal or safety measures are built around them.

Similarly the shady-tree which once helped the labourers and engineers to have  a momentary relief while sipping into the tea, soon gets surrounded by shops and most of the ground, right up to the bark gets paved over. The tree starts to die, and then one rainy day it falls, taking along with it life of an innocent bystander. The newly built suburban rail station looks exactly the same as all suburban rail-station around Mumbai, filthy and difficult to negotiate through the illegally constructed shops and haphazardly parked vehicles.

Water supply is scarce and come summer, the citizens of this once new town become desperate for potable water. Ground water gets depleted as most of the catchment areas get paved over and constructed upon much before the “development rules” comes into force.

Farm fresh vegetables and live-stock which were once easily available become a distant dream for most as due to land-use change most fertile land are lost. The word “green” becomes a mockery as maximum one finds in patches atop utterly destroyed local ecosystem are some  “Chinese” grass lawns, bottle palms and a few decorative flowering shrubs.  For a water body, a swimming pool is considered a great gift from the developers and accepted with great pride by the residents. Some standard advertisement goes –  live by the river side with lush greenery and natural surroundings. And should one inspect – 9 out of 10 projects would have no safety features, or advisory of how not to litter or degrade the natural surrounds.

Every-time I see the images of a super expensive and super large hill-station township, which got created in the recent past, breaking almost every environmental law as reported in the news. I feel very disappointed. My fear, is not the development of a hill-station as I’m not against development; but if it is at the cost of the eco-system then we are staring at a lot of trouble. And it is around a fresh water lake. With almost zero civic sense in most of us, imagine what can happen, if strict precautions have not been taken by the developer; as each home owner post the mandatory “Griha Pravesh Pooja” would,  giving scant regard to the environmental hazard, dispose the ritual materials right into the lake, tied in a plastic bag, so that it helps pollute the once pristine lake a little more.

The concept of dust-bins, public urinals and civic sense advisory board, along with clean-up marshals or policemen to penalize offenders, is alien in most areas of India.  Therefore if anyone has visited the lake city of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan or other tourist destinations in India which has a water body, would appreciate what I mean to imply here. And this is also true in the megalopolis like Mumbai, which is also a tourist destination & has a large water body, the legendary Ban-ganga and the Arabian sea; both choking with refuse.

While there is an urgent need for India to “develop”, and we have the right to do so; we as Peoples need to understand the dangers of unsustainable urban living. It is for us to decide the course of growth. With unplanned and unsustainable urban sprawl which would seem as “growth” in economic sense for a short while would actually deplete our resources and would not improve the quality of living. And this in the long run would weaken the Country from all indices of growth. We must adhere to and understand about Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.

The World’s Best Places to Live  according to human resources consulting firm Mercer’s, 2011 quality of living survey report looks at living conditions such as economy, socio-cultural environment, politics, education, and the health sector. Rediff.com also did a survey of 15 Best cities of India, but as per world standards – Mumbai is ranked a dismal 117th, New Delhi is ahead at 113th scoring 56.5 and 58.6 per cent, respectively.

And among all the areas of development, I consider Urban development as most important  because without the proper standards of living; which directly affects the overall well-being of the citizens,  the country can not prosper and today  the Indian economic health has not much to cheer about, due to various internal and external factors. Therefore it is imperative we learn our lessons and follow into the path of overall Sustainable Development.

To prove my point (it almost seems to be written in 2012)  below are excerpts from an article published in The South Asian Voice in 2001

As economic growth rates have plummeted throughout the world, India (like the rest of South East Asia) has not escaped the impact. Growth rates have been reluctantly pruned to about 5% for the year, and may have to be revised further downwards if an anticipated post-monsoon pick-up in consumer consumption and industrial manufacturing fails to materialize. While, booms and busts are endemic to “free-market” or capitalistic economies, sections of the Indian media had sought to convey the impression that the switch to greater “market freedom” would result in a continuous economic boom. …..However, it is doubtful if these factors will continue to play as important a role in propelling the Indian economy forward.….There are also several structural impediments to increases in rural incomes. Already India is one of the most densely populated nations in the world. Pressure on land is already very high and existing water resources have been depleting at an alarming rate. Even with a switch to more sustainable agriculture and water-management policies, it is unlikely that improvements in agricultural productivity can take place at previously seen rates.….However, so far, there has not been any serious analysis of the trajectory of the Indian economy or on the policy direction taken by the government. Neither has there been any comprehensive look at the relationship between economic growth rates and improvements in living standards….Consider an article by Jonathon Rowe titled “A misguided quest for ‘productivity'” that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor (June 28, 2001). In this essay, the author bemoans the American obsession with “productivity” without regard for the value of what is produced and whether it contributes to human happiness. “We Americans are not lacking for products. Our basements and garages are groaning. A warehouse industry has arisen to hold all our stuff. Yet they tell us that the benchmark of our economy remains whether we can turn out still more stuff per hour. Is that scientific principle, or fetish?” …….Take the recent fascination with cars. For people to really enjoy the use of a personal car, a country must have enough land for wide roads and large parking lots. And that’s exactly how every automobile ad in India shows off new cars. Cars for the Indian market are shown scurrying along wide and vacant highways in dreamy countryside settings, completely unrelated to the actual Indian reality or experience. After all, some of India’s most scenic destinations aren’t even connected by motorable roads, and virtually all Indian cities are so densely populated that even newer residential and commercial areas are planned with narrow roads and limited parking facilities. There is thus something very surreal about the Indian media’s glamorization of the car……But imagine, if the country produced better means of public transportation. Assuming that a mini-bus costs only three times as much to produce as a car, and assuming that the average mini-bus seats about 30 people (or more) comfortably, there is a ten-fold increase in transportation options…..And this is just one example of a glaring disconnect between economic growth and it’s linkage to all-round social well-being and the overall quality of life. We can also find examples that illustrate the reverse case where an activity may have a low price tag but significant long term social value….Consider how this decade of “liberalization” has marginalized cultural activities that may have a much more profound impact on human happiness, quality of life and social harmony……. – each of these activities may potentially be of much greater value to human health and happiness than their calculation in the country’s GDP….The liberalization decade has not only failed to make such contributions, it has also created an environment where people have stopped appreciating cultural activities. They have also been trained to devalue those activities that can only bring about gains after long gestation periods such as activities in scientific and social research. It is often forgotten that India’s present strength is in no small measure a result of the many direct and indirect benefits of earlier investment in public institutions of higher learning and advanced scientific and technological research.

