Important among the reactions Green Sense has elicited and heard more often than the rest is “all of this is easier said than done.” Here are some observations from architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi
No one can refute this statement: when all is said and done, more is said than done. However, if the starting point of eco-friendly buildings is trying out an idea by doing, the theory following from behind, then we can confidently state that we are saying what we have been doing.
Despite such practical experiences, everyone cannot replicate what has been done in one place at one time.
Not only the new ideas, even conventional construction is suffering today from the challenges of implementing the ideas.
Skilled labour for either type is in short supply, with majority of younger population shifting to sales, driving, office jobs, restaurants and such others. With much lesser hard work and toiling outdoor, they are able to earn equal or greater salary than on building sites.
Working with natural materials, proper carpentry, un-plastered walls, filler slabs, hollow core walls and such others demand both expertise and interest, which in turn demand passion with a discerning eye and attitude. Also, with a new work culture coming to stay in cities, clients and architects are increasingly demanding quality construction from the full team at site, be it the mason or the carpenter.
Many labourers try to avoid such passions and responsibilities, quitting the field all together.
Unlike the formal sector, the construction industry is mainly dependant on daily wages, often calculated for a week and settled. As such the labourers tend to work for as many days as they wish to earn the basic income and take leave rather frequently.
With wages rising sharply, complimented by certain types of government schemes like own house, rice, health insurance or NREGA job guarantee, many labourers do not bother to work the full month, without which also they can manage the family expenses.
Discontinuity in work schedules becomes a negation of perfection and performance to the project.
The rate of urbanisation has led to prolific construction activity with no real time to train the construction labour, advice better practices or supervise the quality.
After few years of defective workmanship, the worker cannot change his style, so much so that mid-career training is impossible in this field.
Most construction workers in big cities are migrant labourers, with neither exposure nor awareness about perfection or best practice, with hardly any training programme in place. As such, building quality suffers for ever.
We need to identify and elaborate labour problems of the above kind, not to take the escapist route, but to seek solutions to this emerging context.