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SUSTAINABLE SITE RESPONSIVE ARCHITECTURE

INTRODUCTION
As we all understand, sustainability is about being able to
continue with the current ways of doing things, consumption
patterns, and lifestyle etc. without compromising on similar future
needs.
However, sustainability is not really an original idea; its like old
wine in a new bottle.
Along the journey in time, established ideas have got diluted or
lost somewhere. Moreover through the changing eras, a lot of
new issues have been thrown up and it is necessary to respond
to those as well. The major impact is that of depleting resources
as against the increasing needs and the consequent ecological
footprint that is getting threateningly large and completely
unmanageable.
That is why we have to embark on this active agenda of pushing
sustainable practices.

APPROACHES
Sustainability could have two basic approaches:
o Naturalistic or the passive or
o Active or artificial.
The latter is energy driven; and can be seen largely as what
could be termed as second level or sometimes even as remedial
measures. Whereas the earlier one, is simply smart design,
planning and detailing; more importantly, done at the right stage.

THE INDIAN CONTEXT:
As Indians, we have a sustainable outlook towards life in general;
we have been living sustainable lives since generations. This bank
of wisdom is our legacy today and the onus is on us to see
how it can be taken forward.
This outlook has embraced all walks of life, be it alternative
medicine, social sustainability or sustainability of the built
environment.
RICH AND DIVERSE VERNACULAR TRADITIONS:
Our rich vernacular tradition actually starts from the natural
settings of the site/city, and responds to metaphysical concerns,
climate, local skills/materials and appropriate technology.
More importantly, it is a passive approach and thus less energy
intensive; these are proven technologies and often scalable.
Pictures of jalli wall, courtyard houses, water tanks, orientation

THE VERNACULAR IS IT SUSTAINABLE ?
The vernacular architecture could be understood as the building
traditions which have been developed by people over generations
and often built by themselves.
These are tried and tested practices which have actually sustained
the ravages of time; they have been handed down through
generations. They rely on passive measures, by and large and
respond to the context.

Basically, it is architecture without architects.
The basis of vernacular is that it responds to several contextual
aspects:
o Climate, Place, Culture, Materials, Local skills and also
o Maintenance, Durability and Metaphysical aspects
The premise is that the vernacular tradition was extremely
sustainable in every sense of the word let us see how through
some examples

ENERGY AND ITS ASPECTS: LIGHT AND VENTILATION
Light: Most of our buildings had grills etc and fenestration/faade
engineering done to control and manipulate light by means of
devices like jalis or double windows with wooden louvers etc.
A lot of religious buildings like temples and masjids also used
similar strategies to control light and air movement.
Water: More lavish buildings like palaces and forts made ingenious
use of water to cool the building envelope; the walls would have
water pipes embedded inside to cool down the masonry walls; the
water was cooled naturally by making it run over surfaces and
exposing it to the atmosphere.
Ventilation: Wind scoops also allowed the entry of breeze into the
hot desert zones; micro climatic modifications include the
introduction of dripping water by installing a pot at the top of the
scoop.

COURTYARD ARCHITECTURE
Courtyard architecture: The courtyard home was the prevailing
Indian planning model before the advent of western ones. It was
very versatile; as a climatic device, as an outdoor cooking/dining,
sleeping/living area and for festivities etc.
It was adaptable to any climate across Indian cultures and
geographies. That explains its survival.
Proportions: A hot humid zone should have courtyards with more
length and breadth compared to height where the basic climatic
strategy is to cut out heat and provide air movement. A hot dry
climate needs more height to provide shade. It allows cool air to
settle down in the summer and allow outdoor living in the sunnier
parts of the courtyard in winters.
LEARNINGS
Learnings from the vernacular that can be used in contemporary
architecture
Make use of passive measures: Use planning devices like
courtyards, suitable orientation, envelope design and appropriate
detail elements like jalis, water bodies with responsive roof and
fenestration design.
Make use of local materials without major modifications in their
naturally occurring organic states to complete the loop along with
the use of local crafts and skills.
Build to create structures that are largely durable and maintenance
free.
Ensure resource optimization: Go for water harvesting and
recycling, energy optimization by ensuring good daylight and
ventilation, (using natural currents, with wind scoops, solar
chimneys etc) space cooling/heating (using passive measures like
geothermal energy or earth sheltered buildings)
Limitations: This architecture cannot be replicated the way it was
built by our ancestors for the current populations numbers nor for
the urban high rise typology. However, its strength is that, it is
adaptable to change; that probably explains how it has survived to
date.

CONTEMPORARY SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS

The Golconde, Pondicherry:
It is the first sustainable rcc building in modern India and perhaps the
earliest one in the world as well. (1945) it is planned on vernacular
traditions like climate sensitivity and radical economy by minimal
resource consumption and uncompromising construction standards to get
a durable, maintenance free building.
Passive strategies:
The building allows air flow across the north south long facades;
through the louvered external wall and the screened internal wall
partitions of the residential quarters and out through its windows.
The east and west have minimal exposure minimizing the solar gain.