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Using Solar Panels as Glass Facade can reduce Heat Island Effect in Cities and earn LEED credits


glass facade

In the past week I was interviewed by two News media both electronic & print which were very excited about a report by scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) India,  on Glass Façade Buildings in the City of Mumbai, India  and how it is raising the overall temperature by more than 17° C in the surrounding area of the building. Although it could be true, one must explore about how this problem be addressed without making ‘glass’ a bad building material. Things are not always black or white, therefore I would use this as an opportunity to once more showcase how Sustainable Cities  could be planned.

Glass has been a tradition building material for eons now. Colored glass was found from the Babylonian era and some of the most beautiful Churches and Cathedrals draw their prime beauty from the Stained Glass murals. Glass is the only single medium which allows the external environment into the room in a controlled fashion. Which means one can enjoy rain, snow or bellowing wind swaying the tree tops without getting wet or cold and having that curly lock of hair firmly in place.

Yet uncontrolled use of glass can create problems, such as raising the ambient temperature of the city/town and making it warmer. While extensive use of glass in building façade may be considered a good thing to counter the harsh winter experienced in the temperate regions of the World, it is foolish in Hot climes.

The reasons are simple. The word ‘Green House‘ originally meant ( before Global warming became popular) a glass house which kept the temperature warmer than the freezing  European cold and let some plants & vegetables grow. This happens because the heat from the Sunlight gets trapped within the space by the default property of glass.

While this is good for designing a building in say Norway or Alaska, where every drop of Sunlight would bring in the warmth and perhaps help save in reduction of energy consumption required for district heating, the same principle would require enormous amount of  district cooling which otherwise would have been normal in case of a hot and humid city like Mumbai or any other city with similar climatic conditions. And those large  water-cooled Air-conditioning plants placed on the roof tops to cool the buildings do so by pumping cool air inside the buildings while sucking the hot air away and out into the surrounding atmosphere. So a total glass building would not only throw more hot air out into the cityscape it would also use more water to cool itself. Yes, there is air cooled A/c plants too and high-efficiency COP’s have the ‘Green’ label attached but it too consumes energy and heats the sorrounding it however saves on water. Only the most well designed and high-end commercial glass façade buildings conform to all Sustainability criteria. But it does not hold true for all.

Therefore while the building may look swanky and very western, I would caution the tenant in buying space there as their energy bills could shoot up. Moreover by default of design constrains, its cheaper to make the Glass Facade buildings near hermetically sealed. Further no one would want the Air conditioned space to get warm because of a leak in the window casing.

Now the above observations lead to some unique problems for India or for any Emerging Economy in the Third World with similar climatic conditions.

First is the heat & dust. Not only does glass buildings get warmer inside it turns ugly on the outside too because of the perpetual dust. And once the commercial buildings are sold it becomes the building owner association responsibility to take care of maintenance. Maintaining tall glass façade building does not come cheap. It requires a whole new engineering solution, such as façade cleaning lifts and trained people to do it.

Second, we are a ’emerging economy’. Which means only a few rich & super rich have the luxury of having uninterrupted power. Rest are routinely treated with planned load shedding / power cuts and have to generate their own power through fossil fuel smoke belching  Diesel generators. In case of longer duration of power failure, rationing is done to cut cost and even the generators are shut down. And in this case one has no choice but to sit in airless rooms breathing Carbon –Di– Oxide exhaled by the neighboring colleague and hoping to survive the day.

Third, in smaller Tier -II & III towns and even the cheaper business districts within the megalopolis  the buildings only ape the Glass Facade exterior with no  Fire Safety Norms as a priority, and are built by unscrupulous Builder developers who themselves are an ignorant lot along with little or no understanding of EHS ( Environment – Health – Safety ) nor it is understood by the general public. ( the whole of India has only 2-3 dedicated burns center, one in Mumbai. New Delhi has none. However thousands die each year through burn related accidents) . So Glass buildings which are not designed well may lead to catastrophe in case of fire. Further as some are built right upon the road-side in high density areas, during Earthquake or other calamities, it may only compound the problems further with razor-sharp glass falling all over. True the glass have built-in safety feature to shatter into small bits but bad fixing and poor quality glass do not perform as intended.

Business and Scientific report do not go hand in hand. But  Science must be heeded if Business is to thrive. Global warming and its associated risks are too well documented to be ignored.  ( read my article for details:  Climate change – the most significant emerging risks facing the world today ) If the City of Mumbai or any city with similar climatic conditions continues to grow in this fashion and Glass façade buildings become norm and not exception, we are looking at a serious problem.

