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Asian architecture is moving on Green path

The green building movement is picking up its pace in Asia and in the last twelve years it has made some rapid strides. While conservationists say it is the only way to survive and save Mother Planet, smart ones use it as a marketing tool to promote their products and services. Either way the end result is that the awareness being created and fortunately in recent times many are convinced that unless you go green there is no way you can survive. Thus, the prevailing trend points towards increasing involvement in sustainable building project and there are no signs of this abating.

The degree of awareness and involvement in green building movement in Asia varies from country to country. Countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, India and China are leading the way and their participation is anywhere between 40% and 80%. Fortunately, this ratio is increasing and the movement is spreading in other countries also.  Client demands and environment regulations which are becoming more and more stringent day by day are the main drivers forcing people to go in for green buildings.

However, the movement is not having a smooth sailing all over and there are challenges and hurdles. In fact, the movement has not yet reached the masses but has only touched the top end and strong political backing is the need of the hour to take this movement to the masses. Increased cost of certification and increased regulatory requirements which delay the approval process are the main deterrents which drive away those sitting on the fence of green movement.  Lack of trained and skilled professionals and fear of adding on to the cost also act as hindrances to the growth of green movement.

However, many are convinced about the benefits of going green too. One of the greatest benefits of green concepts is the enhanced marketability and higher building values. Rain water harvesting, water recycling, solid waste management, more energy efficient HVAC systems like radiant cooling, renewable energy generation – all have become catchy marketing tools. Another major driving force behind the commercial adoption of green building practices is the substantial reduction in operating cost.

Interestingly, some people view the concept of green movement in architecture and building from a different angle. Often, in the world of architecture the words “modern” and “traditional” are considered as fundamentally opposite to each other. However, if one closely looks at vernacular architecture of Asia, this argument doesn’t hold much water. In fact, vernacular architecture of Asia provides instructive examples of sustainable solutions to building problems. Though many consider innovative building technology as the hallmark of modern architecture there are many practices in Asian vernacular architecture which go a long way to improve energy efficiency and contribute to sustainability and prove wrong the general notion that the traditional architecture is inept or technologically crude.

Perhaps one of the most invaluable contribution of Asian vernacular architecture to the world of construction is bamboo as a building material. Bamboo is widely used in Asia for roofing, flooring, walls, columns and pillars. It is also used as a replacement for steel scaffolding during construction and repair and maintenance of building. Bamboo is abundantly available and is sustainable and is extremely resilient. Therefore, bamboo has potential in the future to become an ideal replacement for steel, especially in places where steel cannot easily be produced. Due to its incredibly rapid growth cycle and the variety of areas in which it is able to grow, bamboo is also extremely cheap. Its lightweight structure also makes it easy to harvest and transport. In few years from now bamboo can become an indispensable part of construction all over the world. That’s not an insignificant contribution of Asian vernacular architecture!

It should be remembered that Asia has the largest share of the world’s population which in turn has also resulted in high densities in urban areas. Due to growing population and also resultant urbanisation process, building activity will remain energetic and hectic. In the process it can produce valuable empirical knowledge and lessons to architects, interior designers and civil engineers all over the world.

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