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Stopping climate change through environmental buildings

Evidence based architectural designs could be the basis of India’s efforts to meet its commitment towards climate change.


Over the years we have believed in the notion that the buildings consume 40% of the energy produced, or they are responsible for 65% of the total global emissions across the world. It is important to understand why the impact is significant even though we are driven by the idea of sustainability since the early 2000s.

Moreover, the young architectural professionals need to understand the significant contributions they can make at the micro level (in terms of the built environment) to the 2050 deadline set during the Paris Agreement 2016 Conference of the parties (CoP21) by UNFCCC. Even though Sustainability or Environmental designing is an integrative and iterative process, in recent times the term “sustainability” has been associated mostly with acquiring certification by the developers to attract investors. For this purpose they emphasize on material and fixture optimization rather than occupant centric adaptive architecture, which should proceed from spatial optimization to attuning the built form to the natural rhythms to reduce the energy requirements for building operation.

As architects, it is important to understand the post occupancy behavior of our designs as each architectural design impacts how well the building would operate. A basic analogy can be made with a human body, as any ailment or disruption in body functionality triggers negative or counter responses. In an era, where majority of industries are driven by data, architects and designers could focus on evidence-based design, where indoor and outdoor environmental qualities for occupant comfort are prioritized by quantifying the modern and vernacular techniques.

This could help achieve an environmentally and contextually responsive design, moving away from the ideology to achieve visual cohesion and standardized indoor environment for the built environment and avoiding heavy reliance on mechanical conditioning and artificial lighting, which is a result of the reliance on a comfort model that was articulated in 1950s for understanding the thermal interactions between the surrounding atmosphere and human body, devoid of the location and spatial program, restricting the human comfort to a 24oC threshold, neglecting a wide range of thermodynamic exchanges for adaptive comfort, which standards like the IMAC (Indian Model of Adaptive Comfort) focus on. Thus, Environmental Architecture or Enviro [ARCH] should be taken as an architectural challenge which emphasizes on a performance-based design which focuses on occupant comfort, thus making artistic aspect scientifically plausible.


Author: Gunveer Singh

The article was originally published on Hindustan Times on March 05, 2021.



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