Sustainable Buildings & Construction Practices - An Overview

A NIT Tiruchirappalli alumnus, Ashish has completed his MS in Mechanical Engineering & Nanotechnology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and MBA in Finance from The Wharton School. He boasts of a 20-year long career during which he has handles key responsibilities across diverse types of companies that include MTI MicroFuel Cells, Vantage Point Venture Partners, McKinsey & Company, and OYO.

There has been an accelerated shift towards more sustainable buildings and construction techniques in recent times. People now expect every infrastructure to be sustainable right from the design phase. When you think of infrastructure and the sustainability of that infrastructure, there are two parts to consider the supply side and the demand side. Take a building for example; the biggest source of carbon emission is electricity, which is a kind of energy. The electricity generation process is one of the major sources of carbon emission today. A major part of this issue can be successfully addressed by shifting from using fossil fuels like coal, oil & natural gas to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy. A lot of customers today are shifting from using fossil fuels to renewable by doing PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements) to buy solar, wind and many other energy sources. A large part of this is being addressed by the supply side.

Second is on the demand side. If I am consuming 100 units of electricity and reduce this usage to 80 units, then I will be producing less carbon. Also, leveraging latest technologies to help you reduce your energy consumption is another aspect that needs to be focused on. Currently, there are a lot of technologies that are disrupting the energy space, right from reducing the power consumption to optimizing the power as per the customers’ usage patterns. Also, there are a lot of changes we can inculcate in our daily practices to reduce energy consumption.

For example, shifting from normal lights to LED lights, using superior HVAC systems that consume less energy, using refrigerants that are sustainable, and using HFOs instead of HFCs are some of the major practices that can be incorporated on the demand side to reduce carbon emissions and simultaneously changing the source of energy from being fossil-based to a renewable source on the supply side. Once these two are solved, it is safe to say that most of the problem is taken care of. Later, we can move to scope-3, which is making sure that the entire circularity of anything that is being produced is completely biodegradable.

Ecofriendly Building Designs
One of the biggest challenges in sustainable buildings is reducing energy consumption. Embedding sustainable solutions and technology at the time of design is one of the most effective steps one can take in order to ensure the sustainability of a building. Also, switch from using regular material & technology to a more sustainable material & technology. For example, using ecofriendly bricks, using an HVAC system that has a sustainable coolant/ refrigerant and deploying software technologies that help you run the building more efficiently. Additionally, there has been a lot of focus recently on the reusability factor of materials being used in the construction process. This will be a major milestone in our journey towards a sustainable future.