Self-sustainable and/or Net Zero Energy buildings.
The first time I heard of such a building was in the 2012 movie The Avengers when Tony Stark is talking to Pepper Potts saying:
“Stark Towers is about to become a beacon of self-sustaining clean energy.”
That, was my introduction to self-sustainable buildings, and to my shock and surprise, I learned that India has its very own Stark Towers, or well that’s reaching a bit too high, but it does have its very own self-sustaining or net-zero energy building that is the Indira Paryavaran Bhavan.
Indira Paryavaran Bhavan, office of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is India’s first net zero energy building and has been in existence for almost a year now.
And it is a little disconcerting that, it has not really been the talk of the news.
That or I am just really unobservant, however, even for someone as anti-social as me, any of the big news usually does reach me.
So, how come this was never really covered that heavily by any of the more popular online publications and portals?
Now, one might be wondering, how exactly does a net zero energy building even run in the first place? How do the air conditioners work? Well, let me answer a few such questions, and try to explain the complicated intricacies of how this building works:
How Is The Net Zero Energy Achieved?
Well, this delves into a bit of technical aspect, but basically, the rooftops are lined with solar PV system which covers about 4,600 sq. m. of the roof.
And apparently, with an estimated capacity of 930 kW peak power, Indira Paryavaran Bhavan has the largest rooftop solar system in the area of multi-storied buildings in India.
Along with that, the building also supposedly has an earthquake-resistant structure, however, it only covers about a third of the entire area. About 50 percent of the area that is outside the building, is covered with grass and plantations.
Green is also a motto for this building, as the entire building is made of natural and renewable things. The outer walls have an insulation of materials like fly ash bricks, regional building materials, easily recyclable things, rock wool and more.
All these materials are quite reflective and work towards absorbing the outside temperature in order to affect the inner temperature, leading to a reduction in consumption of energy.
Even the door frames and shutters are made from renewable bamboo jute composite material.
How Does The Building Use Sunlight?
Well, the Bhavan is designed in such a way that about 75% of the area receives daylight, which allows them to then use it to reduce energy consumption.
A Move Into The Future
The building also boasts of a pretty sweet fully robotic car parking facility. And the building’s design is such that it can even be easily accessed by differently-abled people.
If that was not enough, a thin- client networking system, that is a lightweight computer system is availed by the employees.
These people do not have to slog away at their computers all day long and this system, in turn, helps in reducing the consumption of energy by a large amount.
What About The Water?
Ok, so energy and water conservation are perhaps this building’s two plus points.
The building uses a variety of different treatments and methods like using sewage treatment plant to recycle wastewater, rainwater harvesting and more.
Even the washrooms and such have a fixture, which allows only a controlled amount of water to come out.
Another great way they have conserved water is by planting plants that do not require loads of water.
So No Air Conditioning?
Well… not in the traditional sense no.
Instead of using heavy duty air conditioners, which seem to be having more negatives day by day instead of positives, this building uses geothermal cooling and other methods, in order to keep a favourable temperature.
Geothermal cooling and heating is the most popular method, wherein with the use of pipes laid into the ground, one transfers the cool or warm air into the building.
This way instead of burning up fuel, it is harvesting the already existing energy around us.
Another way which has allowed the building to have air conditioning is by using convection currents instead of the conventional route of air ducts spilling out cool air.
So basically, the entire process is not that difficult, the building first reduces its energy consumption by employing environment-friendly procedures and then to meet the low demand, it harvests the existing energy around us.
It is truly interesting to see that even if it might be in small increments, but that we as a nation are realising the need for cleaner and more sustainable energy.
On the other hand, though, I feel that such initiatives should get a bit more attention than they are getting now.
Projects like these buildings and what they do can be great incentives for other organizations and civilians to incorporate some much-needed changes in their lives.
Image Credits: Google Images