Page E1.2 . 22 September 2004                     
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    LEEDing Green in India

    continued

    The building of 20,000 square feet (1900 square meters) consists of exhibition spaces, seminar halls, offices, meeting rooms, and a cafeteria. The circulation scheme encourages interaction. The introverted courtyard inside, yet outside is a traditional gathering place for intellectual encounters and cultural functions. It is also ideally suited for light and climate control in hot regions. All enclosed spaces are coupled with smaller open courts encircling this larger courtyard.

    Energy Efficiency

    Arguably, the most impressive feature of the CII-Godrej GBC building is its energy efficiency. The building boasts of lighting energy savings of 88 percent compared to an electrically lit building of the same size. Grover's strategy entailed both energy-efficient lighting systems and extensive reliance on daylight.

    The courtyards act as "light wells," illuminating adjacent work areas. When this light is not sufficient, sensors trigger the deployment of efficient electric lights. Dimmers automatically control the illumination levels, turning the lights off when they're unnecessary. Also, occupancy sensors prevent a light from being switched on at an unoccupied workstation.

    The building layout ensures that 90 percent of the spaces have daylight access and views to the outside. In some areas, jalis, or lattice walls, are used to prevent glare and heat gain while ensuring adequate daylighting and views. The jali, used in many historic buildings such as the Taj Mahal, gives definition and an aesthetic appeal to a space.

    A more contemporary strategy for energy efficiency is the use of solar photovoltaic cells. A rooftop grid provides about 24 kilowatts, or about 16 percent of the building's electricity needs.

    More savings are achieved by the facility's two wind towers. These are traditional architectural elements that "catch" air and cool it as it passes down the tower. In earlier times, the cooler air would then enter the living areas. In this case, the air, now cooled by up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Centigrade), is supplied to the air handling units (AHUs), substantially reducing the load on the air conditioning system. A heavily insulated roof further reduces the cooling load.

    Sensitivity to Context

    Part of the "green" task was to minimize damage during construction and occupancy to the natural elements of water flow, air quality, vegetation, and topography. The built form responds to the rocky site. The footprint is kept small, and the arrangement of spaces and the varying levels of the plinth were designed to respect the distinctive boulders. "Contour trenching" will prevent erosion and sedimentation.

    During construction, barricades were installed to prevent contaminants from spreading to surrounding areas. Vegetation that was lost to the built area was replaced by gardens on 55 percent of the roof area. The architect ensured that some rainwater would go into the soil by specifying permeable grid pavers.

    The remaining rainwater follows existing flow patterns and is collected in a water pond, another traditional method, constructed at a lower end of the site. All wastewater generated by the building is recycled by "root zone treatment" a type of purification technique that uses specially selected plants and weeds as filters. This method simultaneously irrigates the vegetation.

    The treated water is directed to the pond and is used for domestic purposes. In addition, the building achieves a 35 percent reduction of municipally supplied potable water, in part through the use of low-flush toilets and waterless urinals.

    To achieve the LEED rating, it was necessary to encourage building occupants to minimize their reliance on fossil fuel-based transportation. So the building was located near a public transport station. Bicycle riders are treated preferentially with facilities like convenient parking, lockers, and showers. Thirty percent of users have shifted to alternative modes of transportation: carpools, bicycles, and cars that run on liquefied petroleum gas, a low-polluting alternative to conventional gasoline and diesel.

    Additionally, the center has bought a locally made, electricity-driven car called REWA in the hope that employees will buy such alternative-energy-powered cars in the future. The documented reduction of harmful emissions achieved by the design, siting, and construction of the building is 62 percent for carbon monoxide, and 63 percent for hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

    Sustainable Materials

    A large amount of energy and pollution was also reduced through choices in the production and transportation of building materials. Sixty-six percent (by cost) of the material was sourced within a radius of 500 miles. Of this, 95 percent of the raw material was extracted or harvested locally.

    An impressive 77 percent of the building materials use recycled content in the form of fly ash, broken glass, broken tiles, recycled paper, recycled aluminum, cinder from industrial furnaces, bagasse (an agricultural waste from sugar cane), mineral fibers, cellulose fibers, and quarry dust. All of the new wood was sustainably harvested, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

    The building reuses a significant amount of material salvaged from other construction sites like toilet doors, interlocking pavement blocks, stone slabs, scrap steel, scrap glazed tiles, shuttering material and, interestingly, the furniture in the cafeteria. A waste management plan ensured that 96 percent of construction waste was recycled.

    Aesthetics and Energy

    In CII-Godrej GBC, Grover has dispelled any notion that aesthetics must be sacrificed in the effort to make buildings "green." By tapping the rich architectural heritage of India, he has executed several highly efficient sustainable design methods that are also high in cultural value.

    Grover observes: "On looking at these elements, it is inevitable that a viewer's train of thought goes from the external form and elements to the reason of their existence." That is, the building displays the "aesthetics of energy."

    CII-Godrej GBC also demonstrates that traditional knowledge is valid today and can be used in conjunction with modern architecture to achieve unprecedented levels of sustainable design. The building, which earned the very high LEED rating of 56 credits, urges us not turn our back to history in our quest for modernity.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    Raj Jadhav is an architect, author, researcher and educator, currently living in Mumbai, India. For his theoretical exploration of contemporary Indian identity, he received a national award for outstanding research presented by The Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects and another award from Kansas State University.

    To qualify for the LEED rating, the building's performance was evaluated by American standards. While globalization has spread relatively wasteful Western construction practices throughout the world, it's likely that typical contemporary Indian architecture is generally less energy intensive. Therefore, the CII-Godrej GBC has begun formulating its own standards for energy savings in India.

     
    Project Credits

    Architects Karan Grover & Associates, Baroda, India
    Energy Consultants: Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi, India
    Structural Consultants: Comten Engineers, Baroda
    Services: Spectral Consultants, New Delhi
    Landscape: Arati Chari & Associates, Chennai, India
    Commissioning Agents: C. R. Narayanrao & Associates, Chennai
    Civil Works: Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited, Hyderabad, India

    AW

    ArchWeek Image

    A large central courtyard is key to the sustainability success of the Confederation of Indian Industry Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Center, designed by Indian architect Karan Grover.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

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    Cool, north light washes the interior spaces.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

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    Undisturbed natural site features and photovoltaic arrays characterize the CII-Godrej GBC.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    Ground floor plan.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

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    Section through the CII-Godrej GBC.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    Operation of the wind towers.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

    ArchWeek Image

    A traditional jali, or lattice wall.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

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    Recycled broken tile applied to new construction.
    Photo: Karan Grover & Associates

     

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