For passive cooling of your home

Ventilated filler roofVentilated filler roof

The design behind ventilated cavity filler roof. By architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

Global warming is happening much earlier than ever predicted, at which rate we may leave nothing for our future generations. While it is mandatory on all of us to reduce our consumptions, wastages, trash generation and such other measures, it is equally important to devise ways of comfortable living without depending upon energy and electricity.

Cavity roofs have been a part solution towards passive cooling, with embedding clay pots, hollow filler tiles and such others. However, during extreme summers even the hollow clay tiles are becoming less effective.

Heat gets transferred through conduction and convection, the former through solid materials and the latter through voids and spaces. When the building terrace receives direct sun rays, it gets heated up and starts to pass the heat downwards into the room below. Even the voids inside the hollow clay filler roof would let heat go through it, for this trapped air also gets heated with the surface heat being very high. In other words, the present day hollow clay filler roofs will let heat transfer through both the processes of conduction and convection, the void being a sealed one.

In case the trapped air inside the void which gets heated up is not sealed, but move across to let cool air in, then the heat transfer would somewhat reduce. This can be achieved by inserting a small length of electrical conduit pipe between the voids of the hollow clay filler blocks, which are embedded within the RCC roof.

Once all the blocks are in place, small length of pipes are inserted such that their ends are within the void of the filler block. It is not a continuous end-to-end pipe, which serves no purpose at all, but short connections between the voids. As the air inside the void gets heated up, it moves along the pipes to equalise the heat all over the filler block. At the edge block, this hotter air moves out of the block itself, while cooler air enters the voids from the other end.

Between the two outside edges of the slab, one would have breeze called windward direction and the other end will not have much air movement, called leeward direction. Air moves from windward to leeward directions, in the process pushing out the hot air accumulated inside all the voids of the filler roof. This would reduce the heat gain inside the room.

The ends are finished with slight bend to block rain water. Pipe pieces should not move so much that their end is within the tile gap which gets filled by concrete, in which case the continuous air movement will get blocked. All that the builder contractor has to oblige is let a few helpers insert the pipes, which is fairly fast. It’s a one-time investment of time and effort, to achieve passive cooling of slightly higher order.

The Hindu

Green buildings reduces operational expenses and improve the health and productivity of the residents

Think sustainable

While paving the way for sustainable development, green buildings not only reduce the operational expenses, but also improve the health and productivity of the residents.

The quantum of built-up area envisaged to be urbanised is simply humongous. Therefore, in order to extricate itself from the present scenario, India must follow the principles of sustainability. After all, the construction and operation of buildings have an enormous impact on the local environment, and also on greenhouse gas emissions.

“India has the highest growth rate of ‘building energy consumption’ in the world, so this concern is particularly pressing for corporates as well as for the government. To really tackle the challenge of making sustainable buildings, we need to rethink the way a building is designed and operated. Here, green buildings can surely offer a way to relieve the mounting pressure,” says Andrew Hines, co-founder, CleanMax Solar, a rooftop solar power development company.

See green, see life:

According to the Dodge Data & Analytics World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report, India is expected to see strong growth in the green building sector with nearly 55 percent of all projects likely to pursue green by 2021.

So, what are the top triggers driving the green building activity? Firstly, the clients today (particularly the commercial tenants) are demanding green certified buildings, followed by increased awareness among homebuyers about the advantages green buildings have on the health of the occupants, and lastly, the governmental push and environmental regulations.

The choice is yours…

A green building stands on five main pillars – water, waste, energy, human experience and carbon footprint. So, in line with the growing trend of green building development, the focus on the usage of sustainable products during the construction stage is immense.

“Double-glazed glass is being extensively used by architects in the construction of buildings. So are water-efficient fixtures and energyefficient lighting. Components – free of toxic materials such as chlorine, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium and cadmium – are also being frequently used by builders,” says GopalaKrishnan Padmanabhan, Managing Director –APAC and Middle East, Green Business Certificate Institute (GBCI).

Elaborating on the same line of thought, Harleen Oberoi, Senior Executive Director, Project Management India, Developer Projects Leader, South Asia, Colliers International, adds, “Blocks and concrete, which have a higher ratio of fly ash and blast furnace slag, are preferred by the developers.”

So, when it comes to finishes, “the objective is to use non-VOC emitting and anti-fungal alternatives in adhesives, paints, cladding, and carpets. With technology making big strides, light-weight precast concrete walls, fibre reinforced products as alternatives to conventional pipes, stray bales, compressed earth blocks, and other innovative building blocks for structural construct are also popular options.”

