Category Archives: sustainable methods

ZED Transcends the Commercial

krishnakumar“If you have to be a leader company, it has to have leaders belonging to it”, said Sumantra Ghosal, the management Guru. In our effort at ZED to make leaders not just managers, the company has launched a soft initiative to secure such mentorship for its core leaders. Coach Krishna Kumar, who is a pioneer in executive coaching, an IIT-Chennai & IIM-A alumnus. He is always taken ‘the other road’ in his work. He began with sports coaching, and is now a globally recognized Master Coach. He is now working this year with three management members at ZED to support them on their leadership journey. Excerpts from an interview with the Coach.

 What do you hope to bring as change for the Zed leaders?

Working in an organization that focuses on creating sustainable living, leadership at Zed requires developing suitable behavioral and strategic mindset to meet this vision. My aim is to groom future leadership at Zed by inculcating this mindset in them. It is such tactical thinking and building of inner confidence that I hope to build in ZED leaders.

What do you see the company representing?

I believe that the founders started with some powerful core values and created a vision for Zed that transcends the commercial, and works towards building a better and safer world for present and future generations. The Company’s ability to deliver with managers making effective decisions is part of the challenge.

Who are the kind of the managers and professionals we need to be recruiting? And, what are the soft skills they need to possess for being part of ZED?

It is imperative that every member on the Zed team should be selected based on commitment and complete belief in the organization’s values and vision. Based on the nature of the business environment that Zed operates in, leaders should have the ability and skills to deal with situations that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (it is a VUCA world!).

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CII jury offers award for best waste management practices across India.

waste--621x414The CII awards for best Waste Management Practices was held in Bangalore last year in late November. BCIL was invited to be a member in the six-member jury panel of distinguished professionals who chose the awards for best management practices that the CII offered in early December to a rostrum of Indian companies for their innovations and commitment to recycle, recover industrial waste. The spectrum of practices across 300 entries.

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BCIL bags more scalps

Zed Awards2013 ended with a harvest of 5 coveted awards for the leadership in Zero Energy Development that BCIL has spearheaded over every project.

Both the realty TV channels in India, CNBC Awaaz and NDTV were compelled to offer their top green award to BCIL. Said Manisha Natarajan, the Chief Anchor at NDTV Profit, “No matter which way the members saw it, the jury just could not turn away from the compelling work that BCIL has done over so many years. 

It was a decision that required hardly any debate among the jury. It’s hard to believe that a builder company actually is as hugely responsible, while having succeeded on the ground to have brought freedom from the grid for water, energy, and waste. I can only wish that there are more such builders. BCIL today is in a very small minority of just one!”

CNBC Awaaz’s Vipin Bhatt said, “It’s humbling for us at CNBC Awaaz to actually know the ZED group that does such distinguished work with a commitment that is rare and distinguished. It’s an honour for us to be offering an award to BCIL for its incredible work. We only wish more customers in the marketplace buy these places and encourage this road toward saner cities.” Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NtC2h6YiL0&feature=youtu.be

The other awards that came BCIL’s way during the year were the ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY PROJECT OF THE YEAR, NORTH BANGALORE. Silicon India in association with LIC Housing Finance Ltd, conferred this honour upon BCIL at the Bangalore Real Estate Awards 2013′.

There was then the Social Responsibility Award at the World CSR Congress Excellence & Leadership Awards at Mumbai in Feb 2013. Later in the year BCIL received ’it second CMO Asia Pacific Award in Singapore.

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BCIL raises Rs 900 million to fuel growth

Rupees-symbolIn a major breakthrough, BCIL has signed a deal closure for Rs 900 million from a large Bombay-based funding institution. The transaction is a combination of funding in the two premium BCIL projects exceeding over 1 million sft between Bangalore and Chennai.

This is the first major fund that the green major has accepted after establishing itself as an undisputed leader in energy-efficient buildings.

ZedEarth in Bangalore is a half- million sft. development that cuts fresh water demand by 70 per cent, uses no borewells and cuts energy demand also by 60 per cent with a combination of demand-side and innovative supply-side solutions.

ZedRia in Chennai offers over 600,000 sft of similar zero energy developed homes with no dependence on external water supply and sewerage board.

Energy and water harvesting and urban agriculture are unique to each of these zero energy developments. Both projects are under way and will offer a total of nearly 1,000 homes over the next 1 to 3 years.

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For gridless power at home or office.

Solar installation at a ZED home

Just the 5 star geysers refrigerators and AC’s in India are saving about 9000 MW of power generation every day. India produces 220,000 MW. Government has cleared 80,000 more MW. And they want to raise this to 700,000 MW. Where’s the coal? India is creating 3 nuclear plants when Germany and Japan have closed all their N plants after 20 years. Coal mines destroy lives, livelihoods, forests and rivers.