So we come to the question of what would the Developers and the Public do post reading the NEERI report ? Will tall glass façade building vanish from the cityscape? No chance.

But saving Mumbai ( and other cities ) is a must. Therefore here I will present an alternate thought which the Glass manufactures like ASAI, MODI etc along with the Solar PV manufacturers would I hope discuss over cocktail & dinner and come back with great Eco Ideas which would at least help reduce the problem of Heat Island Effect. And for this we must look at BIPV.

CIS Tower, Manchester

Image via Wikipedia

Building Integrated Photo voltaic (BIPV) has been around for sometime. It produces electricity and can also act as a Glass Facade. (As the image to the right shows, the dark blue glazing with a logo on top )  Now this is an option which has not been explored to its full potential in India and the rest of the World because of the cost verses production of electricity. It is generally understood that BIPV which is still in its nascent stage needs to develop further to truly become the choice for Architects and Builders to consider using it as an alternative to Glazed Building. This can happen only when the cost of the product becomes near equal to that of conventional Double Glazing Unit ( DGU ) which we see all around the city of Mumbai. However we can speed up this process by simply bringing in the economy of scale.

So how does one bring about this economy of scale? Simple, by introducing the Green building concepts which require the use of Solar Power or Green Energy. Both in the TERI – GRIHA  and IGBC -LEED certification process require  to bring energy efficiency of about 14% to the Building Envelope ( skin of the building; the outermost wall /glass surface ) which  at times design constrain and economic factors make  very difficult to deliver. Further Green Building Norms also ask for 10% of the total building energy be drawn from Solar Power. This too, is difficult due to unavailability of required roof-top space in certain cases.

BIPV

Now BIPV  are SPV  (solar photo voltaic) patches of  modules which is sandwiched  between glass.  It not only produces electricity but also reduces the amount of Sunlight from entering the building which is known as the SHG factor for glass ( Solar Heat Gain). So this can act like ceramic frit-glass, which too is an architectural favorite as it has lower SHG factor  and yet have dual function. Further in the Green Building rating system one looks for high SRI  (surface reflective index) content to reduce the heat island effect. Glass has high SRI index. So it reflects more sunlight away and what could have entered the building unhindered gets caught and converted into energy by the SPV cells. So another LEED credit point, credit interpretation could be sought jointly by the SPV as well as the Glass manufacturers.

Now as more and more buildings all around the world are opting for LEED Certification ( Leadership in Energy and Environment Design ), the above two credit points would fit well into the scheme of things. But this may not be enough to reduce the cost of  BIPV. Therefore we can adapt the idea which I have explained (in the article – Green Business Ideas : Cheap Solar Power is possible  ) earlier to manufacture cheaper BIPV’s  and yet creating space for newer research & development. Therefore what NEERI published as a problem can be solved by scientific ways and high-end engineering which follows the basic principles of Sustainable Building Design. And who knows one day we may have enough BIPV clad Green Buildings just as the above French building ( click on image ) which would help further reduce the enormous Carbon Footprint each City has, to make a safer Earth with better business ideas.

 

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Renewable Energy – Formula for Cheaper Hospital bills and Cleaner Air


Hospitals require enormous amount of energy to run. No hospital which take care of critical illness can have even for a moment not have power supply .  So  the light bulbs, fans and small exhaust and most importantly those plug points holding the mobile chargers. Yes! the Mobile charger, though individually does not amount too much power load, when multiplied a few 1000 times it matters! And trust me no ward waiting upon a patient  in the hospital wants his Mobile battery to be out of charge! These along with Computers care clubbed into the LDP, while the Air-conditioners, Di-humidifiers and filtration plants along with hot-water boilers is connected to the HDP. In engineering terms used in my country we say LDP & HDP ( light and heavy-duty power  ). And above all the breathing apparatus, operation theater machinery are  critical activities that can’t be stopped even for a Milli second. Therefore hospitals are designed with huge diesel generators for back up power.

Diesel generators ( even the “greenest” one ) belch fumes and make noise. What could be more ironical than Health Care which is supposedly to remove pollution ( as all disease can be termed ) form the Human body is perhaps inadvertently becoming party to Climate Change. This I’m sure no self-respecting and thinking Health care professional anywhere  around the World would want.

Renewable Energy can be the Messiah  for this, yet it is too costly today for all well-meaning Health Care institute to afford. And Government subsidy is not the answer. Because subsidy is not sustainable unless it has a practical back-up plan. So what can be done ? The answer in my humble opinion is simple. Take it to the people.

Everyday there are thousands of patients who visit hospitals and are cured of their malaise; thankful for a new lease of renewed life many donate to charity, some donate to the hospital. If this simple idea is taken forward and ( with a clear and transparent with proper accountability – especially for India ) each patient were to be asked to donate say between 1% to 10% of the total Hospital fee as Renewable Energy Cess, within a span of say 5 years almost all Health Care Units would perhaps become near self-sufficient in their daily requirement of Energy.

And why would the public pay up ? Simple again, convert each persons donation  into some kind of equity, so every time s/he visits and pays the RE cess, s/he becomes a partner to the energy plant. Now as the energy plant would reduce the overall energy bill the hospital pays over time, an expense it passes on to its consumer ( read patient ) the patient should benefit through a rebate on his/her bills! It’s a win-win situation for all. And it could be  modeled on other service industries too !

The State/Country benefits; the consumer & hospital benefits and most important  the Earth Breaths a little better !

