Architects design buildings – from homes to commercial to retail spaces. Architecture studies insist on efficient structural designs, climatic designs as well as understanding how to use water, light and air. After a basic course in architecture, familiarising yourself with the ‘green’ ratings will help you build structures responsibly.
What do they do?
Where work is concerned, architect Sanjay Prakash is led by his heart, and not his head. This designer of environment-friendly or ‘green’ buildings ensures there are adequate environment-friendly practices incorporated in his personal life as well. Trains are preferred to flights. Invitations to seminars and conferences abroad, which involve long-haul flights, are politely refused – all because he wants to reduce his carbon footprint.
His home (with exposed brick facade to minimise plaster and paint use) in Gurgaon reflects Prakash’s concern for the environment. He has made an example out of it. There is optimised natural ventilation, a courtyard and rooftop garden (terrific insulation) to keep the house cool in the summer and enough south-facing windows to let the sun in and keep things warm in the winter. Easily replacable ‘secondary timber’, reused glass, bamboo railings, terrazo floors made of broken chips and marble dust instead of bigger stones, are some of the features. A rainfall harvesting system is also in place and ‘grey water’ left over from washing utensils/ clothes etc is used for gardening.
Any kind of ‘specialisation’ in sustainable architecture, says Prakash, “would defeat the transformative purpose of sustainable architecture. Rather, green architects should strive to become people with a sustainable lifestyle and develop a sustainable ethos informing their architecture and other design work.”
Train as an architect, but for the ‘green tag’, you should get familiar with one of the first rating systems to become part of the professional discourse in India – the initially US-centric LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Designs).
Says Abhishek Kiran Gupta, Head - Real Estate Intelligence Services, Jones Lang LaSalle India:
“In India, the green buildings ratings system in use are GRIHA (via The Energy Research Institute, or TERI) and LEED India (via the Indian Green Building Council, or IGBC.) LEED is the most widely followed rating system globally. Europe also follows systems such as BREEAM, Eco Quantum, Eco Effect and Eco Building Total Quality Assessment. The best means (for builders) of obtaining sustainability certification is to turn to a consultancy that is experienced and qualified in sustainable practices integration.”
Bangalore-based Chitra Vishwanath, a graduate of the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad, was drawn to green architecture because of “serendipity, a new challenge, and just the excitement of working with hitherto not used materials as well as design demands”, she says.
Both people and the environment matter, she says. “Sustainability in India should look at the people first and then materials. People who work at construction sites should be paid equal and real wages and not be exploited. Safety and health are also issues which need to be addressed in a stringent manner. The budget of the building should be such that more money is spent on labour than materials. Craft should be encouraged.
“Less paint should be used and materials for construction should come from the closest possible distance,” she says.
The ‘green’ concept, says Gupta, will survive because it is the way of the future. Those who adopt the way now do not do so for immediate monetary benefits but out of commitment towards the environment and to build a convincing brand. “It must be borne in mind that many international occupiers follow a strict policy of occupying only sustainable buildings anywhere in the world. While this may not be an immediate concern for most Indian developers, there are still concerns that are building for the future – not just the present,” he adds.
. Awarness of environmental problems and a keen desire to ensure its survival
. Good designing/drawing skills and ability to provide cost-effective solutions to clients as ‘green’ planning is expensive
. Good communication skills as you deal with clients/spread awareness about what you do
How do I get there?
Take up science and mathematics in Class 11 and 12. To get into an architecture college, you have pass exams like the AIEEE (All India Engineering/Architecture Entrance Examination), conducted by the CBSE; NATA (National Aptitude Test in Architecture); RPET (Rajasthan Pre-Entrance Test), or Punjab CET. Later, familiarse yourself with rating systems such as the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Designs), website: www.igbc.in/site/igbc/tests.jsp?event=22869 or the Indian GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment), website: www.grihaindia.org.