Actual end-use power used is a mere 30,000 MW, if local power from solar and wind is not fed to grid but used directly by homes, offices, factories, hotels and hospitals.

The power industry lobby fears loss of the massive business if local power is promoted. Governments don’t want to lose the opportunity big spending offers of making speed money.

A solar station costs no more than 4-10 lakhs at about 2 lakhs to a KW of quality generation. It saves money on Gen-sets and UPS. Diesel power costs Rs. 20 a unit. UPS cost over 2 years with battery replacement Rs. 14 a unit. Solar costs Rs. 13 a unit, with the catch that you’ve to invest, not the government. Your BESCOM tariff is 7 to 14 a unit depending on user category.

What would you want to do?

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Bhaskar Save : “Gandhi of Natural Farming”

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as “Gandhi of Natural Farming”, is a 92 year old man who has redefined the principles of natural farming incorporating Gandhian philosophy into the agricultural practices. He owns a 14 acre orchard farm, with 10 acres covered by a mixed crop of coconut and chikoo (sapota) and a few tree species. Another 2 acres is used for cultivating seasonal field crops in an organically sustainable manner. And the rest 2 acres is a nursery for coconut saplings that grow well in the coastal region of the location.

“Coooperation is the fundamental Law of nature”, reads the sign at Bhaskar Save’s farm, Kalpavruksha, located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

Bhaskar supports the theory that nature is only creator. He says that there are six factors of nature that interact with sunlight and maintain a balance in Nature’s grand symphony. These are air, water and soil along with the three orders of life – vanaspatisrushti (plant kingdom), jeevsrushti (insects and smaller organisms) and pranisrushti (animal kingdom).

Today’s farming practices are more economy centric as opposed to sustainable farming. The pressure on farmers for increase in yield has led them to resort to measures that are unhealthy for the soil and the organisms in them. Excessive uses of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have direct effect on soil organisms and on us when we consume this infected harvest. Later these pollute the water bodies and aquifers.

Save adds,” Trying to increase Nature’s ‘productivity,’ is the fundamental blunder that highlights the arrogant ignorance of agricultural scientists.  Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most abundant in her yield. When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months, where is the need to increase its productivity! What is required at most is to help ensure the necessary natural conditions for optimal, wholesome yield.”

Eight years ago, Save wrote an open letter plea to M.S. Swaminathan, then chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, highlighting the issue of farmer committing suicide across the nation. His letter presented a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policies favoring chemical farming and made a plea for fundamental reorientation.

Bhaskar Save’s farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labor for harvesting) are minimal and external inputs almost zero.

The farm will soon launch an in-house training program at the farm to educate farmers on natural and organic farming practices.

This will change the way we grow our food, the way we enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has to offer in its purest and sweetest form.

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IN THE NAME OF DEVELOPMENT

bangalore-city-viewMany real estate projects have come up on and off Sarjapur Road. The area is touted to be the emerging hub of city’s urbanization. A number of development projects are being carried out under the hood of Sarjapur Gram Panchayats and Bangalore Metropolitan Rural Development Authority (BRDMA).

There’s a deal of ballyhoo from these developers on their ‘mega’ size, all the amenities they offer to lure the gullible home-buyer. The truth is not so beautiful. The authorities are looking the other way.  Quietly there’s damage wrought on the rural communities to the city’s fringe.

Acres of agricultural and arable land have been acquired by builder-majors to produce high rise slums that fuel the middle class dream of a home and the small-time investor’s desire to speculate.

A drive down that road will reveal an ugly reality — vast barren fields with concrete dumped. Hardly any patch of green remains. A series of commercial establishments have sprung up.

People have bought homes trusting builders but have forgotten to think of the environmental disaster in the name of development – depleted ground water, acres of dry land, the mushrooming of shanties. Lands lie bare with no cultivation with farmers waiting for the right price.

The question is: who should take the call, the builders or the residents? The solution is surprisingly easy and simple. There has to be a midway that both parties can tread on.

Homes should now be self sufficient and independent of natural resource exploitation. Although very few in number, there are builders like BCIL ZED who have been sensitive to the issue of environmental degradation and have created homes that are eco-friendly.

A green home is one which is free from water resources from the city, has its own power generation capability and a fully developed waste management system that ensures zero export of any type of waste. ​

Rainwater harvesting can reduce water dependency from city supply by up to 15-20 or about 59-60 days in a year. Recycling of grey water from kitchen and washing can be used for landscaping, car wash, and flush tanks. This decreases water consumption by a massive 70%.