True the problem of space for installing Renewable Energy Plant near the Hospitals may not be possible to solve at most time, this is where the Government subsidy should focus. To wheel in the power created by the RE power plants afar, through its established Grid and not charge the hospitals for it.

It would be also freeing up the traditional Grid power supply and thus create a ‘surplus’ for the Government to supply power to other areas and help Emerging Nations to develop further and for Developed Nations the idea could help in reducing their GHG emissions.

 

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Clean Development Mechanism – A guide to Profit in slow Economy


The Year 2011, history would record as a year of Change. Many unprecedented changes happened around the world. In the context of Global Warming & Climate change, there were many changes.

During cold La Niña episodes the normal patter...

The UNFCCC meet at Durban, South Africa  announced that 2011 was is tied for the 10th-hottest year since records began in 1850, (Read more:http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/11/29/20111129world-growing-warmer-un-says.html#ixzz1hzDYvmH3) and that to in a “La Niña” . ( La Niña is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon that is the counterpart of El Niño as part of the broader El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate pattern. ) During a period of La Niña, the sea surface temperature is lower than normal by 3–5 °C. It is the opposite of El Niño, where the latter corresponds instead to a higher sea surface temperature by a deviation of at least 0.5 °C, La Niña is often preceded by a strong El Niño.

As the Durban meet closed, being extended by 2 days which by itself speaks volumes about the concern and dangers being faced by the OASIS, ALBA, LDC and many nations from the G77 + China. Although far too short form what the above mentioned nation groups wanted, the EU & BASIC Countries  along with the Indian Environment Minister, in a classic climax situation could get all to agree to a draft which read –

An agreed outcome with legal force, for emission reduction with common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”- The Durban Declaration from the UFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] COP-17.

We are with the current consumption pattern heading towards a temperature lock-down of a +4°C, Global warming of humongous proportion which could bring Armageddon for some Nations. And there would be tremendous losses in the rest, as per The Stern Review  without action, the overall costs of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP) each year, now and forever. Including a wider range of risks and impacts could increase this to 20% of GDP or more. Many forecasts (http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com/2025-climate-change-global-warming-2025.php ) deal in detail on what could happen.

Whether some like it or not, the present economic model of “Capitalism” armed with Democracy is the best we have. It may not be perfect, the chaos in Europe & USA prove that, but best among the lot. Having said that, if we reverse the “Greed-a-listic” ( read unethical Capitalistic practices ) into a better business model which looks at inclusive and sustainable growth as “profit” and not the so-called Corporate thinking of  : “get-quickly- rich- and- push- everything- else- into- the- ditch” type of profit, we may yet have the chance to reverse the effect of disastrous Climate change.

To do that we must cut carbon intensity without shutting down development opportunities; Innovate development opportunities to find ways to adapt the effects of climate change; Change completely to new ways of operating in response to climate change.

With the UNFCCC ratifying the extension of Kyoto Protocol for the second phase, the carbon market ( Carbon credit ) in EU is set to grow back . From the modest € 7 to the high of €30 -50 is being predicted. Businesses and environmentalists have heaped pressure on the European Commission to bolster the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Following a letter last week to the president of the European Commission, 15 companies and lobby groups, including Dong Energy, Alstom, Vestas and Shell issued a joint statement on Sunday, calling on the European Parliament to back measures to support the EU ETS.

As per experts the Clean Energy would be a $ 250 Billion business and by 2015 -16 we should be seeing a $ 5-6 Billion worth of business and growing by 2012 onwards.

Focusing on the Infrastructure and Construction Industry, it is well documented that the Building Industry produces 40% of the GHG and 60% of waste production can be attributed to building related activities on a Global scale.

The Urban Development Planners, Builder Associations must start taking Global Warming and the inherent economic & social risk it entails by creating Laws and Industry practices which look into eliminating fuel poverty through better building and retro-insulation;developing less polluting public transport and new sustainable transport programs in urban and rural areas;evolving more localized and self-sustaining food growth and production systems; encouraging community-owned and managed assets for energy generation, water and sanitation, resource recycling, and waste exchange (reuse);promoting regional community-owned and community-managed energy programs harnessing new technologies (bio-generation and other alternatives).

Residents of climate-friendly communities absorb the skills and capabilities that can help them strengthen community resilience to climate change, and take
advantage of new and sustainable economic development opportunities.

Taking it to the Indian context, where the economy has slowed down as opposed to a recession seen in many countries around the world. And especially the complete slowdown in the realty space in Mumbai, Climate Responsive Architecture is the best bet to improve the profit margins. However, one must be cautioned that stepping into high-technology and smarter technique adaptation is not easy. It requires a complete re-learning process and debunking the traditional methods of conducting the business. For some it would be a tall order and unless forced by legislation, would not change. However there are many who already have taken the first step towards Better Building Design and seek advice in LEED / GRIHA ; but most need to still improve their mindset from using it just as a trend to making it a mainstay in their future business policy.

It is time that civil society and state governments to focus and ask leaders in the construction industry to recognize that business can be part of the complex solution to the climate challenges we all face now and in the future.

 

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Recession is the best time to go Green


Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Chair of the C40 Cities
Climate Leadership Group (C40) says- “For the first time in history, half of the world’s people live in cities and together are responsible for more than 70 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas production. Collectively, the C40 cities account for approximately 21 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. Roughly 12 percent of the world’s carbon emissions are produced in our metropolitan areas. And nearly one of every 12 people on Earth lives in or near our cities’ limits.Granted there is no single solution for confronting global climate change. Still, the best scientific data tells us that it is long past time to address this challenge, and that cities must lead the way. This report represents a critical first step in our leadership – as individual Mayors and as a collective – towards a common, sustainable future.” C40 cities report city-wide GHG emissions totaling 609.5 million* metric tons CO2-e. This figure is equivalent to the total emissions from a country like Canada.

