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Creating Sustainable Architecture

India has rich traditions and history in holistic strategies for buildings and construction. Despite this, the sustainable buildings agenda currently receives limited attention in India. While there are some local initiatives promoting sustainable buildings which include research, pilot or advocacy projects, there is no coordinated approach to address the wider sustainable buildings agenda in India.


While the green building movement has been around globally since the 1970s, it has picked up momentum in

India only in the last couple of years. A green building can save as much as 30% on power consumption every year compared with normal buildings, and use 40% less potable water. Green buildings are built of materials that

are good for the environment, but there is still a scarcity of green building materials and equipment and their suppliers in India.


There are some challenges such as commercialization barriers faced by new technologies competing with mature technologies; price distortions from existing subsidies and unequal tax burdens between renewables and other energy sources; failure of the market to value the public benefits of renewables; market barriers such as inadequate information, lack of access to capital, "split incentives" between building owners and tenants, and high transaction costs for making small purchases.


Developing new renewable resources will require large initial investments to build infrastructure. These investments increase the cost of providing renewable electricity, especially during the early years. Developers.

must find publicly acceptable sites with good resources and with access to transmission lines. Potential.

wind sites can require several years of monitoring to determine whether they are suitable. Permitting issues for conventional energy technologies are generally well understood, and the process and standards for review are well defined. In contrast, renewables often involve new types of issues and ecosystem impacts. And standards are still in the process of development.


In the past, individuals had no choices on the sources of their electricity. But electricity deregulation has opened the market so that customers have a variety of choices. Start-up companies must communicate

the benefits of renewables to customers in order to persuade them to switch from traditional sources. Public education is a critical part of a fully functioning market if renewables are to succeed. Workers must be trained to install, operate, and maintain new technologies. Some renewables need operating experience in regional climatic conditions before performance can be optimized.


I admire...


The Druk White Lotus School in Shey, Ladakh, designed by Arup Associates, London, is a telling example of sustainable architecture. The school exploits the ample sunlight using photovoltaic panels for energy, and water is made available through dedicated boreholes and solar pumps. This is commendable, given the topography and acute short supply of water throughout the region. Only materials culled from the local area have been used. The local mud brick that forms the cavity wall is a local innovation for improved insulation and added durability. The roof is made from the locally available poplar and willow trees, using a local technique that is very effective against the harsh exterior conditions and cold winds.

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