World Environment Day 2022: Easy fixes to make your house eco friendly - Hindustan Times
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World Environment Day 2022: Easy home interior decor fixes to make your house eco friendly

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi
Jun 04, 2022 01:36 PM IST

A greater need for energy is linked to the depletion of natural resources. Ahead of World Environment Day 2022, here are a few tips by home interior decor experts on easy fixes to make your house eco friendly

The first step towards making any household ecologically sensitive is for the members to become conscious of the footprint that their everyday activities are leaving on the environment and these include the use of resources along with the manner of waste disposal, which have a direct impact on the natural resources being extracted for our utility. This World Environment Day, it is important to understand that every form of construction has some impact on the environment since sustainable design goes beyond adding certain elements to a building as it is a fundamental value system.

World Environment Day 2022: Easy home interior decor fixes to make your house eco friendly (Blue Bird)
World Environment Day 2022: Easy home interior decor fixes to make your house eco friendly (Blue Bird)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Amit Khanna, Design Principal at Amit Khanna Design Associates shared, “No one climatic definition can be applied to the entire country. India is warm for the most part. It is well established that over 75% of the heat into space comes from the roof. Therefore, insulating the terrace roof is essential to provide interior thermal comfort. An unfortunate result of lack of insulation is the over-reliance on the air conditioning or air cooling, leading to increased electricity bills. Apart from the an impact on the wallet, the increased electrical load is also an issue for climate change.”

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Given that a greater need for energy is linked to the depletion of natural resources, the question arises - what can we do to insulate our roofs more sustainably? How can we make them cool? Amit Khanna answered, “There are three key strategies for increasing your roof's insulating capacity, and each has its distinct advantages. First, if you are in the planning stages of your project or in the construction phase, add insulation above the RCC, but below the final finishing. The way to do this is to first add a layer of waterproofing over the RCC roof and take it up to the side walls. Then, above this layer, add your insulating material. You can use readily available expanded polystyrene (XPS) sheets.”

He added, “The second and most convenient way of insulating the roof is to reflect and shade. If you have an existing plaster finish terrace, paint it a light colour, and it will reflect a lot of the heat. The other technique is to provide shade, and this is best achieved by putting a lot of plants on the terrace, so the sunlight does not hit the terrace directly. You can also consider suspending a green screen over the terrace. To conclude, integrating passive insulation on your terrace is a far more energy-efficient way of providing thermal comfort within buildings. It reduces the need for air-conditioning and keeps the building cooler for longer. Keep your roof cool and your home eco-friendly.”

Apart from focusing on the roof, water is increasingly becoming a scarcity in all Indian cities and Anand Sharma, Founder and Partner of Design Forum International suggests that it is a very simple step to switch to low-flow fixtures wherever possible, so as to reduce the amount of water being consumed every time we open a tap. He said, “There are a lot of ongoing motivational campaigns that educate one about the right ways to dispose of household waste. Segregating organic kitchen waste from non-organic waste like plastic and paper is an important step. A compost pit within the house or within an apartment complex, shared by multiple households, would be a responsible step further.”

Thirdly, he pointed out, “One has to be aware of the orientation of the house, since it determines the direction of the windows, which is where the house gains the bulk of solar heat from. If it is a single-family home or the top floor of a building, the roof also contributes to the heat gain. Simple solutions are found in finishing the terrace surface with SRI paints, which reflect solar radiation and can lower indoor air temperatures by as much as 5 degrees centigrade. Summing it up, ecological sensitivity start with being mindful of what we are extracting, how we’re disposing of, as well as what we’re leaving behind.”

Recommending simple ways to design sustainable homes, Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect at Architecture Discipline, revealed, “The simplest way to incorporate sustainability at the design stage is to orient the building for least heat gain and optimal entry of daylight and fresh air. Orienting the building based on a study of the sun path can result in lower energy consumption associated with artificial lighting and mechanical cooling. Double-glazed openings are also an effective way to let in light without the heat in existing construction. For a building to be truly sustainable, it also needs to be designed with flexibility in mind.”

He highlighted, “Well designed buildings adapt to evolving needs without the need for resource-heavy modifications. An adaptable framework with well-serviced and well-lit spaces that can be used for multiple activities in the short term also offers the possibility of a longer life span for a building and a variety of possible long-term uses. From the city to the spoon, we need to learn to grow our own food, generate our own energy and treat our waste-I believe this is the miracle needed to save humanity.”

He concluded, “Our buildings need to be designed to be self-sufficient. They must be equipped to harness their own power with limited dependence on the city grid. Techniques such as hydroponics and aeroponics can also allow one to grow their own food in grow rooms and kitchen gardens. Each building must also treat its own waste on-site. Taking care of one’s own waste will also encourage responsible resource consumption.”

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