Green building fad has just hit the world. Majority of new buildings are being conceived with green concepts now. It is very simple and easy to plan a green building when you are conceiving it but immense potential exists waiting to be tapped in case of old buildings. It is very clear that you can not bring about comprehensive changes in to the existing buildings but you can certainly tweak around a little wee bit to get appreciable savings. Let me first explain as what makes a building green. Is living green just a fad or it is some thing more than that.
A green building is expected to
- Use maximum natural resources like air, sun, natural light, waste heat, atmospheric heat.
- Minimize on the wastage like water, effluents, heat, solids from the building.
- Use gadgets which economize on energy efficiency.
Whole world has awoken to the concept of green buildings. But, in case of existing buildings, very little is being done. Some of the existing buildings have been so designed that they practically guzzle up lots of fuel and electricity with scant attention being paid to avoid any wastage. But its common senses that every building on this planet can contribute its bit towards conservation of depleting natural resources. The list below is an indicative one and is not exhaustive.
Existing buildings which are being considered for conversion to green can be divided in to two groups, one with minor changes and the other with major changes.
- Saving water: Call your plumber or check for yourself all the taps and pipes for leakages. A single leaking tap can per day waste enough water which can meet the complete daily requirement of at least two – three persons.
- Check all your flushing cisterns. Be sure that no leakages are taking place. Replace valves if need be.
- Carryout water audit of your building. In case you are not sure please call experts who will be able to provide you with deeper insights.
- Separate out the waste water from toilets and the other from bathrooms and kitchen.While waste water from toilets can be used only after treatment but the discharge from bathrooms, Reverse Osmosis plant and kitchen can be used for gardening, car washing etc after little bit of filtration.
- Saving power: Install capacitors to improve power factor. If you are not sure then seek advice from experts. Replace all incandescent lamps with energy efficient Compact Florescent Lamps.
- If found appropriate, go for task based lighting instead of general lighting to conserve power.
- Lighting for common areas and compounds should be timer controlled.
- Intelligently program your lifts to optimize and conserve electricity.
- Install proximity switches for board and conference rooms. These switches sense the human presence and if area is not inhabited for considerable period of time, the power simply goes off.
- Major changes may relate to placing solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems. Solar thermal for heating purposes and photovoltaic systems for trapping solar energy in to storage batteries. Solar panels which generate electricity comes in various ratings of 6, 10, 12, 37, 70,100,160 and even higher watts. These can be combined in parallel to have much larger banks which can provide many kilowatts of electricity. The power so generated can be fed in to the grids or can be stored in battery for future use.
- Solar collectors which form part of solar thermal systems can be used in preheating and heating of the water. These come in various sizes based on capacity of water they are expected to handle.
- Building integrated photovoltaic systems can be installed on many of the existing buildings. However a detailed study of the building is necessary to ascertain whether the installed solar panels will get proper orientation so that they always face towards the sun.
There are many suggestions which can come out after one goes for energy, safety and water audit. Continue to look out for this space.