Metrics for our Home: Smart & Sustainable

The debate on climate change has largely revolved around capping greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of countries across the world.

With India being the world’s third largest carbon emitter, our responsibility towards protecting our planet is immense. While controlling the emissions from industries and power plants will continue to remain difficult [due to their role in driving economic growth], there is an area of potential increase in carbon emissions that we have been blind to – households.

With India’s 1.2 billion population rapidly transforming into urban and middle-class, the emission from households can account for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the future.

The extent of this increase in emissions from household can be illustrated by the fact that moving from the lowest to the highest income group increases the carbon footprint by 113%. It is observed that with rising income, there is a disproportionately high increase in the demand for emission-intensive goods and services.

Venturing to preempt the household emissions can help India avoid unnecessary investments in the future and push us forward in building sciences and technology.

To achieve this goal, a complete overhaul of our designs and concepts are needed. To being with, we need to do away with our design process of starting and ending with elevations and layouts, and re-write the design process based on two strong metrics: Smart and Sustainable.

Though both the metrics need in-depth study and understanding, some of the broad questions they should answer are:

Smart

  1. How can the building operate with minimum resources?
  2. What modern technologies (like sensors, thermostat, etc.) can be deployed to optimize the utilization of resources?
  3. What should be the framework to govern the procurement of utilities and appliances?

Sustainable

  1. How can the building be designed to reduce the requirement of lighting, heating and air-conditioning?
  2. Are the building materials made from recyclable/green products?
  3. How can the building be constructed without altering its surroundings?
  4. How in the long term the building can turn carbon positive?

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