Unending Benefits of Sustainable Buildings

solar-powered-buildingThe concept of sustainable building was started during 17th century when Greeks developed technological innovations for passive solar design so that every home can avail solar heat during winters. Sustainable building is designed, renovated, operated or reused in an ecological and resource efficient way without compromising with needs of future generation and reduce negative impacts on the environment. In addition to energy efficiency and resource conservation, sustainable buildings make judicious use of renewable energy.

Sustainable building is focused on reducing energy consumption by HVAC units and lighting systems as they are major contributor to energy consumption during and post-construction.  Some of the salient features of sustainable building are listed below:

  • Use of fly ash ready mix concrete or light weight concrete / cavity walls for insulation and sustainability.
  • Use of roof insulation method like expanded polystyrene roof insulation or reflective painting etc.
  • Recycling of wastewater for landscaping and use of fluidized aerobic bio-reactor sewage treatment plant.
  • Landscaping with endemic plants which require less water and pesticides.
  • Use of energy efficient lights, like LEDs and CFLs,
  • Maximizing use of natural light by design and orientation of building.
  • Rain water harvesting measures with zero drainage to municipal drains.
  • Use of renewable energy like solar, biomass and wind energy sources.
  • Installation of CO2 monitors in the buildings and regular check on them.
  • Underground parking to reduce heat island effects.
  • Separate dustbins for recyclable and non-recyclable waste.

Benefits of Sustainable Building

Sustainable buildings have not only proven effective in conserving energy but have also led to technological advancements in renewable energy and resource conservation. Major benefits of sustainable building includes

  • Energy conservation – Dependency on non-renewable sources of energy is minimum, design is mostly on basis of renewable sources.
  • Storm water management – water at high flow can erode top most soil, causing land sliding, and removal of fertile soil. Sustainable buildings incorporate rain water harvesting and proper drainage management to minimize storm water and reduce wastage of water.
  • Reduced GHG Emissions: In a conventional building, the maximum emission of harmful radiations is from concrete cement wall. Concrete cement emits 14% of CO2 per ton. Preferable material for construction is modern cement with include 84% Portland having very low emission rate of 0.9% of CO2 per ton. Sustainable buildings are provided to absorb radiations, thus harmful radiations are prevented from entering the building.
  • Water Conservation: Water from kitchen, toilet, basin are collected and recycled, reducing operation cost upto 20-30% and wastage of water upto 30-50%.
  • Minimizing Urban Heat Island Effect: The heat retention properties of tall buildings and urban materials such as concrete and asphalt are the primary causes of urban heat island effect. Conscientious building design and site selection, as well as planting trees to accompany new developments may offset a majority of these conditions.
  • Improved Air Quality: Effective indoor air quality is maintained creating healthy lifestyle and good surrounding.

Must for Sustainable Buildings

  1. Use of simple, effective and better energy performance materials which emit less carbon dioxide.
  2. Design orientation of building should be proper to get more light and avoid heat radiations.
  3. Insulated glass windows should be preferred, windows and walls made of concrete cement emit very high contents of CO2. , insulated glasses to absorb heat radiations and emit less CO2.
  4. During and after construction, cement is hazardous for breathing. During construction dust particles enter the lungs causing severe health problems. Post construction, it emit CO2 at 14% per ton. For Sustainable buildings, several materials can be used for wall construction: Wool brick formed by adding wool and natural polymer found in seaweed to the clay of brick having 37% more strength than burnt bricks. Solar Tiles are good for absorbing heat energy from the sun. triple glazed. Triple glazed window is highly preferred because of its super high efficiency of providing resistance to heat radiations.
Salient Features of a Sustainable Building

Salient Features of a Sustainable Building

  1. Organic waste from kitchen, toilet and household equipment can be used for generating biogas, meeting the energy requirement for cooking and also prove beneficial for solid waste management.
  2. Rain water harvesting
  3. Solar panels for lighting, electricity and hot water bath to reduce dependency on non-renewable sources of energy
  4. Drip irrigation to efficiently irrigate plants and landscaping in and around the building.

Sameer Usmani

Sameer Usmani is a Design Engineer and Researcher who graduated from Aligarh Muslim University (Aligarh, India) in Mechanical Engineering. He has good experience in the design of sustainable buildings, HVAC system and energy conservation equipment. His primary aim is to utilize technical knowledge into creating sustainable buildings with special focus on reducing energy consumption by HVAC systems. Sameer can be contacted at usmanisamy1@gmail.com

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