By 2050, India is expected to be the most populated country with an expected population of about 1.69 billion! It is estimated that by that time over 70 million new urban housing units will be needed for everyone to live peacefully. This extraordinary urbanization will result in economic, social and ecological instability. So to make a balance between urbanization and environment we need to create green infrastructure and increase our knowledge on sustainable housing, green cities and sustainable architecture. Let us know about it in detail in this article.

What is Sustainable Housing?

Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of today without compromising the needs of future generation. Sustainable housing has the prospective to produce good quality housing which keeps long term as well as short term environmental goals in mind. Thus, sustainable housing must aim at economic, social and environmental sustainability at all the phases and at the same time result in housing that is affordable, accessible and ecologically less damaging. The policies of sustainable housing i.e. social sustainability, environmental sustainability and economic sustainability have the following elements:

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Social Sustainability: Safety, Security and Universal Design

Environmental Sustainability: Water efficiency, Waste efficiency, Energy efficiency

Economic Sustainability: Cost-efficiency, Better quality material, Higher resale value

Guide to Sustainable Housing
Guide to Sustainable Housing

Why is Sustainable Housing important?

Valuable natural resources are reducing in a good quantity every year. It has become pretty clear that the current scenario should be changed now or we are likely to face difficulties in the next few decades. Even the Buildings have a huge impact on the environment right from their construction, maintenance and all the way up to their demolition as these Buildings consume a lot of resources. These buildings having a really long life span, their construction can be done in such a way that the material used to build them doesn’t require replacement for a very long time. Buildings can even be designed with a number of innovations such as using recycled material for construction, installing a sewage treatment plant, energy generation plants etc. which will have a great impact on the environment and will slow down the rate by which resources are getting extinct.

Best practices for sustainable architecture

Now that we know what sustainable housing is, we are ready to move towards sustainable architecture. Sustainable architecture is the architecture practice which reduces the negative effects of buildings and housing on the environment by reducing the use of material, energy and other natural resources. Here we have mentioned few best practices that can be followed for sustainable architecture.

1. Ventilation & Temperature regulation

Many people nowadays rely on ACs and Convectors to regulate their home temperature. But hardly do they know that there are other cheaper and better options to maintain this temperature. Sustainable architecture provides ways to design a house in such a way that the ventilation system and materials used for their construction come up together to maintain the inside temperature. You can refer our detailed guide on natural ventilation in apartments. You can also refer some of the eco-friendly apartments that have good ventilation architecture. Using specific materials for the construction of buildings can help in maintaining the inner temperature. Understanding the thermal properties of different materials and the way of using them can make a lot of difference.

Ventilation and temperature regulation
Ventilation and temperature regulation

Many manufacturers these days are providing different types of coatings and materials which can be applied on the floor, ceiling and the roof. These coatings help in temperature regulation of the building and keep the rooms warm in cold atmosphere and cool them when the temperature outside is more. These coatings are used on a large scale for penthouses that face extreme temperatures being on the top floor.

These practices if followed properly can reduce the resources wasted on ACs and Convectors. The reduced electricity bill from these appliances can help you get some extra pizzas!

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2. Greenery

This topic may sound too mainstream but is the most important aspect to leave an eco-footprint on the environment. Maintaining a good green ratio around the building is the best practice anyone can follow for sustainable housing. Even the Government of Uttar Pradesh promotes this practice by giving 5% extra floor area ratio for free in their state. The government allows 5% extra vertical construction for green buildings made in an area of more than 5000 sqft without any extra tax.

Apart from purifying the surrounding air and reducing air pollution, planting more and more trees around the building will give ample space to the people living there to relax. The oxygen recycle process will be fast. Builders and developers have already started maintaining a good green ratio. There are many projects that are planting NASA certified plants to replenish oxygen levels. In cities like Delhi people rely on air purifiers which are installed in their homes. Maintaining a good green ratio will save the extra money you’ll spend on air purifiers and doing this will further reduce your electricity bill.

