There is a buzz about green buildings. But the question is: what does one mean by building green? And how does one design policies to make the green homes of our dreams?Green is not about first building structures using lots of material and energy, and then fixing them so that they become a little more efficient. Building green is about optimizing on the local ecology, using local material as far as possible and, most importantly, building to cut the power, water and material requirements.
Sunita Narain makes some excellent points about building in India, and how western architecture influenced glass facades, closed buildings, etc. make little sense in India, and how traditional building concepts, optimised for local conditions would make more sense.
- Traditional buildings are not necessarily optimised for density. To fit a lot of people in a little space, you need to build up. No, not 100s of stories, but fives and tens? It would be interesting to figure out that contradiction. But I’m no architect and I don’t know the answer
- The glass facade concrete skyscraper jungle look is associated with aspirational prosperity, ask any affluent Indian what they like about Hong Kong, or New York, or Singapore, and the shiny buildings will figure pretty high on the list after cleanliness and shopping. This is the kind of building associated with modernity and “class”. Making a sealed glass and concrete hell hole work in regions of high heat and humidity without large amounts of energy use for air conditioning is difficult.
It appears, though, that at least some people are thinking about this, as this book, helpfully titled Tropical Sustainable Architecture, would attest to.