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Building green Delhi

It’s the design of some buildings in the city that are going ‘green’, a concept that focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use while reducing building impact on the environment. Avishek G Dastidar reports.What makes them ‘green’?

delhi Updated: Jun 05, 2009 01:01 IST
Avishek G. Dastidar

Green is in.

No, we are not talking about the colour green.

It’s the design of some buildings in the city that are going ‘green’, a concept that focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use while reducing building impact on the environment.

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2010, the tribe of such buildings is growing rapidly in the Capital.

“At present, around 30 new projects from Delhi are waiting to be certified as green buildings,” said S. Raghupathy, senior director at the Indian Green Building Council. “More proposals are pouring in. They range from malls, office space, hotels to private homes.”

The Indian Green Building Council, a Hyderabad-based national body backed by the Confederation of Indian Industry, certifies green buildings according to the U.S. standards.

These buildings in the city, many of them under construction at present, stand apart from other concrete structures because of their oddities that help in fighting the battle against global warming.

The under-construction building meant to be the headquarter of Development Alternatives, an NGO, coming up in South Delhi’s Qutub Institutional Area is one such example.

The building has been designed to save every possible ounce of power. The six-storey structure will use glass reflectors to direct sunlight and light up areas. It will also recycle water for non-drinking purposes.

With plans to stop all cooling machines in winters, it targets “zero-emission”.

“A same building of this magnitude will use 30 to 40 per cent more electricity,” said architect Ashok Lal, who has designed many green buildings in Delhi, including the one for Development Alternatives. “It just needs designing with common sense and use of natural methods to cut down on electricity for lighting and cooling.”

Generation of power involves huge carbon dioxide gas emissions from the plants' chimneys (this emission is the root cause of global warming).

Reduction in use of electricity directly reduces emissions and there are a number of innovative ways to reduce power consumption.

The campus of Teri University, a private institution located in Vasant Kunj in South Delhi, has vents around its building that suck in air.

The air is then passed through an underground tunnel and released inside. Since underground temperature is lower than surface temperature, air is cooler when it is released inside the building.

“The building also has a system of sucking in ambient air at night and using it for cooling during the day,” said P.P. Bhojvaid, dean of the university. “It’s called thermal storage cooling.”

The under-construction headquarters of Municipal Corporation of Delhi, a 28-storey building, will use solar power for cooling and lighting.

Delhi Transco’s building is using bricks of flyash (a waste of coal power generation) for construction.
The government has joined the bandwagon in a big way.

“All government projects, not just offices but housing quarters as well, will be green buildings,” said D.S. Sachdeva, director general (Works), of Central Public Works Department, the biggest building agency of the government. “We have passed internal orders to adhere to these practices and reduce the carbon footprint in the government sector.”

The department, which has codified green building techniques for all future projects, has tied up with The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), an NGO, for guidelines.

Delhi’s Public Works Department too has decided to follow the green code for all upcoming state hospitals.

But as George C. Verughese, president of Development Alternatives, said: “A building can stay only as green as the people using it.”

So, around 250 employees of the NGO have also taken the pledge to go without artificial cooling in winters at their new office. The air-conditioning system will work at 28 degrees Celsius (as opposed to the usual 22 degrees) during the monsoon months.

“And for the dry summer months between April and June, they have agreed to switch on only coolers,” said Verughese.