Maintain a good green ratio
Maintain a good green ratio

This green space can even be utilized by the children as extra space to play and by the families to relax and spend some time together. Besides keeping the atmosphere healthy and sound, green environment also promotes more flora and fauna and a good life for them too.

3. Water recycling

If you watch news or read articles you would be familiar with the recent situation in Chennai. With almost zero ground water left, Chennai is struggling a lot for drinking water. Would you want Chennai to continue suffer or would you want your city to suffer from the same problem? No right! You really need to start saving ground water to prevent this situation from occurring. Adding to water saving tips you might have learnt in primary school, let’s see what practices we can follow to conserve ground water and fresh water in a housing area.

a. Rain Water Harvesting

Government of India should make it compulsory to install Rain Water Harvesting system in new buildings. Many societies and apartments are already doing it. Most of the new projects now have water harvesting system installed. Independent Villa residents should start following this practice too. This is one of the best practices to conserve rainwater and maintain the ground water level.

b. Optimizing Swimming Pools

Proper measures should be made to optimize pool water usage. Swimming pools use a lot of water because of constant cleaning and refilling needs. And almost every society in cities like Bangalore or Hyderabad nowadays has a swimming pool. Proper measures should be taken in a society to use this water in the best way possible so that it is not wasted.

c. Reusing Household Water

Water needs to be saved and utilized not only at the society and apartment level but in households too. According to a study, 2500 litre of water is used by toilet flushes per year per person. Now calculate the water used by your family according to the number of members. Other household works like laundry, gardening use a lot of water too. So how can we save the water used here? The best way to save it is “Grey Water Treatment”.

Grey water is the domestic wastewater (excluding sewage) which is not chemically overloaded. This water can be treated properly and can be utilized. Grey water can be used for laundry, toilet flushing and watering of plants. Treated grey water can be used for irrigation of food producing as well as non food producing plants due to good nutritional content (nitrogen and phosphorous) in it. The water wasted by water purifiers can also be reused for several purposes.

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4. Sewage Treatment

For thousands of years humans have been creating sewers and connecting them with their homes. But through times sewage treatment plants came into play and started treating black water (sewage water). Most of the societies have a Sewage Treatment Plant installed nowadays which helps in saving a lot of water by treating it and using it for different purposes. These STPs should be installed in every society and apartment built on larger levels. If constructed properly keeping the number of residents in mind, they can help in saving ample amount of water.

But these sewage treatment plants if not constructed properly can trouble you. These plants should be constructed well so that their maintenance doesn’t make a big hole in the pocket of residents and the bad smell they release can be avoided. Sewage Treatment Plants should also be big enough to treat the sewage thrown out by the large number of residents in that society.

5. Energy Generation

a. Biogas

There are a lot of things around us that we waste and can be treated to generate energy. Biogas plants do a good job here. These plants are one of the most productive things that can be installed in a housing area. The fuel generated by these plants in the form of biogas can be used as fuel for cooking and the solid leftover waste can be used as manure for the green area. And all this with the help of just the biodegradable waste! These biogas plants can save a lot of money spent on LPG gas and on nutrients for plants.

Solar powered street light
Solar powered street light

b. Solar Panels/Wind Mills

Many societies have also started using solar panels and wind mills to generate electricity. The lamps and street lights in and around the area can be made solar powered and time controlled. Other appliances like the lamps installed in sports arena and gate lights that are society’s property should also be made solar powered. This is a very good way to save a large amount of electricity which is used in lighting these places.

The above article covers key aspects of sustainable housing which are as per latest architecture trends followed in the real estate industry. Keeping in mind today’s environmental and social conditions, housing societies and apartments really need to adopt sustainable housing. These practices will leave a huge eco-footprint on the environment and save your pockets too! To ensure that the coming generation lives a peaceful and a healthy life we have to start practicing sustainable housing before it’s too late. A one time investment can make a lot of difference towards the society and the mother earth.

Guide to Sustainable Housing: Architecture & Best Practices
Guide to Sustainable Housing: Architecture & Best Practices

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