Ashish Rakheja, MD, AECOM on building a sustainable India

03 February 2017

Guest lecture
A student shares his experience after attending a guest lecture delivered by Ashish Rakheja, MD – AECOM on ‘Building a Sustainable India: Mixing tradition with technology to achieve High Performance Buildings’.

Mr. Ashish Rakheja conducted a lecture on 15th of February, as part of the Leadership Series initiative of SLING. Having worked for almost 25 years as a Consulting Engineer in Sustainability in construction sector, he was here to share his professional experiences with the students and to promote sustainable practices as an amalgamation of traditional Indian methods with modern western technology.


Mr. Rakheja started off 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 growths. Especially in the current day and age in India where due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanization, 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, sunpath analysis and shading analysis for structural orientation, ventilation design, 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, Eco-Commercial at Noida, Shunya: zero energy homes and his own residences.

“The current Green Built Space is estimated at 4.3billion sq.ft, which may seem like a lot, but is only about 20% of the current Built Space in India”

He stated that the current Green Built Space statistic was 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. 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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