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Gul: Wants to be alone

India is one of the world’s most off-grid countries – mainly because so many of its inhabitants were never on the grid in the first place.  As hundreds of millions struggle to get connected, Bollywood actress Gul Panag will throw open the doors of her weekend home, one of the first in India to be built to eco standards.

Indians say it’s a leg up for the green home movement, and in that upwardly mobile culture, want to move away from just the symbolic rain-water-harvesting-and-solar- panel installation design to an expensively laid out vision, capped by a system of evaluation, rating and certification. Panag’s home is awaiting a rating from local body, GRIHA.

To avoid criticism for knocking down a century old building to make ay for her new home, Gul spent a fortune on recycling the old materials – recycled her money as well – into the pocket of architect, Mallika Desai Thakker

He says the house will generate its own power through solar panels. Double glazed windows, and an all-round ventilation mechanism will eliminate the need for air-conditioners. Rainwater harvesting will provide it a supply of close to 1 lakh litres of water a year.

Some benefits of going green are reduced energy consumption, better light and indoor air quality. Construction costs are typically 5 to 10 per cent higher than for a regular building, but in the long run it’s more economical. Builders need to play up the certification of green buildings like they would Italian marble or jacuzzis.

3 Simple tips for your green home:

Use Autoclaved Aerated Concrete instead of bricks. Its improved thermal efficiency reduces heating and cooling load in homes. It’s light, reduces cost and energy in transportation.

Use double wall glass in windows so as to reduce direct heat gain and glare while maximising the sunlight entering your rooms.

Paint your exteriors and room walls with ecofriendly non-toxic paints that don’t use petrochemicals involved in the creation of traditional paints that can pollute the atmosphere through toxic fumes when discarded irresponsibly.

Fast facts

A green building is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient through its lifecycle: from design, construction, operation to maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

You can bring in ‘green elements’ into any building design, but the formal term ‘green building’ is used typically for one that has been certified through a rating system such as LEED or GRIHA. Ratings are based on points on a 1-100 scale across major categories such as energy, water efficiency, materials.

US-based LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the dominant global rating system, also popular in India. GRIHA is the Indian equivalent of LEED. It uses a star rating (five stars equivalent to LEED’s platinum rating).

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