Green around the edges
Big efficiency gains can come only from making buildings less wasteful.
BY TEAM CW
Green buildings are becoming a critical part of today’s world. More and more new construction technologies are being developed to keep up with this escalating shift to sustainability, be it in paints, HVAC, water and waste treatment, furniture, air handling unit filters, etc.
Simultaneously, construction of buildings consumes large volumes of resources, which is why integrating biodegradable, recycled and sustainable materials makes a huge difference. Green construction materials are also great alternatives to prevent exhausting already depleted natural resources. Take, for example, steel beams that are made from recycled metal. Aside from eliminating the need to fell down trees for wood beams, recycled steel offers more resistance to severe weather conditions.
According to industry analysts, the differential cost of setting up green building or retrofitting existing ones is no more than 3-5%. If you factor in savings of 25-30% in the water and electricity consumption bill in an average green building in India, the additional expense is not just recovered within five years but such buildings can be profitable.
Hiral Sheth, director, marketing & sales, Sheth Creators, says, “Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, buildings use energy, water, and raw materials, generate waste, and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. These facts have prompted the creation of green building standards, certifications, and rating systems aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the natural environment through sustainable design. There is now a proliferation of standards, rating, and certification programs in the marketplace to help guide, demonstrate, and document efforts to deliver sustainable, high-performance buildings.”
The foundation of any construction project is rooted in the concept and design stages. The concept stage has the largest impact on cost and performance. In designing environmentally optimal buildings, the objective is to minimise the total environmental impact associated with all life-cycle stages of the building project.
V Jayachandran, COO, roofing business, HIL Limited, says, “At HIL, we had anticipated the green revolution that had swept the construction and infrastructure industry keeping in mind the sustainability aspect. We adopted a unique ‘Five way green’ philosophy to ensure that products and processes are environmentally friendly. Today, a good 30% of energy needs are met from renewable sources. The company sources green raw materials with a low carbon footprint and processes them using green manufacturing that produces least effluents, by-products and emissions. They also have superior insulation and are 100% termite and remain mould resistant.”
Yatnesh Pandey, chief manager, marketing, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd, says, “Our Impressions Eco-clean range for interior wall paints and the Excel Total range for exterior paints are environment friendly as they have zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) and are lead-free. It also provides excellent algae resistance and rich sheen.”
Kansai Nerolac Paints has also initiated an online platform in the paints industry, Earth Matters. It is specially designed for architects and designers to promote sustainable development and is also a common platform for general masses to interact and get firsthand information and advice directly from the experts. Earth Matter emphasises on the need for change in attitude and gives the architects, engineers and interior designers an opportunity to learn more on methods of sustainable practices toward building environmentally responsible buildings.
Similarly, Ahuja Constructions has made sure that it works at the initial stage of design too. Gautam Ahuja, MD, Ahuja Constructions, says, “We lay emphasis on sub-metering of different locations which help to assess energy consumption during operational stage.” This involves the study of heat island effect, CFD analysis for air-conditioning, efficient usage of water for landscaping and air-conditioning, monitoring of construction waste at the initial stages, solar panels to provide heated water in the common areas, green walls for indoor and outdoor locations, low-E laminated glass, recyclable materials for construction comprising 15% of construction cost, low VOC paints, FEC certified wood and STP for recycling waste water. The company also places rigid control parameters on the contractors, MEP consultants, architects and project managers to follow international standards for green building.
There are several smart green building materials that are cost effective and long-lasting. Traditional construction materials now have greener and smarter substitutes such as: Replace natural sand with finely powdered crystalline silica made from rejected limestone. It helps in replacing natural sand usage in concrete and plastics. It also ensures a comparatively denser concrete than those made only with natural sand and quarry fines resulting in a significant increase in compressive strength and durability. Using such alternatives also aides in preserving natural reserves and protecting the environment.
Gaurav Shah, director, sales & marketing, Ravi Group, says, “Our endeavour is to create an ecosystem that is energy efficient, environment-friendly and sustainable. In one of our projects, we provide rain water harvesting facilities, solar lighting and green spaces to reduce overall CO2 levels and promote healthy lifestyle. Temperature control system is one of the alterations we have made to the structure so there is ample oxygen on higher levels of the building. Another change is using light-weight concrete instead of traditional bricks as it has sufficient strength.”
Manoj Kumar, managing director at Hess India, an international leader in the manufacture of concrete production equipment, avers, “Converting fly-ash into useful construction material is economical and the bricks are much cheaper than clay bricks and cement. What few realise is that it enables considerable cost savings on plastering mortar. Considering all the talks around sustainability, the fly-ash bricks are ideal exponents of sustainability.”
A main advantage of fly-ash bricks is the thermal insulation they offer. The conventional types of bricks use plenty of energy as they generate heat by using wooden particles which is used for generating heat for the kilns. “For bonding they use cement mortar which 70% cement and second most expensive building material. All these factors are avoided here. And Hess offers machinery for all these,” he adds.
One of the country’s oldest cement makers, ACC Limited, has also taken initiatives to go green. ACC Concrete has broken through the mould and introduced its new brand of concrete, Ecocrete, which will not only bolster a structure but make it more durable. Ecocrete replaces the use of Portland Cement (OPC) to a higher extent with cement materials without replacing any other important properties. But it has a higher durability compared to OPC against external weathering loses. Besides promoting sustainable development, Ecocrete increases resistance to sulphates, reduces chloride-ion penetration, and improves resistance to aggressive environments. It reduces the heat of hydration, provides excellent durability, and improves workability, pumpability and placeability during concrete pours. It also reduces shrinkage, bleeding promotes better shutter finish and aesthetics and segregation. It is helpful to marine and coastal structures, dairy and meat industry structures. It is also used in industrial buildings and floors, cornice constructions, water and sewage treatments works, embankments, backfills, hydraulic fills, subgrade stabilisation, pavement base, landfill covers, grouting and soil amendments.
In HVAC, one company that has consistently been at the forefront of innovation is Carrier. The Infinity series heat pump with Greenspeed intelligence is the first of its kind. No other ducted, air source heat pump can beat its 13 HSPF rating for heating efficiency. The intelligence is created by pairing adaptable-speed technology with the Infinity control’s intelligence. This allows the system to operate longer at steadier, lower capacities, which ensures incredible energy efficiency and quiet operation with tighter temperature control than standard systems.
Considering the efforts and initiatives taken by numerous vendors, it’s not surprising that India has crossed the 3 billion sq-ft mark of green buildings. Green makes sound business sense and this is encouraging developers and manufacturers to take this route.