The way ahead:

According to the report (as mentioned earlier), 63 percent of Indian respondents said improved occupant health is the most important benefit of a green building. Additionally, respondents rated environmental reasons such as reducing energy and water consumption, and protecting resources. Therefore, experts believe that India is poised for an upward trajectory.

“Both developers and occupants have come to realise the benefits associated with green buildings. Sustainable products, which pass the acid test of having a positive impact on the environment, are being used in the construction of buildings. Not to forget, the demand by buyers for such buildings is high too,” concludes Padmanabhan.

Shehzin Shaikh, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Go green, be seen to address pollution and global warming

Today, there is an urgency to address issues such as pollution and global warming. And with developers of the residential market pledging to build environment-friendly spaces, green homes are within the reach of home-buyers.

Eco-friendly buildings invite a lot of hype but there are also concrete advantages to ‘going green’ when you build them. From improving indoor air quality to mitigating global climate change, these buildings help people live a more resource-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. Keeping these important factors in view, the developers of the residential market have pledged to build environment-friendly spaces.

The green building concept has always been around. Our ancestors had conventional homes with baked red roof tiles and walls made of clay; energy-efficient structures that used to keep the house cool during summers and warm during the winters. Today, we have advanced technologies that create smarter systems to control lighting systems, power, inside temperature, water supply and waste generation. C Shekar Reddy, Chairman, CII-IGBC Hyderabad, said, “In the current degrading environmental scenario, the need of the hour is to design and construct green buildings and communicate their benefits to various stakeholders. Developers are becoming increasingly conscious of the changing environmental conditions and thus working in their capacity to reduce the carbon footprint at every stage of construction.”

Follow the rules

Change starts with an individual, and especially in cities, it is time to act. Kalpana Ramesh, environmentalist, interior designer, director of Kaava, says, “The process should start from following zoning rules in construction to obtaining the necessary legal permissions for sewerage and building within the FSI. People should stop buying apartments, offices and homes built on illegal ground even if it means at lower costs. Directly or indirectly, we are responsible for diminishing natural resources.”

Green homes within reach

Due to slightly higher cost, green homes are generally targeted at the upper middle class and luxury home-buyers. Property consultant Shridhar Rao says, “Among such buyers, awareness about the benefits of green buildings tends to be quite high, so acceptance of a sustainable way of life is also high. However, one cannot ignore the fact that there is still a lack of awareness about green building practices and its long-term benefits among a large section of Indian users. A majority of users are under the impression that green building practices are expensive and not financially-feasible. But even middle-class buyers are now environment-conscious and would not mind paying a higher price if the project’s benefits are explained. At present, amenities that are being offered by developers have been made mandatory under government regulations.”

Cost of a green home versus a normal home

Green buildings provide financial benefits that conventional buildings do not. Mayank Saksena, MD – land services and head – South India, ANAROCK Property Consultants, explains, “Green building practices can improve the environment’s ecology in numerous ways. They reduce energy consumption by 20-30 percent and water usage by 30-50 percent as well as significantly reduce waste generation by extensive recycling. Apart from the obvious protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of green building practices leads to better air quality, enhanced daylight (leading to lower electricity consumption), superior health and overall well-being.”

Industry experts are of the view that although the initial costs of a green building may be higher (up to 15 percent depending on various factors) than conventional buildings, there are many long-term benefits. Reddy explains, “Anyone buying a house should keep in mind that it will stand for at least 50 years or so. And even if, for a moment, we agree that the cost of the house increases, it doesn’t matter if you invest an additional amount because in the coming years, you would be able to enjoy benefits such reduced electricity bills, better comfort, and good health at lower operating cost. And the payback period is hardly two years. Also the incremental cost of these buildings has come down to about two to three per cent over a conventional building at present.”

Vibha Singh, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Building walls with earth

 

With scientifically improvised technology, mud buildings can be made to last for centuries, contrary to common belief. By architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi

It is a curious phenomenon – we all live in a planet called Earth, walk upon it, build shelters with it, and eat from it, yet we are on our way to destroy it As such, re-connecting with the Earth appears to be among the major solutions to the climate crisis. Given this, in the construction sector, we need to return to Earth, in all its terms and versions like soil, mud, terracotta, clay, silt, gravel, sand or stone.

Let us ask ourselves a simple multiple-choice question. Among all existing structures in the world, what could be the most commonly found wall material? Choice of answers – stone, mud, burnt bricks, wood. Anyone with common sense may answer it as ‘it could be mud’. Besides being the most common and most historic, mud walls have much to tell about how we lived in the past, for they sheltered the history of human civilisations. Incidentally, mud walls have a future too, in these days of climate change and ecological challenges.

