Green Buildings: The Road Ahead to Sustainability
Have you ever woken up restless, irritated and fatigued even though you had proper rest? If yes, then you have just missed out on a crucial feature while building your ‘dream house’. Ventilation.
That’s right! Poor ventilation leads to a buildup of carbon dioxide inside the house as the level of oxygen slowly depletes. Depletion of oxygen and buildup of carbon dioxide may result in shortness of breath, fatigue, and severe headaches. Pathogens that are transmittable through the air find it easier to spread among the residents in a house with poor air quality. These airborne diseases include meningitis, anthrax, chickenpox, avian influenza, measles, smallpox, tuberculosis, and severe acute respiratory syndromes (SARS). Poor-quality indoor air may also lead to psychological shortcomings such as stress and discomfort. Psychological distress poses a very serious risk to the health of an individual. Irritating odour and stuffiness caused by congestion in the poorly ventilated house cause allergies, hypersensitivity, dizziness, and nausea. This is contributed by the shortness of breath indoors.
Even though most people are aware of these shortcomings of improper ventilation, they tend to disregard them until the short term effects turn into long term ones. At that time, it is long overdue and hence the cycle continues.
This is where green buildings come into focus. Green buildings’ main features include maximum utilization of renewable resources like sunlight, etc. Sunlight in turn kills the bacteria inside homes formed by water vapour and the resulting mould formations. Suitable ways of ventilation employ such resources to improve indoor air quality which leads to higher health and productivity levels.
Even though costs like water and other resource-consuming services are quantifiable, it is not the same in every case. The health of the residents is not quantifiable, BUT we can arrive at a number based on the number of doctor’s appointments, cost of medications and so on. Sustainable techniques of insulated roofing sheets and thermal insulation have been proved to increase the health levels of the occupants and thereby reduce these indirect costs.
With products ranging from heat reflective tiles and non-VOC( Volatile organic compounds paints to roof coating and insulation solutions, sustainable alternatives are becoming easily accessible and affordable! Paints contain VOCs) which get emitted into the air as the paint dries. These air solvents are known to cause acute symptoms including headaches and dizziness. Ventilation fans that feature mechanical ventilation in which fans or blowers are used for preferable and adjustable levels of circulation of air are also available.
As citizens, we should also consider transitioning to solar-powered panels as this significantly cuts down on costs and we will be relying on an inexhaustible source of energy, the sun. Those seeking to go green may want to consider equipping their home with solar panels as solar power is not only good for the environment, but you can earn money selling back excess power to the grid.
Along with the generation of electricity, solar power can meet several other purposes such as heating water and running electric generators. Though the deficiency of power in India is decreasing rapidly, still there are many people both in the rural and urban areas, who have improper and unreliable access to electricity. These people are forced to rely on alternatives like diesel generators. These pose a harmful effect on health and they are volatile in terms of their operating costs. In such a scenario, solar energy serves as an affordable source of electricity. Since rooftop solar panels harness the power of the sun to generate electricity, they are eco-friendly. Furthermore, their cost of operation is also stable.
Rooftop solar panels utilize sunlight to convert it into electricity. India is situated at an ideal subtropical level and receives ample sunlight to be harnessed and converted into usable energy. Incentives from the government include tax credits to those who install rooftop solar panels whether it be for residential or commercial purposes Do consider checking them out and switching to greener options if you are considering to be a part of the efforts being taken to amalgamate sustainability and economic growth. Time to go green, go clean!
-B Aishwarya Lalitha
S.Y.B.Sc ( Economics)