The Realistic Approach in building a Sustainable Home
Self-sustained living is an outcome of engineering a habitat that is self-sufficient and self-replenishing.
For the many of us it starts at home. The urgent need for self-sustained living is the need of the hour owing to the alarming rate of climate change and habitat loss. This project, green-villa will be first of its kind to bring about a self-sustained home for a self-reliant living.
Key features of a self-reliant housing starts with
1. Flood proof community with water stagnation proof pavements
Chennai and the vicinity blessed with a very good annual rainfall, which every Chennaivasi dreads owing to the damages and causalities it claimed in the recent floods. Though choosing an optimum locality that is least prone to flood is the least expensive solution, it is not just in the hands of residents alone. One can predict this with the recent hydrological maps available from the recent past. A simple example, Velachery was one of the eri (lake) so they get filled up first on any instance of rain or storm. Same applies to pallikaranai etc.
Though land selection can predominantly make a community flood proof, providing a well-designed sub-soil drainage system and storm-water runoff plan to catalyst rainwater to replenish ground water is a key factor in control flooding.
2. Locality that’s fairly close to necessary amenities
Sustainable housing is incomplete if the residents have to travel everyday across the city, especially for daily requirements like food supplies, groceries, clothing, schooling and healthcare. Though it is a millennial norm that these amenities find their way towards habitat, choosing a locality that could aide/accommodate such developments is critical.
3. Solar powered
Let’s face it. Solar has been the single most talked about topic for a sustained and eco-friendly alternative to our energy woes. It is also of great importance as more than 60% of power production in India is met with fossil fuels. Further, The Govt. of India and the MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) have set a target of 40GW for rooftop solar power systems.
With a stand-alone off-grid solar power system, the home and the community is powered by 24x7 clean energy that is optimally backed up by the grid’s supply. With optimal power-banks, the surplus solar energy produced in the day is used in the night therefore preventing the use of grid electricity to the maximum possible extent.
Though solar has been in the news for so long, it is difficult for a consumer to find a reliable solar system integrator who would provide customised solution for their specific energy needs. One such renewable energy company is Sree Karmik who have proved their mettle in offering customised solar power solution to residential, industrial and commercial segments.
4. Infused intelligent terrace farming set-up
Terrace is a place that is highly under-utilised in the modern housing. A 100sq.ft of engineered terrace garden can be effectively used to grow fresh vegetables, greens, etc. These in-built terrace farms integrated with drip-irrigation system acts as a green roof as well. Green cover on the roof not only acts as a source of home-grown vegetables but also a rich thermal insulation that reduces the effect of thermal radiation penetration by 80 percent and keeps the building cold in the hot summers.
5. Smart lit lighting system to minimise the energy consumption
Lighting is often over-done in many a households. By optimising the interior colour choice and by utilising maximum natural light keeps the energy utility at bay. Intelligent LED light fittings that are featured on a dull coloured wall will light the room ambient without much noise in the lighting providing a pleasant feel. Added advantage with LED is that it consumes 80% lesser energy compared to conventional lighting.
6. Thermal insulated construction and interiors
Clay bricks that have been in use over centuries is known for the thermal insulation, however clay bricks weigh heavy increasing the dead load of the structure, in-turn which causes an increase in structural elements in construction resulting in high cost. For masonry, an engineered light-weight block that is lighter, stronger and can insulate the interiors twice as better as brick walls is used. Interiors are predominantly done with calcium carbonate based paints that absorb abundant heat throughout their life that keeps the home cool at all times without an air conditioner. In addition, an open-to-sky ventilation system is to be provided to ventilate the hot air that travels up due to the density difference, and to re-circulate fresh cold air into the building.
7. Architectured floor space to enhance cross ventilation and maximise daylight infusion
Architecture plays a major role in optimising ventilation and daylight infusion. Example, a large window placed on the eastern wall of the building with translucent shades and blinds will optimise the entry of natural sunlight throughout the day. Planting wet trees on the outer periphery of the building act as an added thermal insulation and dust cover. Cutting out an OTS (open to sky vent) and raised roofing, the entire heat from the living room is vent out.
8. OTS system to optimise ambient daylight and ventilation
Open to Sky (OTS) ventilation is an age-old technique where the living area or a part of it is exposed to the sky. The roof is covered with FRP or an elevated RCC slab to entrain air and light ventilation. With this, there is ambient lighting provided in the living area and the air vent also ensures temperature balance.
9. Isolated gas bank with enhanced safety
LPG connection is highly risky when operated without sufficient awareness and caution. It is hence taken as utmost priority to install a gas-bank outside the living area so as to prevent any accidents pertaining to leak or poor ventilation. It also offers more convenience while replacing the cylinder and saves huge amounts of storage space in the kitchen.
10. Bio-gas plant powered by kitchen and table waste
A bio-gas system runs on food and vegetable waste from the kitchen that is generated on a day-to-day basis and produces substantial amounts of cooking gas. This eco-friendly system would greatly save costs and reduce our dependability on fossil fuels.
11. Rainwater harvesting
Rainwater management is a key factor in any habitat. Once the rainwater within the community is utilised, managing storms and floods would turn out much simpler. Two-stage rainwater harvesting system where water is first stored and upon overflow, it redirected to replenish ground water. The latter is further ensured by engineered subsoil drainage systems.
12. Maintenance free waste water treatment and groundwater replenishing system
Though metropolitan cities have well designed drainage system, occasional clogging in the drainage may cause sewer up run into the bathroom and shall also affect drainage down take. To deal with such conditions, it is essential to build an in-house water treatment unit, where the grey and black water soak pit and sediments settle and the overflowing water drains into the percolation tank. Through this tank the treated water replenishes ground water. Further the water reaches the water table after passing through layers of sand and silt that filters the water and replenishes the water with minerals, making them potable.
13. Compact and space efficient furnishing with fully modular kitchens
Space is of the primary concern when it comes to interior furnishing in any home. Big furniture usually end up occupying too much space which leads to lesser carpet area to move around. Infusing sleek high utility furniture that can be converted to suit the requirement would be the right choice owing to the cost savings in a commercial point of view and savings in space and therefore lesser room, from optimisation point of view.