Green practices at home

Last Updated 20 January 2011, 11:10 IST

Green building practices are neither new nor a refusal of modern amenities, according to many experts in this field. Such technology is especially useful at a time when high-rise buildings are decked with coloured glass panels to provide an aesthetic look.

Also, glass panels can be easily installed and maintained. But their major drawback is that, they emit the hot air on their outer surface and generate the same inside the building also. As natural air is absent inside the building, this will add pressure on the use of air-conditioners in such buildings. Lack of natural air criss-crossing inside the building is harmful for the people who reside or work in such places.

It is here that green practices come in handy. There are many buildings in and around Bangalore that are stressing the concept of green buildings. Also, there are many individuals who are also enjoying the benefits of green homes.

Use of natural resources

Traditional burnt bricks for construction, sand and cement for plastering or roofing can be replaced with other natural materials available aplenty.

Apart from providing the required strength to the building, these natural materials help buildings to breathe healthy air. Use of natural light in the daytime and natural air throughout the day will bring down the use of lights, fans and air conditioners, which is more than a necessity in the present crisis of power shortage and also helps in reducing global warming.

All commercial buildings and offices should stress on these features which will also help economise when it comes to maintenance. Large windows with proper ventilation will help avail natural light and fresh air. Suitable designing along with eco-friendly materials can make buildings energy-efficient and green.

Electrical systems used should have energy-saving devices. For lighting, use of CFL bulbs and tubes and electronic chokes will help in consuming less energy. Use of solar energy for water heating instead of electric geysers and boilers will help in a large measure in saving power.

Water management

Water management is essential for an eco-friendly house. Rainwater harvesting is gaining popularity and is a great system to meet the increasing demand of water especially in urban areas where the ground water table is depleting every day.

This depletion is because, in cities, rain water falling  from roof tops never reaches the ground for recharging. Instead, it enters the drains along with other waste. Effective usage of rain water by adopting rainwater harvesting system can meet more than sixty per cent of water requirement of any building. This should be made compulsory in all the cities for both commercial as well as residential buildings.  Drilling individual borewells should be restricted.

In addition, waste water should be scientifically recycled so that it can be put to use for gardening and for other non-drinking purposes.  A plan should be put into place for laying out a small garden on every plot.

In case there is no space available around the building, roof-top gardening should be encouraged so that greenery around each house is enhanced. Plants suited for rooftop planting can be selected and can be used for the same.

Some of the materials that should be used for the construction of an eco-friendly buildings are as follows:

* Use of a combination of dry stone masonry, earth-toned laterite bricks (clay bricks) and quarry dust instead of sand.
* Use of fly ash cement which offers greater volume and less density.
* A mix of roof slabs and reinforced cement concrete (RCC) can be used for roofing.
* Use of finely finished Cudappah stones or similar material which need no polishing or maintenance should be used for the floors.
* Use of rubber wood frames for doors and windows
* Use of energy saving bulbs and tubes for lighting.
* Good insulation for refrigerators is key to save power.
* Bath taps should have water saving flow restrictors to minimise wastage of water.
* Use of solar energy for both water heaters and for lighting.
* Use of bio-fuels for generators and motors and solar cell for water pumps.

All the above mentioned materials are locally available and are time tested for endurance. They are cost-effective and create a cleaner environment.

(Published 20 January 2011, 11:10 IST)

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