Modern interpretations of the courtyard

SUSTAINABLE PLANNING
The sustainable planning could be classified under three broad sectors
and sub-sectors within as follows.
Energy and indoor comfort-energy, comfort
Water and wastewaterwater, sewage, storm water
Quality of built environment solid waste, pollution,ecology and
geology, building material

ENERGY
The prime intent for sustainable planning is to enable the reduction of
energy consumed by buildings, through proper transport planning in large
neighbourhoods, site planning, and adopting climate-responsive design for
buildings, in addition to using efficient lighting and space cooling.
The three fundamental strategies adopted to optimize energy
performance in a building.
Reducing energy demand
Maximizing system efficiency
Optimizing the usage of renewable energy

Integrated Green Design (IGD) approach
The Integrated Green Design (IGD) approach looks at a building in
stages of its planning and design from the broader issues to the
details. Each stage within the IGD approach fulfils one or more of the
five Green building imperatives.

STAGES OF PLANNING & DESIGN
Sustainable Site Planning
The IGD approach starts not from the site layout but from site
selection. While not possible in all cases, wherever possible efforts
must be made to choose an appropriate site for the proposed
use of the building.
This would result in less damage of virgin land and less energy
expenditure in developing a site. For buildings within large
campuses, selecting an appropriate plot within is equally important.




COMPACT CLUSTER PLANNING
Cluster based planning of the building blocks within campuses
results in more compact utilities network, reduces damage to
existing environment and promotes walkability. Sharing spaces,
services and creating a medium-rise, high density development
complements this.

AVOID NATURAL
DRAINAGE LINES
- Especially important
in sloped sites.
Obstructing natural
drainage lines would
involve energy use to
drain out storm water
or risk site flooding
READY ACCESS TO
EXISTING
INFRASTRUCTURE
- Electricity supply
- Water supply
- Public transport
Helps reduce need for
new infrastructure
Bank
Shops
One block shades
the other
LAYOUT AND DESIGN OF BUILDINGS SHOULD BE AS PER
SOLAR GEOMETRY
Longer dimensions of buildings should face north and south (with
a maximum deviation of 5 off north) and shorter dimensions
should face east and west.
The southern sides of the plots should be shaded by deciduous
trees. In case of high-rise structures, windows or faade should
be shaded by in-built shading devices.
The east and west faades should be protected by using shading
devices, vegetation or buffer spaces.
Courtyards should be oriented along eastwest axis to capture
maximum wind. To create cooler microclimate conditions, water
elements should be provided along the wind paths.





High sun angle in summer
on the south side. Hence
easy to shade
Exposure variation
summer / winter
Minimum radiation on
the north side allowing
large windows for
excellent day lighting
Low sun angle in winter
allows welcome solar
access
Low sun angle, on east
and west. Difficult to
shade in summer
N
S
E
W
June 21
Dec 21
ORIENTATION OF BUILDINGS
A building can be laid out and designed on the basis of sun
path and wind direction.
A building designed according to solar path remains comparatively
cool in summers and warm in winters, thus obviating the need for
artificial heating or cooling.
If oriented properly, a building receives comparatively less
radiation, which results in lesser heat gains.
This reduces overall air conditioning requirement, which, in turn,
saves energy.
Solar angle and altitude with respect to a particular surface vary
with time, following a distinct geometry. This geometry can be
followed while designing a building.
Proper layout and design of a building ensure that the building
benefits the maximum from the wind so that there is no need for
artificial ventilation and cooling.
Planned layout and design of a building make the building get
just enough sunlight, without any glare.
Incorporation of shading devices can be planned in the initial
stages of layout and design, which will lead to energy efficiency
and add to the aesthetic appeal of the building.
As the sun moves from east to west and sun path is more
inclined towards south, the north faades of the building do not
receive direct radiation.
Solar angles are low in east and west, while high in south.
In efficient buildings, the longer faade faces north and south,
while the smaller faade faces east and west.
The radiation can be cut-off by using shading devices.
Shading devices protect the building by obstructing the vertical
shadow angle and horizontal shadow angle, which are calculated
from sun path diagram.



DESIGNING A SOLAR PASSIVE BUILDING
Solar passive architecture design strategies
Landscaping: Micro climate of a place can be altered by growing
trees and vegetation. Roof gardens also reduce heat load.



Water bodies: Water has a moderating effect on air temperature.
It has a high thermal storage capacity. Water evaporation has a
cooling effect on surroundings.

Orientation: The amount of solar radiation falling on a surface
varies with orientation.
Building form: Building form affects solar access and wind
exposure as well as the rate of heat gain and loss through the
external envelope.
Building materials and construction techniques: The energy content
of a building can be reduced by using building materials that use
low energy in manufacturing.
Cooled wind is
welcome
Wind for night
ventilation is
welcome
Building envelope: Building envelope components like walls, roof,
windows, floor, and surface finishes are the key determinants of
the amount of heat gain or loss and wind entering the building.
Thermal storage/thermal capacity: The heat storing capacity of
building materials helps to moderate fluctuation in the indoor
temperature by providing a time delay.
Thermal insulation: Insulation should be placed on the external
side of wall and roof composition. Heat gain through roofs could
be reduced by external insulation, green roof or use of high
reflective material on roof top.

