by JASON on JANUARY 13, 2012
A large part of the trip consists of observing the philosophies of green building. Jayakumar gave a lecture on the green construction tactics performed by COSTFORD a few days ago, and the strategies – though obvious in conceptualization, still face great opposition in Kerala.
Some of the strategies brought up by Jayakumar and COSTFORD include the use of local materials. And by local, I mean as close to the site as possible. The transportation and off-site processing of materials adds to the cost and carbon footprint of construction, so COSTFORD finds as many ways to source locally as possible: using bamboo or coconut trees grown locally for foundations and structures, digging a pit by the project to treat the wood on-site, use dug up dirt as mud, mixed with lime, for building and sealing, buying and supporting locally.
Shailaja Madam giving us a presentation on her and Sajan’s home under construction.
Wood treatment right next to the site
Bio-dome to turn waste into methane gas for cooking.
Building the 4th floor tower, because the shade on the southwest end will cool the home, and just because they can buid a tower. Note the bamboo scaffold and the bamboo and coconut tree reinforcement of pillars and roofs.
Reuse is also point for COSTFORD. In Shalija and Sajan’s house, a power couple in COSTFORD, they use discarded old window frames as their windows – perfectly fine wood thrown out prior. They also plan on assembling discarded wood to treat and build wooden floors for the house they are building. If possible, when COSTFORD builds, they try and reuse the bricks as much as possible. Reuse saves with reduction in costs, energy of production, and reduction in solid waste.
The design aspect is also interesting. The compressed thin brick walls allow it to hold more weight. Bricks are laid out differently to create thicker walls with the same amount of bricks. Arched windows and doorways remove the need for cement. Wood pivot window shades take the need for built hinges, and window shades are built only if needed or necessary. Building less is building better. Ventilation and strategic use of shadows to the orientation of the sun throughout the day all aid in the reduction of building unnecessarily, and working with instead of against the elements in green building.
It is unfortunate that some of these ideas aren’t catching up. A big issue is the idea of status. Without a cement roof, which is not sustainable, people would not place the reverence of the quality of a COSTFORD building the same as another with a cement roof. The use of local and affordable materials has a connotation of lower quality or poverty materials, even though local material use is smart building practices. Part of the shift in green building will be cultural, and understanding that green building is good building.
They get breathtaking views of the sunset, daily.
The United States has pioneered green building as well, and green materials may be found in other countries and climates as well. Straw bale houses use local sources for its construction and is highly effective on keeping the elements out. Green building is applicable in may places, and is here to stay. It’s only a matter of time – through desire or necessity, that we all embrace and practice it.