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Think Green,Act Now

Having heard the term ‘green’ buildings all through last year,it holds no new appeal for us in the new year.

Written by ShevetaBhatia |
February 3, 2009 1:12:17 am

Prof John Raftery lists out smart ways to conserve energy

Having heard the term ‘green’ buildings all through last year,it holds no new appeal for us in the new year. But this is until we have met Professor John Raftery,Pro Vice-Chancellor,Oxford Brookes University,who lists the difference between “Green Wash” and the real green architecture. “Green means anything that reduces carbon footprints and in terms of architecture implies using products that are available locally. To ape the West and call that a green design is an eyewash,something we call the green wash,” he says,as he takes seat at the Chandigarh College of Architecture to give a lecture on ‘Architecture and panning for a low carbon world’.

Here on his second visit,Raftery tells us that for Chandigarh,sustainable buildings are those which are heavy mass buildings like those made of brick,stone and clay. “They trap and release minimum energy,” Raftery points out,as he states that location,climate and form are the key determinants for deciding the materials to be used. While many would want to restrict the concept to new constructions,Raftery feels that to insulate and glaze old structures is just as important. “This would reduce the use of energy by the way of less use of air conditioning and heating,” adds this architect,who has conducted research on zero carbon buildings worldwide and found a few practical possibilities by which architects can contribute to a healthy living. “Use energy efficient heating,natural ventilation,recycling systems and make private open spaces,integrated transport network,cycle routes and storage space and space for car pools,” he says in one breath.

But this,he asserts,are in addition to one mandatory requirement. “Cities should be designed in a fashion that minimum travel is required. Work,home and markets should all be close by,just like in Chandigarh,” Raftery says that the theme should be accessibility and not mobility. Stepping out of the shoes of an architect,Raftery feels that all should vouch for low energy appliances like CFLs and should opt for options that use renewable forms of energy. “Switch off the standby mode in appliances and it will reduce the total energy consumed by one per cent,” he lists narrating some alarming figures — cities account for 75 per cent of total global energy demand and produce 80 per cent of our CO2 emissions driving climate change. A rate,which he feels,if persists too long would invite disaster.

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Elaborating on little ways to reduce carbon emission,Raftery says,“Do not eat food out of season,for it consumes a lot of fuel traveling across the globe,” something he terms as counting food miles. “Calculate your carbon footprints,dress warm or cool according to weather and give gadgets a miss and recycle and reuse,” he signs off,hoping that tomorrow we will all get up to a really green morning!

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