World over there is a slump in the Realty market. With many a nations almost folding over in Europe and the US yet to recover form the disaster of 2008, there are many who would want to toss the wisdom of Environmental concern for short-term (disastrous) gains, in almost all sectors of business.The conventional “wisdom” prevails over more slower yet saner approach. In this context when the exponents of Green Building try to move their agenda forward, all they get is a patient hearing. And it more often than not, ends there.

As per Nielsen Report on Sustainable Efforts & Environmental Concerns Around the World -“There are many possible reasons for declines in concern about climate change/global warming. Focus on immediate worries such as job security, local school quality, crime and economic well-being have all diminished media attention for climate stories in the past two years. In the face of other pressing concerns, a public “caring capacity” for climate change has been tested,” said Dr. Maxwell T. Boykoff, Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. “Without continued attention paid to global warming/climate change in the media, such concerns may have faded from the collective public conscience.”

So when consultants who wants to promote as President Barak Obama says – “Better Building Initiative” not many takers are available.This is happening because while Governments all around are good at providing  lip service to Global Warming & Climate change, strong policy decisions are not being taken. Now it is also a well understood fact that should one choose to do an Energy Efficient Building -‘Green’ Building as it is popularly known, up to 20% CAPEX; 20% OPEX & 20% GHG can be reduced. This is something which even the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), the Green arm of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and compatriot of LEED – United States Green Building Council;  too agrees.

It is also a well known fact that 40% of GHG emissions and 60% of waste which is detrimental to our Ecosystem comes from Buildings or building related works.So there is clear & present danger. This danger must be addressed by all who understand the Environment Impact in our daily lives.

Now having these above numbers it makes enormous sense that during recession one must adopt the practice of making more Energy Efficient Buildings. Whether they follow the matrix set out in LEED rating system or India’s National rating GRIHA is more a matter of choice. A cheaper building a better living standard would almost always reduce expenditure in areas of   Safety,Health & Environment.

India which strives to be a Global player is as usual set to miss the bus, while Brazil & South Africa have taken the lead in taking the initiative for the C40 Cities for CDP, India has not and is in the same boat as China. For India it would be better to pursue the Environmental policy vigorously because of some fundamental reasons, the most important being that while the world was in turmoil in 2008 India was not greatly affected. This gives it the chance to become a leader in the Renewable Energy space by creating policy both at the power plant level but most importantly at the tail end level of roof-top RE. With the Indian people still woefully short of basic needs like Electricity & Water, having a strong Environmental policy and effective implementation of Green Building measure would keep India in good stead in every sense of security and prosperity a Country requires.

 

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Obama’s Better Building Initiative – a lesson for India


Some where in February 2011 President Obama of the USA, lauched the Better Building Initiative. He laid out his vision for winning the future by investing in innovative clean energy technologies and doubling the share of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. Alongside that effort, the President is proposing new efforts to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings across the country. Tax breaks, grants and loan guarantees will be among the initiatives to increase energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent in the next ten years. The President’s Better Buildings Initiative will make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade by catalyzing private sector investment through a series of incentives to upgrade offices, stores, schools and other municipal buildings, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. This initiative builds on USA’s investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and its  continued commitment to passing the President’s proposed “HOMESTAR” legislation to encourage American families to make energy saving upgrades in their homes. Improving energy efficiency in  buildings can create jobs, save money, reduce USA’s dependence on foreign oil, and make its  air cleaner.

In India we started practising LEED about 6 years ago and in the last 2 years also developed the National rating for Energy Efficient Buildings – GRIHA. We were perhaps the first few who understood the importance of Climate change and ratified the Kyoto protocol. In a poll on awareness about global warming, India has a rating of above 50%. Yet the USA which has not signed the Kyoto protocol and perhaps is one of the biggest polluter would surpass and excel India in its effort to make Climate resilient cities.

Simply because of the failings of our political class. The seer arrogance and blinkered approach it has towards any fresh ideas and its tendency to pat itself on the back on presumed achievements. The Government talks of creating world-class cities and hardly any original thought is applied, confusing and dogmatic approach is taken towards any town-planing which stifles growth and  breeds corruption.

If the Government chooses, it can make an effort to redevelop our cities in the same lines of President Obama, and give a new lease of life to our overburdened metropolises and at the same time create new job opportunities.The 12th JNNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Missionis on the anvil and serious thought on these lines must be given if we wish to create a safe and economically vibrant country.

 

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Popularity of Green Buildings: The Side Effects


Yesterday I was reading a construction magazine. It was the standard “Ho-hum” more like an information bulletin than anything to do with articles on building industry in India. So what struck me most were the advertisements, especially the new project launch adverts.

Almost each of them had in some way other named their project “Green”.It was either starting with the words like -“Green Acres“; Green Woods, the name of the company + Green. Some were highlighting how much greenery it was providing in terms of parks or flower-beds.

Now I know for a fact that as of today India has between its two Green Building rating system – IGBCLEED & TERI- GRIHA less than 2000 projects registered. So how was it that in the area of Mumbai & surrounding every second building is “Green”?

