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The IIT model at work

The lab technician with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) may not be fluent in English but he is very careful about environment conservation.

mumbai Updated: Jun 05, 2010 01:34 IST
Kiran Wadhwa
Kiran Wadhwa
Hindustan Times

Ramakant Bhandare segregates the wet waste from the dry, be it at home or at his workplace.

The lab technician with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) may not be fluent in English but he is very careful about environment conservation.

The 550-acre Powai campus, nestled between hills and a lake, is one of the first educational institutions to attempt to create an environmentally sustainable campus on such a large scale. Sustainability means relying on resources generated on campus. And it is people like Bhandare, who make this possible. “Saving the environment is not only about introducing energy saving devices. It is about changing people’s mindset and making them want to save the environment,” said Shyam Asolekar professor at IIT-B’s Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering.

The institute is committed to becoming a model campus with regard to environmental conservation. The Green Campus Initiative Committee set up in February is a step towards that. The committee will soon submit its recommendations to formulate an eco policy for the campus.

“From dedicated no-vehicle zones in the academic areas to only electronic communication and proper disposal of e-waste, there are several measures we want to implement,” said Asolekar who has created the eco policy report for the campus.

The team first calculated the resource usage on campus under various sectors. The energy bill for the campus for 2007 was Rs 10.2 crore. Air conditioning consumed the largest chunk of energy, nearly 40 per cent. To reduce this, the committee has recommended energy efficient ACs and solar water heaters.

The 13 hostels and one project staff hostel generate 150 kg of solid waste daily. This is in addition to the 2,500 kg from each of their canteens. The report has recommended re-starting the two existing biogas plants, each with a 300-kg capacity.

The campus is a bit of a laboratory experimenting with various methods to save their environment. In hostel no.10, the girls hostel, heat generated from the two ACs in the computer lab is used to heat water. The energy generated from it is used to cool potable water. “We usually don’t have ACs in hostels so when this hostel came up we decided to use the ACs effectively,” said Milind Rane, energy technology consultant at IIT-B. Students use only bicycles—the yellow Yo! Bike that operates on a rechargeable battery is popular—and CNG buses transport people within the campus. Even the latest issue of the campus journal, Raintree, is dedicated to the environment.

Damayanti Bhattacharya, who works at the alumni association office on campus said, “Ours is an office with no air conditioners. Bombay 76, our souvenir shop, stocks only eco-friendly products and there is no plastic anywhere. We try and recycle paper (for printing), minimise the use of paper cups.”

Bhattacharya, who is married to a faculty member and lives on campus, is very proud of the fact that hers is one of the rare six-apartment buildings on campus without a single AC. The family does not even own a car.

The campus also has solar-powered streetlights and water recycling plants and its very own forest, soneri bagh. On some days, you will see little scribbled notices outside laboratories: ‘Careful! Snake was spotted here in the morning.’ The enterprising student would have even drawn a snake to ensure no one gets it wrong. Three years ago, when Bill Gates visited IIT-B, he said he was surprised to have found the picture of a leopard spotted on campus on their home page.

First Published: Jun 05, 2010 01:33 IST