Moving towards energy sustainability requires a paradigm shift – not only in the way energy is produced, but also in the way it is used and conserved.
Creating a green building is a complex process which involves coalescing fundamentals such as the site location, material, energy, water, indoor air quality and much more.
It is a process in which every element of design is first optimised and then the impact and inter-relationship of various different elements are re-evaluated, integrated and improved as part of a whole building solution.
For example, inter-relationships between the building site, site features, the path of the sun and the location and orientation of the building with elements such as windows and external shading devices have a significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of natural daylighting. These elements also affect direct energy loads and the overall energy performance.
As the interest in sustainability grows, India is seeing a whole new way in which buildings are built. Energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building is one of the primary goals of sustainable architecture. The essential green design principles of sustainable energy include alternative energy sources, energy conservation and reuse of materials.
While alternative energy sources including solar and wind energy are fast gaining acceptance, energy conservation and the reuse of materials can be achieved through the thoughtful application of products and solutions related to lighting, insulation, home automation, HVAC, etc.
LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have revolutionised the way the world looks at light. When you compare them to other energy-saving illumination methods available in the market you will find that LED lighting is by far the most power-saving and smartest solution. The life of a high-power white LED is projected to be 35,000 to 50,000 hours, compared to 750 to 2,000 hours for an incandescent bulb. LEDs use only 10% of power compared to a similar incandescent bulb, and about 50% less power when compared to a CFL.
LED lights contain no toxic materials and are 100% recyclable, helping you reduce your carbon footprint by up to a third. In India, Philips, GE Lighting, Anchor Panasonic, Havells, Osram, etc are leading the way with their LED innovations. To add to this, advanced version of LEDs, called OLEDs are already lighting the road ahead.
OLED is an acronym for Organic Light Emitting Diode. It is a two-dimensional light source that provides a soft light that is largely glare-free with no harsh shadows. The active, organic and mostly transparent layers of OLEDs are extremely thin, making the complete OLED itself extremely flat, lightweight and potentially flexible.
This lighting system can therefore be ultra-low-profile, transparent and flexible and can cover a large area. OLEDs are surface lights, LEDs are point light sources. Thus the two technologies have been designed for different areas of application. OLEDs can open up new applications such as light tiles, light partitions or transparent light sources, which only emit light at night and can serve as a window by day.
Home automation is yet another sustainable trend in energy conservation. Through home automation consumers can reduce energy consumption and costs by automatically turning lights on when you enter a space and off when you leave. This system can also regulate your cooling and heating needs to maintain an optimum standard fit for human comfort. Home automation allows you to control appliances, elevators, lighting, security and various other applications through easy to use interfaces like tablets and smart phones – saving plenty of energy while also making life easy!
Sustainability today has become an overarching and important project driver. The desire to construct high-performance green buildings has led to the adoption of best practices in construction materials and methods. Among them is the use of more efficient insulation systems, air barriers and sustainable roofing systems.
Optimum level of building insulation not only helps lower monthly energy bills, but also adds to the overall comfort. With the advent of green technologies and practices, today the potential to save energy by
design can be as high as 40-50%. Insulation in buildings is assuming tremendous importance and has a potential to reduce energy consumption to an extent of 5-8%.
A range of insulation materials can be installed in a building. Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC) blocks are far superior to the common clay brick variety and are produced from materials like fly-ash (a by-product of thermal plants). These blocks demonstrate excellent construction properties such as thermal insulation, structural strength, density and fire resistance.Glass wool is another insulation material which gives efficient thermal insulation. It is light in weight and provides good acoustic insulation too. Air is also an excellent insulator. Many buildings (also from the past)are constructed with brick/block walls with an air gap of 20 to 30 mm, which provides good insulation.
Porotherm Thermo Brick by Weinerberger has borrowed the principle of thermal insulation from nature, to become a unique walling material – one that keeps the interiors cool in summer and warm in winter! It is a 100% natural clay product with natural additives like coal ash, rice husk and granite slurry.
HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) helps maintain good indoor air quality. HVAC is a very important criteria in the design of large industrial and office buildings – where safety, health and comfort are regulated with respect to temperature, humidity and the introduction
of fresh air. The choice and design of the HVAC system can also affect many other performance goals, including water consumption (water cooled air conditioning equipment) and acoustics.
The most important and cost-effective element of an efficient HVAC system is a well-insulated building. A more efficient building requires less heat generating or dissipating power.Trane, Desiccant Rotors International (DRI), Daikin, BlueStar, LG, etc. are some of the top companies that work in the HVAC sector.
Sustainable architecture uses different innovative techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and increase their ability to capture or generate their own energy. A shining example is the solar air conditioning system used in Turbo Energy Systems building in Chennai. This system uses solar power to condition or control the air in the building by passive solar, solar thermal energy conversion and photovoltaic conversion in which sunlight is converted to electricity.
Another cutting edge example is the Earth Tunnel Air Conditioning system also known as passive air conditioning installed in Aqualmall Water Solutions in Dehradun. This system sucks air from the atmosphere and with the help of geothermal cooling the treated cooled air is sent back into the interiors.
Buildings like the Hotel Leela Palace, New Delhi and CII- Godrej GBC in Hyderabad have created artificially altered roof surfaces that can deliver high solar reflectance (the ability to reflect the visible, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths of the sun, reducing heat transfer to the surface). Suzlon One Earth in Pune and Delta Power in Rudrapur use a wind hybrid solar charger – a solar/wind hybrid system where solar and wind power production is used together. Suzlon One Earth in Pune also has facilities to recycle all the water it uses, has roof gardens and generates 154 KW of energy on site through the combination of windmills and photovoltaic panels.