Green architecture is a style that has been gaining momentum since the onset of climate change. The drastic effects of climate change have led to a rise in the free thought amongst designers to design spaces that safeguard the environment without compromising on comfort. It is evident that green architecture in Chennai is gaining widespread positive attention since there is an increase in the number of green buildings within the city. Out of 212 structures certified as eco-friendly by IGBC, Chennai tops the list having a maximum of 42 green buildings. We, at Midori Architects, aim to be at the forefront of the green building movement by designing spaces that are aesthetically pleasing as well as environment friendly.
Our approach towards design stems from our understanding of the climate prevalent in a city. During the preliminary design stage, key aspects such as wind and movement of the sun are analysed which in turn has a significant impact on the design. Our motive is to enhance comfort and productivity within a space by taking advantage of the climatic conditions. This becomes possible by shaping our designs in such a way that we harness maximum benefits from the readily available renewable resources, such as the sun and wind.
In a place like Chennai, where the summers are unbearable because of the scorching heat, air conditioning becomes a necessity. Although our issues of comfort are addressed through air conditioning, the negative impact it has on the environment is substantial. An efficient design that makes use of natural ventilation will help in mitigating these effects and provide thermal comfort to the occupants. At Midori architects, we incorporate elements of passive design in our designs to enhance the well being of the occupants.
A courtyard is a fine example of a passive design element. The basic essence and purpose of a courtyard is to provide natural ventilation. It not only acts as an interactive space but also as an effective means to provide indoor thermal comfort. While designing a green building in Chennai, one must be wary of the building materials chosen for the project since it might have the ability to conduct heat. The primary goal would be to reduce direct heat gain on the building envelope. By choosing materials like AAC blocks or flyash bricks, which have low values of thermal conductivity, the building will be insulated from heat to a large extent. Another way of insulating a building is by providing greenery on the building envelope, particularly on the walls and the roof. By adding a protective layer of plants on the walls or the roof, the temperature of a building gets regulated and it ensures that the building remains cool in the summer. Glass used in fenestration is another source of heat gain. While choosing glass for the fenestration, we consider three important factors- U Value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and Visible Light Transmittance (VLT). SHGC is the amount of incident solar radiation admitted through a window and VLT is a measure of how much visible light travels through a window. The chosen glass should have a low U value and SHGC, whereas the VLT should be high if the intention is to curb heat gain.
These are a few things that we consider while designing a green building. An ideal green building would take into account several aspects starting from site selection to incorporating features for water efficiency, energy efficiency and improving the indoor air quality. Green architecture is the way forward if we intend to fight climate change. While it is not mandatory to go the green way, there may come a time when it does become a necessity if we do not take effective measures right away.