Green architecture: The survival kit for the 21st century
Khozema Chitalwala, principal architect and designer of Designers Group, shares his views on green architecture
The word ‘green’ itself triggers a concatenation of words in our heads, like plants, organic, planet or sustainability. And this further induces a sense of responsibility in us towards our immediate environs. With the shooting up of skyscrapers every now and then, cities are emerging as packed encampments for job aspirants & more immigrants apart from their originals. These concrete structures add 40% of the gas emissions to the greenhouse effect as per a UN report last year. And other perilous issues like climate change, global warming, population, air pollution etc. are just like adding eggs to the basket.
So, we have issues? Yes.
There are problems that need to be addressed? Yes.
How can we, as architects, play a role?
How does green architecture help in prevention?
How about we dig deep and add solutions to these 40% of gas emitters. The definition of green architecture goes beyond the addition of solar panels or green façades; it's designing and construction of a space/ building with rudiments which are eco-friendly & sustainable. A building which “generates all of its own energy with renewable non-toxic resources, captures and treats all of its water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty” is a definition by The Cascadia Region Green Building Council. Pondering over all these explanations and different notions of ‘green architecture’, we can enumerate certain characteristics which fall under the umbrella of the above. Commencing from the basics, these can be classified under two: passive or active. Passive measures include the design of windows, natural lighting, orientation, insulation etc. A good & sustainable design can be achieved when these measures are taken in consideration during the design charrette. Measures that are technical or mechanical systems are used to achieve the sustainable aspect of a building. Examples like rain-water harvesting systems and solar panels fall under this column.
As a reverence act towards nature and the environment, we are under an obligation to design buildings which are not just aesthetically and functionally sound, but that also achieve the standards of eco-friendly outcome. At our studio, we – as a team – try to introduce sustainable ideas from scratch. Studying and scrutinising our hospitality deliverables, especially hotels like Gift International Club, we incline ourselves to conserve maximum energy, whether it is electrical or human to bring out the sustainability aspect of the built. Practices of recycle & reuse are followed by all our major design schemes. A mandatory introduction of water treating systems is followed in all our hotels. Conversion of garbage to manure or OT systems further act as green features added to our practices. Another on the list, we are extremely cautious about the lighting aspect of each project. Particularly, spaces like guest rooms are given utmost importance. Each and every space is pre-designed and mock-ups assist us in the perfect lighting, which is neither under or over engineered.
Sustainability is not just a mandatory aspect, but also a duty as a designer to paint the skyline with the foundations of eco-friendly footings. We believe our puppy steps with each and every deliverable will definitely do our bit in the bigger picture of contributing towards nature.