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Property Plus — Chennai

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How green is your housing complex

ECO-FRIENDLY HOMES are the order of the day. They are socially correct, save money and are aesthetically pleasing too.

Laurie Baker spawned a whole tradition of green architecture, which keep houses cool in summer, warm in winter, recycle water, and harness sunlight.

Green architecture cuts overall construction costs by about 25 per cent, while ensuring substantial savings on maintenance expenses.

Most eco-friendly constructions also save valuable time. For instance, casting a conventional RCC roof takes a long time, whereas the brick arch panel roof in eco-friendly patterns is built simultaneously with the walls (while using minimal cement and concrete). To know more about such practices, visit www.cbri.org

Using fly-ash in such constructions not only makes ecological sense but also saves cost.

Other techniques include using arched roofs juxtaposed with skylights to allow entry of natural sunlight, which eliminates the need of artificial lighting during the day.

Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting that maximises rainwater use is a standard feature of green homes, wherein a 5,000 sq. ft. roof can collect and save at least 7,50,000 litres of water annually.

Trees are the most essential features for the environmental health of a housing complex as well as our planet as a whole. They absorb several toxic air pollutants and ensure the required oxygen level.

Hence, each of us should plant at least one tree, and for every tree being cut we must plant at least ten.

Early monsoon is the right time to plant trees. Normal soil, with leaf mould added to it, is the most suitable.

Two sides of the interior roads in a housing complex and interior spaces along its boundary walls are the best places to plant trees (but not next to street lights, wires and cables, junction boxes and water pipes).

The right kind of trees to plant are broad-leafed ones (kadam, badam, etc) or compact (bakul, chhatim, etc) on heavy thoroughfares; flowing ones (gulmohar, jarul, cassia fistula, etc) are more suited to lanes.

To save our forests and ecology, one must only use wood substitutes made from agricultural/jute/plastic wastes such as Eco-Wud etc, wherever possible.

Burning of leaves is harmful and violates the Smoke Nuisance Act. Set up composting areas in your housing complex and persuade residents to use them.

Burning leaf litter also increases the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) load. Civic employees routinely do this, especially during the cooler months.

Using smoke-creating coal and burning of rubber/tyres is also forbidden. Ask them not to. If they persist, report to Pollution Control Board/Municipal Borough office.

Noise pollution

High decibel level noise affects the hearing of adults, and causes stress, propagating several stress-related diseases. Noise also lowers the attention span.

Children growing up in noisy environments have learning disabilities. We must sincerely work towards reducing noise. Using high dB noise, particularly after 10 pm, is also forbidden under law.

Climate change

Environmental problems are of both national and global concern. They range from deforestation, ozone depletion, climate change, biodiversity protection, fate of Antarctica, environmental health of oceans and the riverbed etc.

The `greenhouse effect' is inducing climate change, threatening island economies and low-lying countries such as Maldives and Bangladesh, with possibility of rise in sea level.

Climate change can also jeopardise agricultural production in developing countries.

The Russian Federation and parts of Africa could see dramatic reduction in their crop yields by 2050 AD.

The overall impact of doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would reduce the gross domestic product (GDP) of developing countries like India, by an estimated 2 to 9 per cent, compared with 1 to 1.5 per cent of GDP in industrial economies; it could also create havoc with national health and mortality rates.

(By Pradip K. Chopra)

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