While constructing buildings, we convert the available natural resources from their original condition into another form of energy. Some thoughts on this process from our eco-friendly architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

Imagine a quiz competition. Who produces cars? Well, we may say Tata or Toyota. Who produces cameras? The answer could be Nikon or Kodak. Who makes home electric switches? We all know it – Anchor or Lisha. Now let us go little deeper. Who is actually behind the making of these objects? Are we humans or these companies really producing them afresh or are they only modifying the raw materials found around? The answer is so obvious that we need not even state it.

Nature is behind every object, including those produced by humans. Fundamentally, it is mother earth that ensures Tata car or Kodak camera or Anchor switch is produced. All that we do is to convert available natural resources from their original condition into another form of energy. This process costs nature its resources and humans, monetary costs.

Great message

The 3D film ‘Avatar,' which stands for nature, spread a great message, while raking in billions of dollars. But is it ever possible to calculate the sum total carbon footprint it must have created? How much of the world's resources a mega event like Olympics would consume? How much energy goes into maintaining the servers of global systems like Yahoo or Google? What does introducing a new system like Metro rail into a fully built city like Delhi or Bangalore mean? Or closer home, what happens when a family goes on a month-long trip abroad, staying in plush hotels and hopping into flights every three days?

Eco-concern is not prescribing inaction

The first reaction to the above thoughts would be the line “So, what do we do - do nothing?” Doing nothing is not a solution, but a thoughtless reaction. The inevitable act of living on earth would demand equally inevitable consumption of earth's resources. Let's remember, all these centuries, the earth did not appear threatened! If we can introspect intelligently, we can again establish our balance with nature.

Construction contributes to more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. As we all know now, the emissions play a major role in climate change.

Urbanisation is happening faster than ever today, as proved by the recent census as well, and accommodating the urban needs of houses, schools, offices and shops is demanding round-the-clock construction.

Yes, individually we need all these buildings and some of us can afford them, but collectively are they sustainable?

With our only model being constructing huge, irreversible steel & RCC buildings, are we solving our present needs or creating future problems?

Once the natural raw materials transform into new building forms, they cannot go to their original condition any more.

Greater the processing and manufacturing, larger will be the consumption and costs.

Transportation, production time wastage, marketing network, exclusivity of the product and many such seen and unseen factors contribute to the final cost we pay in rupees.

With these deeper thoughts about cost, not only in human terms, but equally well for nature, let us get into the details about costs in the coming weeks.

(The writer is an architect working for eco-friendly designs and can be contacted at varanashi@gmail.com)