The construction industry today is being blamed for one-third of GHG (Green House Gas) emissions, hence is at a crossroads. To mitigate this crisis, there is an urgent need to minimise manufactured materials and promote natural materials. The least we can do is to attempt a synthesis of traditional construction systems and modern creativity.

This is where mud architecture comes in handy. The methods of improvising traditional systems has re-validated the use of mud, to claim a pole position towards sustainable architecture.

No modern material replacing mud is yet to equal all the qualities of mud walls. It has the lowest cost in most regions; lowest embodied energy; highest insulation from heat gain; option of using mud plastering; possibility of coating wide range of natural colours; option for bamboo or steel reinforcement; and can be used for all parts of the buildings right from foundation to roof. With scientifically improvised technology today, mud buildings can be made to last for centuries. Unfortunately, too many myths have been spread about mud, including it cracks, taking time to build, difficult to repair, monotonous and such others, as if modern construction methods are devoid of all these. This myth has come to stay, despite the fact that the way traditional mud houses lasted for centuries modern ones may not, which everyone is aware of.

So, the hesitation to build an earthy building appears to come more from fear and apprehension, than from knowledge and experience. Fortunately, mud walls are making a big return in modern architecture, though it is limited to certain regions only.

The technology of rammed earth walls has now been researched into fairly deeply and proven by various institutions such as Mrinmayee, Auroville Earth Institute, and Hunnarshala Foundation, besides many individual consultants. It is time to consider building walls with earth seriously, to save ourselves.

Source The Hindu

Every breath you take

Every breath you take may not be cleaner than the air outside. With the issue of air pollution making the news every day, are we really safe in the confines of our homes?

As you step out in the morning on your way to work, you can’t help, but notice the thick blanket of smog over the city. You rush to work so you can get into the safety of your air-conditioned office. But is the air in your office any better?

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Delhi and Cairo have the worst PM10 pollution levels out of the world’s megacities. The study further reveals that indoor air pollution contributes between 22 and 52 percent to the overall pollution levels.

Barun Aggarwal, CEO, Breathe Easy Consultants, opines that while the composition of indoor air is different from outside air quality, it can be equally harmful. “Air pollution is dynamic. In India, Particulate Matter (PM) is extremely high in most cities. And since most of us spend almost 90 percent of our time indoors (office, schools, home), the risk of getting exposed to it is high.”

A WHO study states that air pollution is responsible for the deaths of seven million people worldwide each year; most of them residing in Asia and Africa. Of the seven million, 3.8 million were from indoor air pollution ( due to cook stoves), which is a huge problem in India.

Indoor quality is determined by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), bio-aerosols and nitrous oxides (cooking gas), and is also influenced by pollution caused by vehicles and industrial plants. Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) air pollution programme explains, “The main culprits are VOCs that may be released by various sources including paints, glues, resins, polishing materials, and furnishings as well as a lack of proper ventilation and breeding of moulds. Hence, it is important to pay attention to the materials we use indoors since the ability to avoid pollution here is in our hands.”

The Centre introduced several measures and programmes to improve air quality indoors.

One such initiative was providing around 37 million poor women with free gas connections to encourage them to switch from coal/dung-fired clay ovens to cooking gas. However, in an urban setting, it is not just cooking that we need to worry about.

Rajat Malhotra, COO for IFM in West Asia and head of JLL points out, “CO2 levels in our bedrooms are more than six times the CO2 levels outside. Air quality within our office/ workspaces and rooms is much unhealthier. Till the WHO report was published, we were kept blinkered and blindfolded for so many years. Today, people want to know what is happening.” However, Roychowdhury asserts that built-in design intervention in buildings is a critical aspect.

“It is essential to pay a lot more attention to the architectural and building design, and it should become a part of the building by-laws to ensure that they meet the health indicators associated with the indoor air quality,” she explains, adding that despite guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board, there is still no active implementation.

On the same note, Sujatha Ganapathy, VC – WELL AP, Knight Frank India, concludes, “At the government level, better transportation and construction methods will help control pollution levels. That means using low VOC content in buildings, and reducing the creation of dust in constructions, which is classified as PM10 and can cause a wide range of health problems including respiratory illnesses.”

Solutions:Use a dehumidifier and/ or air conditioner to reduce moisture;

Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests;

Minimise air freshener use;

Ensure that exhaust fans are functional in your bathrooms andkitchen;

Avoid scented candles;

Keep plants indoors, which can significantly reduce indoor air pollution;

Using LPG instead of biomass fuel for cooking can significantly reduce the level of indoor
pollution.

