Ashish Rakheja on sustainable design in India

Ashish Rakheja, Regional MD at AECOM India spoke about integration of traditional methods and new technology in construction.

15 February 2017

Expert Talk
Mr. Ashish Rakheja spoke about the need to integrate traditional Indian methods of construction with new technology for sustainable construction that is best suited to our needs.
“Man isn’t the only inhabitant of this earth, and his exploits mustn’t endanger the survival of the entire planet.” 

As part of the leadership series conducted by School of Real Estate, Ashish Rakheja, Managing Director at AECOM India and a consulting engineer in sustainability,  delivered a lecture titled “Building a Sustainable India: Mixing Tradition with Technology to achieve High Performance Buildings”.

He started by presenting a few key facts: there is currently 25 billion sq. ft. built space in India, and the projected figure is 75 billion sq. ft. in the next 20-30 years. The Smart Cities initiative, with its proposals for newer industrial corridors and creations of new cities, is going to become one of the key drivers of this projected growth.

In the current day and age in India, due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, we are forgetting our traditional climate responsive architectural practices and design elements, and resorting to aping the west and designing huge glass boxes that are completely unsuitable to our environment. He spoke of climate change as a stark consequence of our irreverent resource exploitation, and the need to battle it through sustainable design practices. He suggested various BIM techniques that may be used in the design phase such as computation flow dynamics, sun path and shading analysis for structural orientation, ventilation design, and glazing and daylight optimisation.

He also suggested various design elements that may be used to reduce the energy usage of a building such as solar cells, air tunnels, optimised openings, etc. used successfully by his firm in various projects, such as the retrofitting of the ceremonial hall at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, MoEF Headquarters at Jor Bagh, EcoCommercial at Noida, Shunya: zero energy homes and his own residences. He stated that the current green built space is 4.3 billion sq. ft., which may seem like a lot, but is only about 20% of the current built space, which is why he stressed upon the need to adopt sustainable design practices to bridge the gap at the design inception stage itself to add value to the project, not merely as an add-on to attain some form of green rating. 

“The future of sustainability lies in developing modern technology such as hydroponics in the form of vertical farms and sky gardens, climate-responsive façades, building automation and bio-mimicry.”

He also stated that the future of sustainability lies in developing modern technology such as hydroponics in the form of vertical farms and sky gardens, climate-responsive façades, building automation and bio-mimicry. Lastly, he stressed upon the need for man to become less selfish and be concerned about the earth he lives in and its sustainable development, because he isn’t the only inhabitant of this earth, and his exploits mustn’t endanger the survival of the entire planet.

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