One does not have to invest millions of rupees to make a building green.

With the cost of power making a dent on finances of companies, several among them are looking towards energy-saving measures for the long term. Methods for energy conservation begin at the stage of designing or construction of buildings.

Structures conforming to standards set by the Indian Green Building Council are known to increase power savings. More and more green building projects are being taken up in the public and the private sectors to become environment-friendly in an affordable way.

One of the significant projects taken up in the public sector is the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) building at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. It was primarily designed as a green building and will facilitate reduction in operating costs owing to less energy consumption, says its architect, B.R. Ajit, head of Ajit Associates, an architecture group, and chairman of the Kochi chapter of Indian Green Building Council.

“In fact, one does not have to invest millions of rupees to make a building green. A committed architectural vision and readiness to think out of the box can create a green building without any extra expenditure in comparison to ordinary buildings,” he says.

A green building can look like any other building or a futuristic structure. The basic idea is that the building should take advantage of maximum natural light and natural ventilation.

The C-DAC building will break the myth that use of glass will heat up the building and a large glass area is not an ideal solution for a comfortable building, especially in Kerala, Mr. Ajit says. “Stepping into the atrium of the building around noon, when the outside temperature is around 36 degrees Celsius, one will experience a cool environment. The area is cool, at a temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius less than the outside temperature in spite of the fact that the entire atrium has a slopping glass roof-cum-wall,” he says.

Glass is one of the most versatile materials for modern construction, he says. Its usefulness will outclass any disadvantages inherent in its use. It all depends on how the glass is used. The technique lies in the positioning of the glass panels. The sloped glazed roof over the atrium gives the entire interior area maximum day light. The southern and eastern sides, which get the most heat, are protected by a projected roof at each levels, thus keeping the lower floors cool. The roof-top garden protects the terrace from getting heated.

The service spaces are designed in such a manner so as to permit natural air movement, thereby reducing the air-conditioning cost by more than 30 per cent. The building is expected to give an overall energy reduction of 35-40 per cent and reduction in water consumption by almost 50 per cent, the architect says.

In most air-conditioned buildings, air quality can deteriorate, leading to the sick building syndrome. Insufficient fresh air supply is one of the major causes for it. The C-DAC building provides for 20 per cent fresh air displacement, thus avoiding any possibility of the syndrome.

A novel feature of the building is that solar and wind hybrid power equipment capable of producing 50 kW of power is set up on the rooftop.

Solar panels convert sunlight into power, while wind turbines convert wind, abundantly available there. About 10 per cent of the building's total energy requirement is being met from renewable energy resources.

R. RAMABHADRAN PILLAI