Well the answer is quite simple actually. We as Indians are born smart or at least some of us think we are ( in a population of 1. 20 Billion & counting “some” is quite large actually). Now the US of A gave us the word “Green Building” when we imported their sustainable building rating system LEED  { leadership in Energy & Environmental Design }. Nothing wrong with that, we Indians always have a fascination for all things imported and this LEED perhaps is the best thing that ever came to our shores.

The problem begins when the so called smart people, especially the “hobby builders/developer” as I like to call them start to use the term “Green” in their projects. Now what are “Hobby builders”- these usually are a group of investors whose main business may have given them a little spare cash and this they would like to invest in the building industry as in India – Roti, Kapada aur Maakan ( Food clothing & Shelter ) is an ever-growing demand. So these businessmen like to earn a little extra on the side. As profit is the main motive for at-least some of them, they use every trick in the book to popularize their product. They visit a few “Expo’s” collect a few brochures of the best builders and blindly copy the words therein. They neither understand what a Green Building mean nor would they ever spend that initial extra to make the building they build Energy Efficient Buildings, which by the way – “Green Building” stands for. Therefore one would find a clutch of fancy named buildings coming up which would usually be very poorly designed and inefficient in terms of saving of Energy & Water.

However there is hope, at least for an optimist like me. In the process of naming their project “Green” they are planting a few trees & having some soft-landscapes within the project. If one visits projects which were built just before the word Green started begin popular, especially in high density areas, it is a sad sight to behold. Ugly, ill-ventilated and with absolutely no space for a Green patch.

Although for every LEED or GRIHA rated building being designed in India at-least 500 “non-green” buildings are coming up. With Global Warming becoming a threatening reality each passing day, hope the so-called “Green” builders would truly start off on the path towards Energy Efficiency and Environmentally responsible   building design.

 

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Green House Gas:the invisible Killer


Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, includ...

About 40% of the Global Green House Gas (GHG) is emitted through building related activities and 60% of  this pollution occur post occupancy in form of municipal waste  etcetera to indirect pollution via consumption of electricity, which generally coming from Thermal Power plants which burn coal & is high on emission of pollution . There is an immediate and urgent need to reduce this pollution to keep our health and comfort to the optimum. To do this we must design Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which is low on pollution.

Now let us understand what is “pollution” to appreciate the immediate and urgent need for each one of us to act to reduce it in every sphere of our life-style.

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution became a popular issue after World War II, due to radioactive fallout from atomic warfare and testing. Then a non-nuclear event, “The Great Smog” of 1952 in London, killed at least 4000 people.

Pollution control is a term used in environmental management. In the hierarchy of controls, pollution prevention and waste minimization are more desirable than pollution control. In the field of land development, low impact development is a similar technique for the prevention of urban run-off.

Per capita anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissi...

Let us examine in brief the top 5 GHG : 1.CO2 :Carbon Dioxide. 2.CH4 :Methane. 3. N2O: Nitrous Oxide. 4. O3: Ozone  5. SP: Suspended Particles . A detailed report of the effects of these can be found in the internet, should one chooses to read. The chart shows how much GHG is emitted sector wise. However I think  SO2F2: Sulfuryl Fluoride should also be included in the top 5 as its more harmful than CO2.

Now there are also Naturally occurring greenhouse gases. They  include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). Several classes of halogenated substances that contain fluorine, chlorine, or bromine are also greenhouse gases, but they are, for the most part, solely a product of industrial activities. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are halocarbons that contain chlorine, while halocarbons that contain bromine are referred toas bromofluorocarbons (i.e., halons).  Some other fluorine containing halogenated substances—hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—do not deplete stratospheric ozone but are potent greenhouse gases.There are also several gases that, although they do not have a commonly agreed upon direct radiative forcing effect, do influence the global radiation budget. These tropospheric gases— referred to as ambient air pollutants—include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and tropospheric (ground level) ozone (O3). Tropospheric ozone is formed by two precursor pollutants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of ultraviolet light (sunlight). Aerosols—extremely small particles or liquid droplets—often composed of sulfur compounds, carbonaceous combustion products, crustal materials and other human induced pollutants— can affect the absorptive characteristics of the atmosphere.

So how does Pollution affect us, I mean the Human Body? The chart sums up most of it. However we live in and work in buildings which use various types of building materials most of them are cause of Environmental degradation which the common man is not aware of.

If we just take one example SF6;Now other than SF6 being 4,800 times worse than CO2 in the global warming scale, Sulfuryl fluoride is a gas fumigate that has been used — since the 1950s — to kill bugs and rodents in indoor structures, such as homes, warehouses, and railroad cars. It is also used in the Electricity sector, the magnesium industry, the electronic industry even as an adiabatic property applications, notably in tennis balls, shoe soles and also other applications, such gas-air tracer in research and leak detectors, for medical purposes, electronic applications, sound proof windows ( Double Glazed), degassing aluminium specialities etc.;

If we look more closely at global industrial emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and the ‘new’ gases HFCs, PFCs and SF6, then it shows that about half of them stem from CO2 emissions related to cement – clinker – production, ( a major product required for the building industry) about one-fifth can be attributed to adipic acid and nitric acid production and one-third stem from the three new gases, each with approximately equal contribution of about 10%.

The building industry is perhaps the biggest consumer of all that is produced in all other industrial sector, be it steel,cement, stone, wood,  leather, paper, paint, ceramic, glass, plastic, electrical & electronics; think of a product either in finished good or raw material, the building industry more often than not has a use for it. Thus emitting some form of pollution in the process. Purely from a Building Industry perspective without Sustainable Building design practice however high we build, we will fall prey to the catastrophe the GHG will bring in its wake in form of Global Warming & Climate Change.

