There was a time when being eco-friendly meant settling for expensive designs low on aesthetic value. But now the concept has changed completely in a post-Covid world, with people looking at doing more and living in harmony with nature.

More and more people are asking for sustainable designs these days and there is a shift from luxury living to a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability means using whatever resources you have, keeping in mind that future generations should be able to use these resources too, as well as the ethical and social impact of your choices. The key points to remember are reduce, recycle and regenerate. Reduced consumption, water and carbon footprint, recycling whatever you can, and employing techniques like water harvesting and getting electricity through solar panels as regenerative tools.In fact, harnessing solar power is something that can be retrofitted into any home. run your home on less energy through clever design. During most of the year you can harness the solar power for electricity. Where ever possible  you can sell the extra electricity generated to the grid system .  Several citizens love displaying their eco-home as proud, ethical citizens. Besides solar panels, one can also install low-flow fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen to conserve water, LED lights to lower energy consumption, external double-glazing on the east and west glass surfaces and overhangs on windows. An epoxy coat on the entire terrace, when painted white, not only makes it waterproof, but also insulates and reflects heat.

The crux of sustainability lies in using resources in a sustainable way. In post Covid-19 scinario everyone is talking about air and light as compared to asking for more space coverage. Sustainability is becoming a way of life—locally sourced material, right thermal value, waterproofing the ceiling and passive architectural thinking are all ways forward. Learning sustainability from this pandemic and socio-cultural suitability, however, is the need of the hour.

There has been increased awareness of sustainability, but to make an impact we need more people and architects to make it mainstream. In India everybody knows that as one moves south  it is mostly sunny throughout the year, yet people do not orient their homes in the north-south direction. This simple reorientation will lead to 27 per cent heat reduction and 20-30 per cent energy saving (in terms of your AC), besides letting in natural light. Think about it this way—if a room faces east, the sunlight is too harsh and you end up drawing the curtains and switching on the lights throughout the day. Use of local materials is also important, so while black stone works for Nasik and Lonavala, sandstone is suited to Rajasthan and granite for Bengaluru. Compare this to the procurement of marble, which is imported from Europe, is cut in another place and then sent to a third. Besides local materials, it is also important to use local labour, something many architects have already started doing. The third level of sustainability is understanding if the process to create an end product is sustainable.. Ask the architect what sustainability is . ‘It’s common sense’

We need to focus on fundamentals over consuming. “We need to be much more contextual right now. Build less and be with nature There is a move to be as sensitive to materials and to the earth. If we are sensitive to the entire process, sustainability starts there. Don’t look at it in isolation. Think about how to nurture positive spaces around our homes, especially things locally available, like materials. This means ditching procurement (which is already not possible thanks to travel restrictions) for local materials. But remember what is local for the Malabar region may not be for Tamil Nadu. We need to learn to co-live with nature, its elements and fellow beings.

The current trend is truthful design as compared to earlier when it was all about impressing others. Green design is all about bringing a positive change to the design and the environment. But it can vary from creating a mud wall to a glazed glass wall, both of which reduce carbon footprint. You have to find a way to cross-ventilate and avoid air conditioning. Energy is at a real premium, proving that clever techniques and practicality are the key elements for a sustainable design.

Published by Sima Sarkar

I am Anjan.I am a freelancer.I am trying to write day to day human issues.I want to highlight issues related to 'Mother Earth' as well.

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