Everything seems to be going green these days; and the construction of eco-friendly schools, hospitals, stadiums, restaurants and even residential spaces are all part of India’s sustainable development goals. A green building or home is one that is designed so that it requires minimal maintenance and causes minimum harm to the environment. Simply put, eco-friendly architecture promotes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides a healthier living space for occupants as compared to a conventional building. India has a number of buildings that serve as models of eco-friendly design by saving resources like water and harnessing solar energy. Now, these designs need to be adopted by mainstream architecture and construction.
The Drunk White Lotus School, Ladakh
Some 3,500 metres above the sea level in the climatically severe landscape of Ladakh is a school that has been recognised as one of the most functional examples of sustainable, eco-friendly and cost-effective building development. Not only has the school combined traditional Ladakhi architecture with 21st century engineering excellence, but it has also been built with traditional materials like locally excavated stone, grass and mud bricks. The Druk White Lotus School went on to win awards for the Best Asian Building, Best Education Building and Best Green Building. It was designed and built by British architects and engineers, local educators and the Ladakhi mountain community for the Drukpa Trust under the patronage of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Hotels are known to consume large amounts of energy. On a daily basis, there is an unimaginable amount of laundry to be done while swimming pools eat up a considerable amount of energy. These days, many hotels are rapidly moving toward smart energy management solutions. Guhantara Cave Resort in Bangalore has gone one step ahead to offer a green lodging experience to its guests. It has been built around the five elements of nature and follows the natural contours of the land through the use of mud walls and terrace gardens. In spite of the cave-like atmosphere, the ventilation is optimum as windows have been built in the direction of the wind. Light streams in through these vents too. A rain water harvesting facility that resembles a lake, usage of minimum wood, biothermal power for heating purposes and the use of CFL bulbs make this hotel one of the greenest in the country. The entire resort operates solely on solar power.
LA Cuisine Solaire-Auroville, Pondicherry
One of the most innovative green spaces in the country has got to be a restaurant in Auroville, Pondicherry’s global township. All the food cooked here is vegetarian. The café’s solar-powered kitchen best demonstrates the bountiful goodness that can be harnessed using solar energy. The idea behind the name is the 15-diameter solar bowl that has been attached to the top of this green structure. On a clear day, the structure can generate enough steam at a temperature of 150°C that can be used to cook meals for as many as 1000 people, three times a day! It’s amazing to see that solar energy is being harnessed to the fullest.