Sustainable construction materials are the future

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Chennai

The booming construction industry is slowly waking up to the fact that using sustainable construction materials is the only way to coexist with the planet without any major repercussions.

Brick by brick, my citizens, brick by brick,” said the great Roman emperor Hadrian once. Of course, the brick referred to something much greater than a block of baked mud; it stood for perseverance. To pursue what is right regardless of the norm and to evolve for the better.

It has long been known that evolution in nature happens much more easily than it does with anything that is man-made. In the real estate sector, anybody even vaguely familiar with industry parlance knows that buildings have long been called concrete structures. And for that to change, things need to be done differently right from the planning stage.

“Cities are turning into concrete jungles. Although the phrase has been overused in recent times, it is not untrue. For something that is rapidly covering the face of the earth in all shapes and sizes, it is high time we shift to materials that are more compatible with the planet. That sustainable building materials are the need of the hour is not news, but in order to actually make a difference, we need to bring about a drastic change in the way buildings are planned,” says Murugan G, a self-made designer and architect who strongly advocates the use of sustainable building material.

Evolving to suit the current conditions is the only way to move forward. This however is easier said than done. For a regular working professional, the idea of building a house that does not contribute to the destruction of the planet and yet suits his own needs, as appealing as it may be, stands the risk of never being realised. The reason behind this is the lack of awareness and availability of resources. For Ivan Joseph, a retired banker, building his own house with sustainable materials was one of the most difficult tasks he had undertaken.

“It has been over seven years since our house got built. Thankfully, today everything from the materials as well as the services involved are much more easily available, but back then plenty of people had warned me about what I was getting into. My wife and I had been planning an eco friendly house for long, but we could never have imagined the difficulties we would have to face at every step of the way. Right from sourcing the materials to getting the right professionals to do the job, everything was an uphill task. Usually building a house this size takes about a year but ours took almost three years,” he says.

Currently, there are a number of products in the market like slag cement, flyash concrete, flyash or AAC blocks, engineered wood frames, UPVC glazed windows, green rated electrical and plumbing materials and equipment and low VOC paint. Although these products are only available at a premium, increased use will hopefully lead to affordable eco-material in the future.

“In the current scenario, sustainable products are getting a mixed response but are definitely available if sourced properly. However, acceptability of such products is growing at a very slow pace. As builders, we need to play our part in making the world aware of the benefits of such practices and make the world a greener and better place for our future generations,” says Aadarsh Surana, managing director, Amarprakash Developers.

Most people who are not part of the construction industry are not aware of the options that they have. The lack of awareness is what needs to be addressed first. When there are better options available easily, people will be open to try them out and over the course of time that will become the norm.

The sooner we realise this, the lesser will be the damage control that we will have to do in order to reverse the ill-effects of having used inappropriate materials for years together.

Source Divya Menon, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai