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Grey to Green: Eco Friendly Infrastructure

climate change

Sheikh-ul-Alam has rightly said “Ann Poshe Teli Yeli Vann Poshe” (Food will thrive only till woods survive). Eco-infrastructure or environment-friendly infrastructure has certain essential ingredients such as resilience towards climate change, adaptability towards the same, environmental sustainability, the capability to produce positive displacement towards tackling climate change, the feature of procuring positive result towards the cause of environment and producing such building technologies which are largely aligned to the goal of saving the planet from the hazards of global warming and subsequent climate change.

There are multiple benefits involved as it results in a substantial reduction of ‘carbon footprint’ on the planet. This would inadvertently produce a more sustainable regime of development. It will help sustain mankind which has become vulnerable due to remarkable changes in the global cycles brought about by the blatant use of fossil fuels and other natural and contrived resources resulting in climate change and global warming.

With an exponential increase in urbanization we humans in the past have cut down ample forest land and made concrete jungles out of them and whenever wild animals are spotted in so-called residential areas they are attacked with “lathis”, stones and whatnot which make them insecure and they retaliate aggressively. When we go to their forests they shy away and are hard to be spotted. In many cases, wildlife department crew has been attacked and their vehicles burnt by the angry mob. Untimely the animal is to be shot dead.

In countries like India when an infra project is planned, there is hardly any consideration given to the trees present on the site. Simply cutting them down and getting some money out of them is considered the most economical. It takes a very long time for a tree to grow and a new sampling is going to take the same if at all it survives and spreads out.

First, we should try to adjust trees in the plan for a greener landscape, pure air, and a reduction in pollution. Trees can even prevent flooding, soil erosion and droughts. Architects should do whatever it takes to save a tree and make its presence aesthetically significant.

This old attitude of easy cutting down of trees needs to switch to the modern concept of tree relocation or tree transplantation. In projects like that of an airport, trees are to be removed and should be relocated, and not cut down. Tree spades as big as 120 inches diameter are being manufactured and used commercially. This cutting edge technology is the answer to every single killing of a tree and is likely to become affordable in the near future. There would be no need for movements like ‘Chipko’ if this technology is adopted, researched and improved.

Cement is the world’s most widely used material in existence and is only behind water as the planet’s most consumed resource. Unfortunately concrete is not an environmentally friendly material, either to make, or to use, or even to dispose of. To gain the raw materials to make this material much energy and water must be used, and quarrying for sand and other aggregates causes environmental destruction and pollution.

Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. In Kashmir use of cement has become a fashion because of which people shiver in harsh winter. The electricity consumption in winter has upsurged exponentially in the past decade which has created challenging crises.

Green architecture also seeks to reduce waste of energy, water and materials used during construction. Centralized wastewater treatment systems can be costly and use a lot of energy. An alternative to this process is converting waste and wastewater into fertilizer, which avoids these costs and shows other benefits. By collecting human waste at the source and running it to a semi-centralized biogas plant with other biological waste, liquid fertilizer can be produced. This concept was demonstrated by a settlement in Lubeck Germany in the late 1990s.

Air-conditioning units release about 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. The greatest advantage of natural building materials over cement is the thermal properties of the houses. Regardless of whether it is burning hot or freezing cold, traditional buildings tend to maintain a comfortable climate inside. On top of that, all the materials are non-toxic and therefore decay without harm if abandoned.

The world faces a range of water-related challenges that are set to intensify over time. Increasing water demand, decreasing water availability, deteriorating water quality and extreme weather-related events are contributing to worsening global water security. All these problems can be mitigated to different extents by appropriate infrastructure.

Hardening of concrete is an exothermic process that generally needs curing for 7 days and consumes a lot of water. It is also labor-intensive as the curing requires round-the-clock monitoring or the effort goes down the drain. Innovative water-saving methods such as ‘Drip Curing’ and alternatives like ‘Curing Compound Agents’ should be adapted.

To reduce the impact on wells or water treatment plants, several options exist. Grey-water/ wastewater from sources such as dishwashing or washing machines, can be used for subsurface irrigation, or if treated, for non-potable purposes, e.g., to flush toilets and wash cars. Rainwater collectors are used for similar purposes.

To reduce the cost of construction in South Asia we need to study our culture and learn how to make load-bearing structures. We have adopted the European design of construction relies on reinforced concrete. Mega old structures like Brihandisvara temple, Taj Mahal, Purana Qila and Qutub Minar is all load-bearing structures. Our forefathers mastered how to make such marvels economically without steel and concrete.

These days software like STAAD-Pro is used for designing which cannot design a load-bearing structure. Rather than being dependent on European work, we must research and rediscover effectively enough to make our own methods of designing structures and protect our planet, economy and culture.

 

This article was originally published by newdelhitimes.com

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