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Habitat Observatory

    Indian Green Building Rating System and its First Platinum Rated Green Home
  Construction is one of the fastest growing sectors in India which also has a far reaching impact on the environment due to various reasons such as exploitation of natural resources, consumption of water and energy in construction and operation of buildings, pollution during manufacturing and transportation of building materials etc.

The Green Building Concept is an innovative approach to address these issues by adopting sustainable practices like efficient use of natural resources, reuse and recycling of waste, use of renewable energy and energy efficient fixtures while planning, designing, constructing, operating and maintaining a building throughout its lifecycle.

The Green Building Rating System is an evaluation tool used to assess greenness of the buildings which have undertaken sustainable building practices. In India, the initiative to define and measure ‘Green Buildings’ started in 2003 after formation of the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and it has ultimately led to the development of a rating system called ‘LEED India Version 1’. It is a performance oriented system based on the total credits earned through compliance of various parameters like site selection, efficiency in water usage, renewable energy use, efficient use of natural resources etc.

India’s First Platinum Rated Green Home

Mr. UV Krishna Mohan Rao, Dr. Uma Devi and their daughter Dr. UV Nivedita, believe in being responsible, green citizens. In 2008, they approached P. Ravi Architects Private Limited in Chennai for the construction of their green home. ‘Viswa Syamalam’, their house has complied with all the prerequisites of IGBC’s LEED India rating system for making a Green Home. Following are some of the interesting features of their green home:

  • Viswa Syamalam is a water positive home having incorporated features of rain water harvesting, recycling and water conservation methods and practices.
  • Care has been taken for effective orientation of windows, walls, porches for good ventilation and light. Plants and creeper shading provide and aid heat and dust ingress and help in good ventilation.
  • This eco friendly home uses natural light to a great extent. From sunrise to sunset not a single electric lamp is required to be used in any part of the house. Be it the kitchen, living room, rest rooms – every nook and corner of the house takes advantage of natural light.
  • Nearly 90% of all the materials sourced for Viswa Syamalam have been locally manufactured, thus ensuring minimal use of fossil fuels during construction. This property has also used recycled and reused materials to ensure minimal use of virgin resources. For example, packaging wood has been re-used for making the compound wall gate and furniture.
  • Eco-friendly building materials like fly-ash blocks, recycled steel, reclaimed wood, bamboo screens etc. have been used in this house.
  • Solar water heater has been provided for bathrooms and the kitchen. Most people aspire to build a house during their lifetime. ‘Viswa Syamalam’ is an inspiring example of what normal people can do to fulfill their dream while being eco – friendly.

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    Anti Sesimic - Koti Banal Architecture
  The Himalayan states of Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh have exhibited a tradition of constructing anti-seismic multistoried houses using Koti Banal architecture style. It is reported that buildings of the Koti Banal architecture have withstood and performed well during many past damaging earthquakes in the Himalayan region in which many new buildings collapsed while these structures did not suffer any damage.

This architecture was initiated over 200 years ago when the building codes or earthquake safe designs were unheard of. They have been practiced much before the emergence of concepts of science and before the evolution of science of earthquakes and related matters. Despite all these odds the designs of the multistoried houses seem to follow the present day building codes of earthquake safety, especially in terms of length to width ratio of the houses and single, small entry of the houses.

This style further demonstrates the existence of elaborate construction procedures based on principles somewhat akin to that of blockhouse construction. Many features of these buildings are considered as the basics of modern earthquake-resistant design. Generally, ornate multistoried houses with abundant use of wooden beams are characteristic of Rajgarhi area. For buildings of the Koti Banal architecture, locally available building materials such as long thick wooden logs, stones and slates were judiciously used.

The four walls of the house were raised using the wooden logs and dressed up, flat, rectangular blocks of rocks alternatively. Often the structure is reinforced with the help of wooden beams fixed alternately, that run from the middle of the walls on one side to the other; intersecting at the centre. This arrangement divided the building in to four parts and provides for joists supporting the floorboards in each floor of the building. The top two floors have a balcony with a wooden railing running around on all four sides. Different floors are connected with specially designed ladders. Wooden framework supports the slates of the roof.

The height of these structures varies between 7 and 12 m above the base platform which consists of dry stones. These structures are observed to have four (Chaukhat) doorways and five (Panchapura) stories.

Koti Banal architecture style buildings have outlived so many centuries mainly because of their structural configuration.

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