03 February 2017

Guest lecture
Dr. P C Jain FRICS Chairman, Indian Green Buildings Council (IGBC) & Chairman, AECOM India, delivered an inspiring talk, while inaugurating the IGBC student chapter at RICS School of Built Environment.

“It is critical for us to construct green buildings that consume less energy so that the earth can sustain life in a beautiful manner,” said Dr. PC Jain, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) and AECOM, addressing the students of RICS SBE on the campus.He initiated the discussion on a striking note by stating that a million of species have gone extinct since the Industrial Revolution 800 years ago. “Our resources are rapidly depleting and what would be left in the world for our future generations to see is a challenging question. One of the probable solutions to this is green construction,” he further remarked. He gave an insight into the historical examples while illustrating natural methods which can be integrated into the modern day construction technology.

Some of them are as follows: Learn from the ancient wisdom Dr. Jain cited the example of the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple in Benaras and old forts and palaces to illustrate the concept of green buildings. Though they were built thousands of years ago, they still exist. They have survived the onslaught of time, earthquakes, rain and natural disasters. Taj Mahal is a perfect example of a cool, green building without the use of air-conditioning or fans. It is all about the Panchabhutas (five elements of earth, sky, water, air and fire).

He exemplifies this by saying that, “Just as how we optimise the five elements in our body to lead a healthy life, we can optimise these elements in modern buildings to reduce energy consumption and make them environment-friendly.” Our ancestors have shown us that it is scientifically possible to design, construct, operate and maintain a building that is in harmony with nature. We can learn from the design of Taj Mahal and Red Fort to plan the thickness of building walls so that heat never goes into a building and is radiated out. Harnessing the power of the infinite sun is also ancient wisdom. In those days, daylight came from the verandah and the rooftop which made the entire house well-lit with no need for any artificial light. And as years have passed by, this knowledge is lost somewhere in the much desirable quest for ‘comfort at any cost’. Thankfully, there is a revival today in the form of green buildings that make the best use of the elements of nature and ensure the sustenance of life.

  • Sky

In modern cities such as Dubai and Singapore, the night sky is bright because of which there are no birds. Fortunately, in India, there is no such issue as the night sky is still dark — the way it is supposed to be. When a building is constructed, life in the surroundings must be kept in mind and it has to be made sure that the night sky in the area is not full of light.

  • Water

A green building has facilities for rainwater harvesting and does not let even a drop go out. Every single drop, whether you are bathing, cooking or washing, gets stored and is recycled. It also comprises of a dual flush and water-saving nozzles for faucets to reduce water consumption drastically while flushing and washing. The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) is working to make these things available in India at affordable prices, he stated.

  • Sun and wind

In the 1970s, you needed 30 KW of energy per square foot in order to construct a building. This is considered as a big wastage of energy as today, you only need 4 KW per square foot. With the concept of net-zero buildings, a building can generate enough energy to meet the need of consumers. All that needs to be done is optimising the energy usage and then generate it from the sun, wind, tide or biomass.

  • Earth

Green buildings reuse materials, which have been recycled multiple times. The first policy is to use minimum resources and then use recycled materials such as bamboo, rise husk, bagar, sugarcane and compressed wood. Following are a couple of methods for using natural resources- Not extracting raw material from the earth and instead construct a building and then dump the waste in an eco-friendly manner. While making the use of wood, see that it’s not fresh wood coming directly from a forest.

  • You

You are the fifth element in this. The green building is made for you — the human being. It must provide all facilities which lead to a healthy and productive life for occupants with fresh air and adequate sunlight in the midst of greenery. While giving a reference to a particular study he said that there was a 14 percent increase in productivity and output of the KPO/BPO industry when employees moved to a green building. Furthermore, there was a 14 percent drop in sick leave and absenteeism. But unfortunately, human beings only think about what is being consumed today and never worry about tomorrow. We cannot afford to stay this way. Our challenge is to ensure that life is preserved on earth and we don’t lose any more species. So, you matter and the people who come after you also matter. As a concluding statement, he said that “This is the only one planet to live on. We don’t have a choice. We have to make it greener and healthier, for this generation and the future generations. Nature is our greatest teacher. Don’t destroy or disorient it.”

Dr. P. C. Jain, Chairman, IGBC, is well-known for decades of service in the field of environment research and study, which earned him a reputation as a green visionary. He has a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a doctorate in mechanical engineering. Upon returning to India in 1970 after postgraduate studies in the US, he served as a visiting professor at IIT Kanpur, where he taught postgraduate students and set up a lab for environmental engineering. He has also been a visiting faculty member at the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi University since 1973. In addition to this, he is also a business entrepreneur. He founded Spectro Services Consultants in 1980 to provide energy-efficient, fire-safe, fully coordinated MEP services and design for all varieties of client buildings in India.