Deborah Pereira, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Five décor mistakes to avoid – 360 Property Management

Five décor mistakes to avoid

Chennai

1. Matching-matching

Matching your décor with your accessories gives it a well-rounded look, but do not go overboard. Break the pattern or add an accent colour. If you are planning to opt for a nude colour palette, add colours that pop by incorporating colourful cushions or a solid colour carpet or even a few vases.

2. Over accessorising

Do not go overboard with the accessories and use only those you need. Too many elements in the house can make it look cluttered and eat into your space.

3. Fake greenery

Fake flowers and plants don’t add much to the room. They accumulate dust and aren’t as aesthetically-pleasing as real flowers. Instead, opt for real flowers and plants as they make your space look alive, provide a lingering fragrance and help purify the air. You can also incorporate a fruit bowl as the center-piece on your table. The natural colours add life to the table and you will always have a healthy snack at hand at all times.

4. Lacking personality

Not adding enough elements to personalise your home may end up making it look like an apartment. The home may also lack the welcoming and homely vibe. Add a few pictures, display your awards, paintings or wall hangings that you may have taken up as a hobby, or show off your guitar in a corner. The point here is to not be perfect, but make your imperfections a part of your home.

5. Pushed to the wall

This is a common setup that can be observed in an ideal Indian home. Give that a break; arrange the furniture in a different way; move your couch and chair to the centre and add a rug beneath it, thus creating a seating area for conversations. Opt for a table, which is the same height as your couch and place it behind the couch; now you have an additional table-top, which also hides the back of your couch.

Pooja Mahimkar, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

All you need to know about Single emergency helpline number ‘112’

Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

Single emergency helpline number '112' launched: All you need to know

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Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

India is finally getting its single emergency helpline number. The number is similar to ‘911’ in the United States. Launching the helpline number, the home minister Rajnath Singh said, “The helpline number ‘112’ will be activated across the country by next year and anyone in distress can reach the helpline by pressing a single key on phones which will be pre-programmed.”

Here’s all you need to know about the single-emergency number …

'112' is pan-India single emergency helpline number

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‘112’ is pan-India single emergency helpline number

The ‘112’ emergency number has been launched under Emergency Response Support System (ERSS).

The '112' emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

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The ‘112’ emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

The ‘112’ number is an integration of Police (100), Fire (101) and Women (1090) helpline numbers. The aim is to provide all these emergency services through a single number.

The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

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The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

According to officials, the Health helpline number ‘108’ will be integrated with this soon.

This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

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This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

With the new single-emergency number in place, citizens will no longer have to remember multiple helpline numbers.

The '112' number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

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The ‘112’ number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

The emergency number ‘112’ has been launched in 16 states and union territories. These include Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman, Dadar Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Jammu and Kashmir.

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How it works

To access the ‘112’ emergency services, a person can dial the number on a phone or press the power button three times quickly to send a panic call to the Emergency Response Centre (ERC).

Long press '5' or '9' on feature phones

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Long press ‘5’ or ‘9’ on feature phones

In case of feature phone, a long press on ‘5’ or ‘9’ keys too will activate the panic call function.

'112' helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

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‘112’ helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

Himachal Pradesh became the first state to launch the emergency number ‘112’ in November 2018.

The emergency number will be gradually rolled out across the country.

A century-old residence gets a makeover in Chennai

Art of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon DaruwalaArt of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon Daruwala

A century-old residence gets a makeover, yet retains its glory at the hands of architect Husna Rahaman who deftly plays with hues and patterns. By Nandhini Sundar

When faced with a century-old residence or even one that is half the age, the immediate reaction is to demolish and develop the site or build a fabulous contemporary dwelling, money and space permitting. Restoring such a building to its former glory is beyond the radar, especially given the economics behind such an initiative. The state of the structure and the lifestyle the interior facilities offer, further promote this inclination.

Old living room

Old living room

Yet, one such stately colonial residence came up, not for being rebuilt, but for restoration, keeping intact the fibre of the structure while infusing just the right level of contemporary comforts.

When architect Husna Rahaman of Fulcrum Studio was given the century-old sprawling 7,000 sq. ft colonial home for restoration, the structure essentially a no-nonsense load-bearing piece of engineering that cannot be tampered with on whim, she realised that strategic alterations, if any, could happen only where absolutely necessary.

New-look living area

New-look living area

The entire restoration thus occurred on a delicate balance of reverence and relevance, the regal aura retained while the modern functional quotient was brought in where relevant.

