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War on nature must end

India’s leading architects have declared the green movement a matter of survival. Speaking exclusively to Architect & Interiors India in the run-up to the United Nations World Environment Day on June 5, five members of the magazine’s elite Advisory Board said that much still needed to be done by the building industry in India if it was to compensate for the years of environmental neglect.

Likening the industry’s treatment of the environment so far to a “war on nature”, Nitin Killawala, principal partner at Group Seven Architects, said environmental concerns should take priority from now on. “Green architecture is not so much about architecture as it is about survival.”

He added that reward systems for eco-friendly practices could act as a poisoned chalice. “Getting carbon credits is not justified because someone can afford to pay a penalty for their sins. Green should not be equated only with a rating or evaluation system.”

Conrad Gonsalves, proprietor at Conrad Gonsalves & Associates, foretold a day when eco designs were the norm. “There could be a time when projects would need – like the health warning on nicotine – to indicate the areas which are hazardous to the environment.”

And while Namita Singh, proprietor at Satnam Namita & Associates, said she was impressed with the development of some products such as solar-resistant glass, she added that the industry should be wary of spurious green claims from opportunistic providers. “Unless rethinking is done, the current trend is heading towards a very superficial approach fuelled by the ‘green building consultants’ and vendors of so-called green but expensive products.”

At the same time Ashok Butala, proprietor at Atelier Architects & Interior Designers, said India should learn “from the mistakes made by the West, and use appropriate techniques and methods which are relevant to our climatic conditions.”

And Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director at Hiranandani Group, said: “Green will be financially beneficial in the long run. It makes sense to go green.”

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