PASSIVE TECHNIQUES AND FEATURES
The first step to achieve passive cooling in a building is to
reduce unnecessary thermal loads that might enter it. Usually,
there are two types of thermal loads
(1) Exterior loads due to the climate.
(2) Internal loads due to people, appliances, cooking,
bathing, lights etc.
Proper zoning of different components and local ventilation of
major heat sources can reduce the overall impact of internally
generated heat loads. Table 1, summarises the basic cooling
strategies that can be considered in a building design.

Depending on the weather, the thermal load enters into a building
in three major ways:
(1) Penetration of direct beam sunlight.
(2) Conduction of heat through walls, roofs etc.
(3) Infiltration of outside air.

Passive cooling strategies need to be incorporated at the design
initiation stage based on the planed organization of spaces in the
building. This will ensure minimum HVAC loads even if any active
cooling systems are desired.

EVAPORATIVE COOLING
Evaporative cooling works well in the hot-dry climate as humidity is low
in this zone. But water availability needs to be checked



Water bodies outside or in courtyard,
for cooling the air. Water bodies should
be shaded to minimize evaporation
losses.
Central wind tower system, with water
spray on top. Useful for cooling double
loaded corridors.
Very acceptable method as humidity is
welcome. Water availability needs to be
checked.
Wind catcher
Usable space
Water spray
EARTH AIR TUNNEL SYSTEM
This system is viable if the ground below has good thermal capacity,
for. E.g. soil with adequate water content. The design basics generally
followed are (from various existing systems):
- Pipe depth 4m
- Pipe diameter 0.3 to 0.7m
- Distance between pipes 3m centre-to centre
- Pipe length

NIGHT VENTILATION
Night ventilation works well in this climatic zone as diurnal variations
are high. In this process, buildings are ventilated at night when ambient
temperatures are lower to resist heat build-up.
.


Fresh air inlet Cool air into
building
Day-time building
heat gain
Night-time ventilation removes the
heat gained during the day.
THERMAL MASS


LANDSCAPING FOR IMPROVING OCCUPANT COMFORT

PLANNING PLANTATION

Reducing water demand: Water demand for a landscape can be
reduced, by planting, native and low water consuming plants. This
is called xeriscape.
Xeriscape design: Xeriscape landscaping incorporates seven basic
principles, which help in water saving and conservation.
Planning and design: A good design should be considered keeping
existing structures, plants, budget, water requirement, and other
factors in mind.
Soil analysis and preparation: Before undertaking planting, soil of
the area should be analysed. Organic matter should be added, if
required.
Appropriate plant selection: Native and drought-tolerant plants thrive
the best in any given landscape. Growth rate and size of the
plants, and light, water, and temperature needs should also be
considered when designing the landscape.
DAY NIGHT
A building envelope with higher thermal
mass will retard heat transfer from the
exterior to the interior during the day.
When temperatures fall at night, the walls
re-radiate the thermal energy back into the
night sky. Extensively used in traditional
buildings in the region
Mulching: A layer of non-living matter, or mulch, on the soil
conserves water, reduces weed population, prevents soil
compaction, and keeps soil temperature moderate.
Watering: The greatest waste of water is applying too much too
often. The key to watering lawns is to apply water infrequently,
yet thoroughly.
Efficient irrigation system: A combination of drip and sprinkler
irrigation methods should be used for watering plants in a
landscape.





Less trees on the north to
let in daylight. More trees
to the NW and NE to cut
off summer radiation
Trees close to
building on the
west and closely
spaced for shading
Trees prevent infiltration
of dust laden hot summer
winds
Preserve existing
vegetation as they
are a free micro-
climate modifier.
Promote native
species needing less
water
Deciduous trees on the
south side for shading in
summer and solar
access in winter
Trees act as noise
and dust barrier
REDUCING URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT (UHIE) TO COOL
BUILDINGS & SURROUNDINGS



PROMOTING GROUNDWATER RECHARGE
Reducing paved areas and using pervious paving reduces UHI
effect and improves groundwater recharge. Such paving can be
used in walkways, pavements, vehicular roads within the site,
ramps, etc.



Roof surfaces absorb the highest
heat
Paved surfaces absorb heat and
the reflected heat is absorbed by
surrounding building surfaces thus
increasing heat gain
Use roof finishes with high albedo
Shade parking area &
pavements, through
pergola, vegetation,
photovoltaics etc.
Trees for noise & dust
buffering
Increase soft paved
area
Light
colored wall
surfaces will
absorb less
heat
Concrete grid paver

Sand compact sub-base
Gravel
Compact sub-soil base

Pervious paving
Disadvantages of hard paving
Hard paving decreases infiltration of water during rains, increasing
storm water run-off and causing water logging in low-lying areas.
Hard paved surfaces are generally coated with asphalt and
concrete, which absorb solar radiation and raise the temperature
of the surroundings. This leads to heat-islands in built-up areas,
increasing the use of air conditioners and power consumption in
general.




.IGD 29 to 31.