Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ecological Building


I have been learning to "Build" ecologically. And its high time that I
share some of what I've learnt so far.
The question: How does one go about building a house Ecologically?

To understand that its important to know:
What is it that one does to harm the Ecology/Environment?

High energy consuming materials are not suited to Ecology.
Production of Energy e.g. Electricity consumes a lot of resources. e.g.
Wood, Coal and such materials.
Also the process of burning these materials in large quantities
produces a lot of Carbon and carbon based gases that are now being
absorbed by the atmosphere and leading to the Green house effect.
Hence, one's continuous trial should be to reduce this burden on
environment as much as possible.

William Rees coined this concept of Ecological Footprint. Which is an analysis of how much demand a structure makes on
nature in terms of natural resources, energy, biomass, food, building
material, water etc.
It isnt always necessary to calculate the exact footprint, but
understanding of the basics makes it much easier to build so.
Building construction is one of the industries that has harmed
Ecology most. We've therefore begun to now experience all the harm
that Green house gases could create.

What are the aspects that lead to a larger Ecological footprint? :

1. Usage of materials that are manufactured at large levels, in ways
that consume a lot of energy/fossil fuels.

2. Usage of materials that are dependant on Petroleum products.
Petroleum industry being one of the largest energy consuming


3. Use of materials that have run a long distance to reach the place of
use. Local materials on the other hand make the footprint smaller.

4. the amount of Ecology in terms of trees and water destroyed in the
process of construction.

5. The amount of material wasted in the process of construction.
The conclusion being that Cement - though a natural material we
should discourage using in high quantities because of its

manufacturing process.
check the "Cement Making Processes" section here

Aluminum being the highest energy consuming material and Steel a
little distant from it. The attempt should be to reduce the usage of
these materials.

How can the building structure be suited to the Ecology?

1. By building the structure to suit its immediate environment

2. By designing the structure to use as many locally available
materials as possible.

3. By reducing the use of steel and cement and such high energy
consuming materials.

4. By making terrace gardens and green spaces in every space possible
around and in the structure.

5. By using as many alternative sources of energy possible and being
less dependant on the conventional form of energy.

6. By re using and recycling all the waste produced.

7. By harvesting rain water (which is the purest form of water
available to us) and recycling and using all waste water produced in
the structure.


It will take a whole new stream of thinking to be able to adapt such a
lifestyle, but sooner or later it'll be become an absolute necessity that
each and every individual think of their immediate environment.


aspiring annapoorna said...

Hey! good to see your first post on the topic...look fwd to more.
Would just like to add that I disagree with terming cement as a 'natural' material...yes, limestone is natural, but cement goes through enough to make in 'unnatural'
Secondly, I think the only REAL way to be sustainable is to consciously reduce consumption...using natural materials may be less toxic, but if everyone starts building with limestone, there will be no mountains left...

Ram said...

The buildings in the photos look really nice. Just curious, where are these being built?

Manu Sharma said...

Nice post. Looking forward to read more about your experiences - green buildings you have been involved in and their various architectural / material related aspects that make them green and less energy intensive.

Keep writing!

perspective said...

@Ram: These buildings are being built in Bangalore. Thanks :)

And thanks a lot Manu ... I plan to write more! :)

debbie said...

cudnt get ur name from the blog...i am used to blog...
actually am also an architect, a fresh gradute from spa delhi....i was very keen on ecological building and sustainable architecture...i also trained in costford in my 4th year...
but right now i still feel ill equiped 2 pursue this field....can u tell me if there is ne masters programe which deals with studies realted in this india or abroad...the info wud b very helpful for me...thanks

rahul mehrotra said...

nice info, for sure these are gr8 lines for nature lovers like us :)

NAUTILUS said...

Hi, I found this blog interesting as I am planning to build a new home with the lowest possible environmental impact . But I am almost lost reading some of the paragraphs.. I would appreciate if you could clear few doubts.

"Also the process of burning these materials in large quantities
produces a lot of Carbon and carbon based gases that are now being
absorbed by the atmosphere and leading to the Green house effect."

did you really mean "absorbed by the atmosphere"?

is that building's roof, shown in the picture, made of reinforced concrete?

Is it true that (Portland?)cement is a natural material?

What are the many alternative sources of energy which can be used in my home? and is there any ready to be used product/system to convert and store energy available? How large will be these product's/system's carbon footprint?

What are the affordable ways to recycle grey and black water from my home?

Thanks in advance