EXCLUSIVE: Here are a few traditional ways to make your house green
The new-age building construction and energy usage pattern have been known to have an alarmingly adverse effect on the environment. As a result of which, the trend to revisit the roots has arisen. Traditional building design and construction techniques offer a strong foundation for green building design. Across the globe, architects and designers are reincorporating traditional design strategies and elements to create building designs and plans which maximise airflow, mitigate the impact on the local environment while offering a comfortable living environment for their users.
A lot of design elements and materials from traditional architecture such as courtyards, thick insulated walls, natural light and ventilation, water bodies etc. are being incorporated in the present day by adding a touch of modernity to them.
Amongst these various elements of Indian Traditional Architecture, courtyards and their remarkable benefits in reducing environmental impact have been known for ages. The concept of courtyards as an integral part of a dwelling has existed since the Indus Valley civilisation. Modern-day buildings are designed with courtyards as they become a central vibrant and lively space that provides ample air movement thus lessening the impact of climate variations including extreme weather conditions. They are also a great source of letting natural light into the built space. The concept of courtyards has undergone functional and regional variations with time but the essence has been the same.
One of the most important aspects of green architecture is the word Green, which literally translates to flora and fauna. The present-day designers are making a conscious effort to bring the natural environment in, in terms of natural light and plants by creating terrace gardens, green courtyards and green walls which help in offsetting the carbon footprint of the building and managing the microclimate. The total energy consumption of a building can also be addressed by reducing the dependency on technological comforts via artificial means of lighting, cooling and heating. The provision of large glazings and fenestrations in the building envelop which bring natural light and air into the living spaces can help create a comfortable living environment that is in harmony with nature. The presence of water bodies in some form can also help in controlling the microclimate.
The venerable traditional dwellings in India featured intricate jaalis which were used to keep the harsh sun out while letting diffused light in. This concept of jaali has translated into the idea of perforated facades which serve the same purpose in modern buildings.
The conservation of water, one of the most important and insufficient resources, is another crucial aspect of green architecture. The rainwater from terraces and balconies can be harvested and used to recharge the groundwater table, while wastewater can be treated organically and reused for gardening, car washing etc.
Taking inspiration from the roots and amalgamating them with the basics of structure and orientation can lead to energy-efficient, sustainable and green designs which respect the natural environment. Hence today our approach should be towards creating modern idioms that reflect our core values of environmental sustainability, which is aesthetically vibrant while being organic and technologically advanced at the same time.
About the author: Nilanjan Bhowal, Green Architect, Founder and Principal Architect of Design Consortium.