Impact on Land
Any construction process impacts and modifies local ecology. For an environmentally sensitive architect, it is crucial to analyse the nature of these impacts to take correct decisions.
We can measure a construction project’s impact by understanding the interplay of factors shaping the local ecology: geographical location, land topography, rivers and waterways, rainwater catchments and our interventions in each of these.
In many cities, a misunderstanding or miscalculation of environmental impacts has led to many harmful interventions and developments in areas better suited as green belts. The negative impact of these developments is seen when disaster strikes communities in places that are inappropriate for construction. The Begur and Bommanahalli neighbourhoods in Bangalore are examples of low-lying areas that were converted and sold as residential plots and now make headlines for severe flooding that prevents residents from even entering their homes.
Energy and Architecture
In the planning of an environmentally sustainable building, strong considerations are given to maximise the building’s energy efficiency and reduce the energy expended throughout the construction process.
It is a little-known fact that the construction industry is one of the world’s greatest contributors of greenhouse gases, and in some countries, forms 50% of the total carbon dioxide emissions.
India’s recent economic growth has led to an unprecedented construction boom, and the building industry’s contribution to the country’s fast-growing CO2 emission load is increasing. It is for this reason that ecological architecture assigns such a high priority to energy expenditure.
Integrated Water Management
In the absence of a concerted centralized effort to manage water sustain-ably, more and more residents and institutions are taking steps toward safeguarding their own long-term water security. A result of these efforts is the emergence of a new framework for sustainable, decentralized water management. The critical elements of this framework include:
1. Water Conservation and Demand Management – Cutting back on water use and waste-water discharge at the individual and collective levels is at the heart of water sustainability.
2. Groundwater Management – Groundwater is acknowledged as a common property resource that must not be indiscriminately “mined”. Special consideration is given to replenishing aquifers and limiting the digging of new borewells.
3. Wastewater Management – Wastewater should be discharged at a quality as close as possible to that of the source water. If not, the pollutants released may eventually contaminate our sources. It is also important to explore potential wastewater reuses.
A sustainable environment will not be achieved by looking solely at the physical world. We consider social responsibility an imperative component of any project which we approach from two angles: “For whom and where” and “By whom and how”.
“For whom and where” is rooted in the needs of the client and the community in which they live, making them the primary concern in our designs. We give careful thought to accessibility for differently-abled individuals, such as the elderly or those with physical disabilities. We also assign considerable weight to local aesthetic and cultural values.
“By whom and how” gives consideration to the players in the construction process. Workers in India’s construction industry often suffer from a lack of dignity, pay, and even basic training. Frequently migrating from rural areas where they leave behind family, land and greater social status, these workers converge upon urban areas with hopes of economic advancing. Our designers are aware of the efforts of these workers, and believe that assuming some responsibility toward due training and proper recognition of good work, can go a long way to furthering their lot. Additional responsibilities include ensuring that no child labour is employed at site and that all workers are offered insurance against accident or injury.