To do this we need to develop life-style which is sustainable. Act without weighing the “additional cost factor” of going Green, which actually is very nominal and becomes Zero Sum within a very short time span. Internationaly we have Green Building programs such as LEED, BREEAM and GRIHA which is the Indian National rating system. India also has a Confederation of Indian Industries driven – Indian Green Building Council which is doing spectacular work.

I have condensed some of the references for easy read and adapted from Source(s):Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia; Observations of CAPIEL-UNIPEDE concerning the Revised IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories ; IPCC ; the U.S. EPA’s Global Warming web; Fluoride Action Network and others.

 

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Building A Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings


GHG emissions from building construction, reno...
Image via Wikipedia

The building sector can and should play a role in achieving the deep GHG reductions that science tells us are necessary to combat the threat of global warming. The building sector contribution to GHG emissions is mainly driven by its end use of, or demand for, electricity. This is a key difference from many other sectors where the main issue is emissions from the supply of energy. The building sector as a whole could reduce its share of GHG emissions by 30-35 per cent whilst accommodating growth in the overall number of buildings by 2050. This can be achieved by using today’s technology to significantly reduce the energy needed by residential and commercial buildings to perform the same services. For example, by replacing equipment with more energy-efficient models, at the natural replacement rate, and upgrading the performance of the building shell.

Detailed ‘bottom up’ analysis of energy efficiency opportunities suggests that net cost savings can be achievable in the medium to long-term. Rather than a cost per tonne of GHG abatement, many energy efficiency options have a positive financial payback in addition to providing abatement benefits. The payback period, can vary from a matter of months to many years. This finding is consistent with a large collection of case studies within the Country and overseas. When coupled with a broad-based GHG abatement target and a supporting policy environment, additional energy efficiency investments by the buildings sector would reduce the costs of change for the building sector and the economy at large.

Despite being cost neutral in the medium to long-term, achieving the additional GHG abatement action from the building sector faces challenges as well as opportunities.

1.Adopting energy efficiency strategies requires upfront investment by businesses and households to become more energy-efficient.

2.The benefits, or payback of these investments, are gradual, accruing over the medium to long-term, as savings on energy bills.

3.The building sector will need some additional incentives to overcome the impediments to change. These need to address a range of issues, such as the need to spur behavioural change, particularly to encourage adoption, and to offset the required upfront, direct capital expenditures.

4.Essentially, there is a need to encourage the rebuilding of our current building stock to upgrade the energy efficiency of assets within buildings to deliver a more   sustainable outcome.

5.The pay-off from investing in the energy efficiency potential of the building sector would flow through the entire economy by reducing the cost that others would face to  achieve their reduction in GHG emissions.

It is vital for government and the community at large to recognize the evidence showing the valuable role that demand side management and energy efficiency in the building sector can play in GHG abatement. Significant gains are available now without the need to invent and apply new technologies. They do not involve substantial risk or uncertainty and would provide significant gains now and into the future.

THE BUILDING SECTOR

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.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more soleoccupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration and

Defence

Education

Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:

1.  the amount of energy consumed;

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.

A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

THE ABATEMENT POTENTIAL

The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economical 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.

The potential for increased energy efficiency in the building sector has been estimated through a bottom up analysis to identify energy efficiency opportunities in the building sector. The analysis:

1.Examine like-with-like replacement of energy inefficient appliances and building services with more energy-efficient equivalents;

2.focus on additional application of existing technologies;

3.take into account the costs of change and the expected benefits from reduced energy costs; and

4.factor in expected population growth and sustained economic growth which tends to bring pressure for increased energy use.

For the potential energy efficiency investments a much wider range of options exits. This set, however, generally represents the diversity of existing, mature technologies.

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.

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; and

8.where possible use of co-, and tri-generation (that is, using heat discharged from on-site power generation for water heating, and for absorption air-conditioning etc).

Energy efficiency measures would take time to be adopted by households and business. Analysis of the technical possibilities suggests the potential for GHG abatement is between 57 Mt and 66 Mt per annum by 2030. This would increase to between 86 Mt and 98 Mt by 2050.

Facts

• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%

• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt

• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%

• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. At energy prices proportionate to oil at US$ 60 per barrel, building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totaling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.

There are three key elements to

achieving progress:

– Use less energy

– Make more energy (locally)

– Share surplus energy (through an intelligent grid).

The most significant, long-term gains will come from using less energy.

Note: The data has been collected form various noted publications and condensed for easy understanding.

 

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Carbon Credit in Green Buildings


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate...

Carbon Credits are generated by enterprises in the developing world that shift to cleaner technologies and thereby save on energy consumption, consequently reducing their green house gas emissions. For each ton of carbon dioxide (major GHG) emission avoided, the entity can get a carbon emission certificate which they can sell either immediately or through a futures market, just like any other commodity. The certificates are sold to entities in rich countries, like power utilities, which have emission reduction targets to achieve and find it cheaper to buy ‘offsetting’ certificates rather than do a clean-up in their own backyard. This trade is carried out under an UN-mandated international convention on climate change to help rich countries reduce their emissions.

There is a great need to reduce energy consumption in all sectors of the economy. Building Construction consumes vast natural resources, and building account for 40% of Global Energy use. The pre-construction phase is the optimal time to implement Energy Efficient design with minimal costs. Some results indicate that savings realized during the first twenty years of operation can account for more than 15% of construction costs.

