Environmental Architecture And Interior Designing
Today, our choices and actions influence the environment in more ways than ever before – what we eat, how we commute, what we wear, what we buy, what we consume, and even the kind of buildings we erect and live in. Fifteen per cent of our greenhouse gases are caused by inefficient building and architecture. In the U.S., buildings produce almost 50 per cent of the carbon emissions and consume about 76 per cent of the electricity produced.
But there are a whole range of options available. Environmentally-conscious, green architects, as the name suggests, seek to negate the harmful impact of construction by building economical, energy-saving, environmentally-friendly and sustainable structures. Green architecture uses innovative design, alternative/renewable building materials (cement concrete, laterite, compressed bamboo roots, etc.) and infuses nature’s advantages (light and solar energy) into man-made construction. Buildings are powered by solar electricity, have water harvesting and recycling systems in place and are designed to optimise natural weather conditions. Green interior designers work in tandem with these architects and suggest energy-saving alternatives such as CFL bulbs and computer-sensor controlled energy saving devices including automatic dimmers for lights and occupancy sensors to adjust air-conditioning automatically. They use wood generated from regulated forest land and capitalise on the benefits of structural details such as high roofs and large windows to ensure adequate ventilation.
Although this field is still to be fully explored in India, environmental architects are being increasingly sought out as there is greater awareness about the need for environmental legislation in housing. A new rating system for homes has been initiated by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). The body lists various parameters to be met before granting a ‘green certificate’ to a home or residential complex. More builders are looking at reducing their carbon footprint through green ratings like LEED, Eco Housing amongst others.
The University of Pune offers a post-graduate, full-time Masters programme (M.Arch) in Environmental Architecture, which is available at the Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture in Pune. Unfortunately, this course is currently open only to women students. One could also apply to the Institute of Environmental Architecture, the post-graduate department of the Rachana Sansad’s Academy of Architecture, Mumbai (http://www.freewebs.com/iea/) and the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies which offers a Masters in Architecture in Urban Design (http://krvia.ac.in/Krvia/masters.php).
Internationally, there are many good courses in sustainable architecture including the programmes offered at the Universities of Berkeley, Berkeley Institute of Ecological Design, University of Oregon (Eugene), UCLA, Georgia Tech and the San Francisco Institute of Architecture.
With inputs from:
Anagha Paranjape, Lecturer, Dr. B. N. College of Architecture (
and Vikram Sami, LEED AP, Georgia Tech (