Profusion of hues, patterns

In tune with the era it related to, the residence came with its accompanying hues and patterns that literally saturated the spaces, the patterned antique floor and wall tiles engulfing the ambience. Without shunning this past grandeur, Rahaman set about managing deftly the play of hues and patterns where they would enchant and refresh, without submerging the senses.

Porch after restoration

Porch after restoration

“It was literally a riot of colours and this base was used as a spring board to complement the residence where it is not eliminated but used to balance”, she explains. Keeping this intent in perspective, an elegant network of wood verticals and horizontals were brought in to frame the length and breadth of the expansive living area. A new set of chandeliers were added, yet the design of these were kept deliberately colonial in keeping with the structure.

The rich flooring was retained, along with the porcelain tile dadoing on the walls, both in the living area as well as rest of the residence. A refreshing contemporary twist was brought into the space by introducing metal motifs on the walls, the motifs reflecting the existing patterns. While the walls and ceiling continue to accommodate the wooden columns and beams, a reminder of the colonial past, the contemporary flavour wafts into the spaces through concealed lights and metal motifs.

Contemporary upgrade

The living area reveals the presence of two groups of furniture, each connected by a large back-to-back sofa cluster. The unusual blend of materials and styles seen in the living area and carried methodically into the rest of the residence, where luxury is paired with minimalism and exquisite Indian crafts tie in seamlessly with streamlined forms, reveals a reverential contemporary upgrade of a glorious past.

Lovely library

Lovely library

While the strong imperial character of the structure has been reverentially retained, the spaces have been infused with warmth to address the home it ultimately is. This has been successfully achieved through application of soft roses on the walls, neutral colours with subtle pops of colour in the rugs, strips of wallpaper and cushions in shades of pink and orange.

Likewise, the spatial poetry of the house, an element lacking in modern crowded structures, has been preserved to integrate the multiple rooms, where the past meets the present, opening the spaces to surreal vistas.

Infusing metal

Given the era of the residence, metal does not figure in its construction. Yet, a contemporary twist has been brought in by infusing metal craftily into the stately space, lightening the palette. The floral medallion in the living area serves as a symbolic confluence of the metallic motifs used in the rest of the residence. Metal also features as an artistic railing for the staircase, replacing the previous cement and brick staircase. The terrace further reveals a stunning dark grey metal gazebo to unwind and relax, besides serving as an entertainment zone when need arises.

Sun room

The first level of the building came with narrow spaces, yet the interiors were filled with abundant natural light. Rahaman decided to capture this effectively to create a sunny library. “The room came with its quota of colours and patterns like the rest of the house and the space was converted into a turquoise library with a western exposure by merely introducing rugs into the space.”

The ‘sun room’ reveals rugs in intense hues of ochre and turquoise blue, soaked in geometric patterns where they define the floor, with the turquoise blue and wood verticals on the walls complementing the same. Vibrant in conception, the space greets with a burst of exuberance, the twin daybeds created between the columns further enhancing with their presence.

Source The Hindu

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

A lowering of goods and services tax for under-construction houses would bring about greater alignment in the real estate sector, said SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar.

In an exclusive interview with ETNow, the SBI chief said: “GST on non-affordable housing rate may fall to 5 percent and that of affordable housing to 3 percent. The move will bring alignment in the real estate sector.”

His remarks come against the backdrop of a panel, headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, favoring a cut in GST on under-construction residential properties to 5 percent, from 12 percent currently. In its first meeting, the group of ministers (GoM) also pitched for slashing GST on affordable housing from 8 percent to 3 percent.

The GoM was set up last month to examine tax rates and issues and challenges being faced by the real estate sector under the GST regime.

The Chairman of the largest state-owned bank hoped that any such decision by the GST Council in its next meeting will lead to faster clearance of houses.

A build-up in inventory and subdued prices have long been a pain for the realty industry. Reflecting the state of affairs, industry body Credai said people are postponing their decisions to buy under-construction flats because of high GST rate of 12 percent and 8 percent on affordable homes.

About RBI’s recent surprise policy move to slash benchmark lending rate in a bid to boost lending and lift economic growth, Kumar said the benefit will be passed on to borrowers “if our marginal cost of funding comes down”.

Bankers are reluctant to pass on all of 25 basis point rate cut because of loads of bad loans and the high cost of deposits, according to Reuters. For the banks, any cut in loan rates will have to be accompanied by a corresponding fall in deposit rates, which is linked to a significant improvement in cash conditions.

Banks price their benchmark loan rates, known as the marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR), mainly based on the cost of deposits.

Source: Economic Times