The above paragraphs sums up in brief the basics of this discussion. The first one is the need to build Energy Efficient Buildings ( EEB‘s ) and the second to find the additional expense. Every one knows that to build an EEB one has to spend more than normal. Now the idea is how to get back the additional money spent.

Both in GRIHA  & LEED  the return on the investment is proven over time on various projects Pan India. However most of the data I have seen point to Institutional or Commercial  or Corporate projects. It is comparatively easy to map and maintain year on year energy reduction of buildings where the user would normally conform to the same pattern of use and adhere to the building maintenance and use guidelines  stipulated by the owner.

Moreover it is comparatively easy to explain prospective Corporate or Commercial clients wanting to do a Green Building the advantages and returns as mostly it would be for self use and benefits accrued are directly debited to them. The difficulty lies however in convincing the Builder / Developer who by default would make a core & shell edifice and sell it. This format is true for both residential & commercial projects they undertake. So explaining this group to go for EEB is a little difficult. This does not discount the fact that almost all big and reputed builder developers are already adopting Green Building norms and getting their projects certified in one rating or the other. In India both GRIHA     ( Green Building for Integrated Habitat Assessment ) the National Green building rating system and the CII led IGBC – LEED Certification are prevalent.

The Indian Green Building Council guided and supported by the Confederation of Indian Industries has a larger building foot print  under their rating system than GRIHA as of today. Under IGBC a continuously evolving and user participation based organization, which is quick to understand the business opportunities in sustainable practice has under its command a host of rating systems for different typology and yet for the common good of reducing Global warming & abatement of Climate change. Certification & Rating such as LEED -India CS, LEED -India NC, IGBC – Green Homes, IGBC – Green Township, IGBC – Green Factories and the latest being IGBC -Green CO.

What I have been proposing is using this brilliant rating system for large projects called ” Green Township”   map the reduction in energy and apply the existing methodology approved by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC ) for earning Carbon Credit. This money which one can earn through Carbon credit would not be sufficient to make profit, Carbon fund can be availed only by proving “additionality” which means the project must have incurred expense by which profit is diminished when compared to a base case;but it has been designed in such a way that it would definitely help offset part of the cost of going “Green”. I know I can do it and I propose other architects to do the same for builder/developers. In this manner we as professionals will be able to provide true value sustainable habitats for our country.

There are two methods by which one can earn Carbon Credits in Green Buildings. The first is mapping the reduction of materials used which is done when a building goes through the rating process; as each material has its own embodied energy, the reduction in its use would thereby help reduce the GHG emission. This however is quite difficult because the MRV (monitoring,  reporting and verification) process would be very cumbersome especially when applied to the way the construction process is in India. It could leave too many gaps which require careful thought and stringent process to be absolutely sure that the method applied is sound both academically and practically.

The next process is to map the reduction in electrical energy and water consumption.  This is a simpler method and use of RE which already has proven methodology helps getting the CDM process. As India is encouraging Solar Photo voltaic, both  roof-top or “green-power” wheeled from off-site location would qualify to earn Carbon Credits.

 

 

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GRIHA: the Indian answer to Climate change.


India has in its Parliament declared that 25% of GHG will be reduced by the efforts of the Government by year 2020. The Government of India under the under the Leadership vision of the PM set about its task of formulating Eight action plans to combat Climate change. The National Missions are to be institutionalized by the respective Ministries and will be organized through inter-sectoral groups. The National Action Plan for Climate Change  ( NAPCC )are;

National Solar Mission,
National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency,
National Mission on Sustainable Habitat,
National Water Mission,
National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-system,
National Mission for a Green India,
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and
National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.

On this page we shall discuss the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat.

The Government of India, entrusted the formulation of a  National rating system to The Energy and Resources Institute {TERI} a research and policy organization, which does original work and provides professional support in areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology and the conservation of natural resources to government departments, institutions and corporate organisations world wide.

Under the able leadership of TERI’s Director General,the brilliant and famous PADMA BHUSAN  Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri; who, having immense experience in various field like Economics, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and currently Chairman of IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was established by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 ) and supported by a stupendous dedicated team at its’ Sustainable Habitat Division, head by divisional Director Ms.Milli Mazumdar studied all the rating systems in the world currently in practice and then decided to establish a rating system so brilliant that even a simple citizen of Rural or Tier -III town can have his building rated and certified, built on the experience of local Masons.

This simplicity and grass root upward approach  of  Sustainable Building Certification was aptly named – GRIHA ( Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment ). Today GRIHA is promoted by  Association for Development and Research for Sustainable Habitats ( ADaRSH ) under the secretariat of MNRE.  GRIHA is in compliance with Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC), Environment Impact Assessment (EIA), National building Code (NBC), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) guidelines and thus compliments the National Action Plan perfectly.

The Government of India to is promoting GRIHA by making it mandatory for all Central Government & Public Sector Unit projects to follow GRIHA and achieve 3- star rating minimum. In the 12th JNNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,  a massive city modernisation scheme launched by Government of India; it would be mandatory to achieve GRIHA rating. The Reserve Bank of India ( RBI ) through its wholly owned subsidiary the National Housing Bank  ( NHB ), is contemplating an instrument by which 0.25% of interest subsidy would be given by all Banks, to loan taken for projects undergoing GRIHA compliance. The State Bank of India  in already providing this rebate. The Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MoEF ) has announced that it would come out with a ruling whereby EIA will not be mandatory for projects under GRIHA rating.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy ( MNRE )  too has its own bouquet of sops for project going for GRIHA rating.


 

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