Real estate industry is changing the traditional way of constructing a building
Authored by Vamsi Krishna Gaddam , Joint Managing Director of Visaka Industries Limited.
Ruthless depletion, extensive dependency and mindless commercialisation of our non-renewable resources is choking humanity over the years. In 2014, Iceland held a funeral for its first glacier claimed by climate change. Its tombstone read – Only you know if we did it. While a bleak number of Greenpeace advocates have been putting in a good fight to spark conversations on sustainable shift, their voices have been muffled by incessant hammering of unhealthy construction practices that continue to layer our planet; and we do not have the privilege to embrace oblivion anymore like influencers with power do. The truth is simple — climate change is real.
The very need of construction grows by the hour as the population has boomed and hit the roof, forcing real estate’s hasty stride to catch up. However, by using old-school materials and techniques, we have been catalysts for an untimely end. This situation, when applied to a country like India, paints a different picture. With a growing population that is soon to dethrone China in 20 years, there is a radical shift in lifestyles. Cities are drawing in the rural populace like iron dust to magnets in search of better jobs, infrastructure and ease of living. The urbane fear crammed cities and undoable concentrations of pollution filling their lungs, but in reality, more villages converge into the cities and their growth sets off a domino effect — uncontrolled carbon emissions would soon trump the development we all seek.
The best way to explain the impact of the building sector on the environment is how Fatih Birol from the International Energy Agency (IEA) puts it. “Over the next 40 years, the world is expected to build 230 billion square metres in new construction – adding the equivalent of Paris to the planet every single week,” he wrote. According to the Global Status Report by the World Green Building Council, post 2030, India will erect buildings with 3 times more floor area and demand cooling energy services than ever before; and not meeting them would signal a downward spiral in a rapidly rising economy like ours.
Ambitious technology exists today, but doesn’t maniacally denting the environment leave us against nature’s side? Chennai’s parched habitation, Odisha’s cyclones or the melting glaciers at Kedarnath, these might be just calamities for mankind, but they are signs of a near-empty hourglass. Time is running out, and there is no planet B. Low-carbon solutions are the need of the hour, and for those that seek, there are umpteen alternatives to conventional methods of construction – ones that deploy energy-efficient, green ways to tackle building assets. Aiding the industry to keep a tab on its carbon footprint, products like Vnext work towards saving building costs, improve efficiency without compromising on quality by putting sustainability first. Right now, the focus for companies should be on two things – remodel businesses to suit the impact on climate, and by prioritising on weather extremities, deliver housing solutions for stable living in areas prone to these changes. But the challenge remains to come up with solutions that help to halt further damage.
While the proof is plenty to show how sustainable building materials and smart designs can improve housing and lifestyles, there is not enough emphasis on architects, planners and construction companies to take the eco-friendly route. In such dire times, a message of sustainability resonates better when there is a choice provided. When laced with aesthetics, resilience and a vision to combat climate anomalies, sustainability will sell.
‘Alarming’ is an understatement to describe what a research says. Its results show that those on top of the greenhouse emissions list are industries that generate electricity and promote unsustainable living by using plywood, plastics and coal. Let us construct using alt-woods that not only are more durable and resilient to meet quality standards, but also put an end to deforestation. In hindsight, many have begun the drive to use single use plastic and are promoting recycling them to keep them from our lifelines – rivers and oceans. As the monks in Thailand are weaving Batiks made of single use receptacles, the textile industry too, is meticulously driven to use PET bottles for upcycling clothing. In numbers, an average of 43 million PET bottles, which otherwise heap metropolitan dumping yards are recycled to create eco-friendly products like Wonder Yarn.
Ideally, countries must plan its villages, towns and cities in line with a greener future. And a country like India spends 500% more electricity in buildings that it did back in 2010; stepping in to meet such needs, solutions like Atum, use in abundance the primary resource that the Earth was bestowed with – the Sun – by generating electricity whilst doubling up as a sturdy roofing solution. Let us all vouch for a greener tomorrow, let us build smart and go green.