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Environmental design

Green doesn't take a lot of gold


It was a hot Delhi summer day when even the outdoors felt like an airless box. But just one step into Manit and Sonali Rastogi's home in tony Panchsheel Park and the temperature dropped from a sweltering 40 degrees to a pleasant thirty. This, even without the air-conditioning that most Delhi residents can't survive a minute without.

The large glass fronts of the Rastogi home may not look very environmentally sustainable to most, but are actually designed to let in light but not heat. Even the basement, which houses the architect duo's large office, is semi-lit with natural sunshine that Delhi has plenty of. Intelligent environmental design has ensured that the planning, orientation, structure and materials used in the construction are energy efficient and suitable to the hot and arid Delhi climate.

Sonali Rastogi, who runs Morphogenesis, an architectural design firm, with her husband, says that the point of making green or sustainable homes is to make less from more. And it all starts with the basic sense of orientation of a house. The western walls, for instance, are thick and solid, thereby not letting the oppressive summer heat in but the eastern wall is mostly specially laminated glass that keeps the harmful UV rays out. "What we really need to work with is topography and minimise concretisation as far as possible, " says Sonali, who believes, unlike most green crusaders, that solar panels are unnecessary in modern sustainable homes. "A solar panel is not like a rice cooker that you plug in and it works. We try to avoid addition of new technology to keep costs down, " she says.

So the house does not have solar panels or wind turbines. But it has earth damping for the basement studios, landscape buffers on the south, and high performance surfaces on the east, sloped roofs and a large cavity on the barrel roof that helps with heat absorption.

Both inside and outside, the house is built around green sinks - the house is centred around an atrium which doubles up as an indoor garden with massice skylights. The house was designed in a way so that original trees on the plot were maintained and not cut down.

"The question is why would anyone not be interested in a sustainable home? Sure, it might cost five to ten per cent more but it also gives you the benefit of savings for a lifetime. Also 'green' aspects are better appreciated today. For instance, if I mention a cavity wall or a sewage treatment plant to a client, I am not greeted with a blank stare, " says Sonali.


Curved roof for less heat absoprtion High performance laminated glass Strategic skylights.

Reader's opinion (2)

Rajesh NairAug 6th, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Even if half the population follows eco friendly living....planet would be a better place to live!
Kudos to Rastogi's

Manoj Kumar SinghAug 4th, 2012 at 18:38 PM

echnolgy nees to be made mandatory

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