Solar powered electrical systems are also picking up with more and more homes being retrofitted with them. A small STP can reduce the waste load on municipal authorities to a major extent.

Builders like ZED, BCIL have their own solar and wind solutions for power generation. They have developed household appliances that consume less power than conventional electronic items. A range of forest free furniture is used in all their homes to ensure no forests are being cut.

Just stirring people’s conscience to build a green home is not enough.

Buyers, residents and prospective buyers must invest in initiatives that don’t just aim at settling a community but developing an ecosystem on the whole. Going energy efficient doesn’t cost much. If you could afford a small car, you can afford a lot of these little things that, in the long run, offer returns that are attractive.

Reduction in your power bills, water bills and smarter air-conditioning with clean air and healthy living environment are obvious dividends. Buyers and builders must drive the bigger aim of a sustainable growth for the city.

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Are your plants getting the right amount of water?

watering-can-old-manTending to a garden is a liberating experience and lets you bring out the eco-philic side of you. Although looking after a garden is not rocket science, care must be given to all aspects to ensure your plants look healthy and fresh. One such aspect that is generally overlooked by most of us is watering the plants. Although it appears to be a simple activity, it is in fact one of the most misinterpreted, often with disastrous consequences for the plant. When understood and carried out properly, it is capable of significantly influencing the relationship with the garden.

So let’s start at the very beginning. While we say “we’re watering the plants”, we don’t water plants, we actually water the soil.

Yes, that’s right. Plants take in their required amount of water from the soil so watering the soil around the root zone (away from the stem) is most beneficial to the soil micro-organisms, and therefore the plant.

Equally critical is knowing that plants need moist soil rather than wet or submerged soil. Moist soil enables the water to break down necessary components in the soil into a small enough size to be absorbed through the plant’s root system. Over watering can lead to loss of nutrients and minerals and also decrease aeration.

Plants should be watered early in the morning and not late in the evening. Plant diseases are known to spread in wet, dark conditions and when we water in the late evening, water tends to stay on the leaves, making the plant more susceptible to catch mildew (a fungal disease). In daytime, if water does get on the leaves, it has a chance to dry out in the sunlight. Also, plants need water mainly during daylight to produce food, so watering early morning would ensure that they are able to carry out their activity.

Gardens are completely dependent on our watering and so it needs to be planned and regular. Erratic watering stresses the plants. Allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering is not a good idea and works only for specific plants. Most plants require consistently moist soil conditions.

How do you water plants?

For an urban home garden, there are several ways to water from the simple bucket and mug or rose-can (can with a shower-head nozzle) to the more planned drip irrigation mechanism.

Adopt a method that is best suited for you and one that does not waste water. As far as possible, try to harvest rainwater. Reuse grey water – i.e. water used for washing clothes or vessels for use in the garden. But remember this is only if we avoid synthetic detergents and use natural alternatives or other powders.

Mulched soil has greater water retention capacity and also provides nutrients. It is best suited for a garden. If you have a rooftop garden, ensure windbreaks to prevent uprooting of plants.

Paying attention to the health of the soil is the most important aspect of a plant’s health. Ensuring a well-proportioned mix of sand, red earth, compost and soil-building material (like cocopeat) is essential to make the soil loose, porous and to increase its water retention capacity.

The needs of each plant are different and so plan your gardening activity accordingly taking care of each plant to have a healthy and lively garden.

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WHERE’S MY WATER?

WaterBangalore is largely dependent on groundwater. The largest source of water in Bangalore apart from Cauvery water is from borewells.

We are pulling water that has been down there for hundreds of years, that is somebody else’s right as much as it is ours. And the breach of this right can be clearly seen with unequal resource allocation.

How do we get Ground water?

We all live above spaces between soil particles and cracks, fissures and faults in the rocks, which are known as aquifers. Water in these aquifers is rainwater that has trickled down and percolated into the earth. The aquifers are spread independent of property or administrative boundaries. Each time we pull out water from the ground, we are possibly denying someone else of their source of water.

The geology of Bangalore, and most of the Deccan plateau, is hard-rock geology. This type of geological setting is composed of three layers- the top soil where the plants grow, the weathered zone below the top soil and the hard rock. The weathered zone is actually crushed version of the hard rock which holds water in the pores and spaces in between the particles.

When it rains and water percolates down, it passes through the weathered zone and then into the hard rock fissures. A large connected set of fissures, in effect one single body of water under the ground, is called an aquifer. Aquifers in the hard rock are called ‘confined aquifers’ as they are under pressure. Water in the weathered zone is shallow and is referred to as shallow unconfined aquifer and they can travel laterally into the soil. Open wells up to depths of around 80 feet in Bangalore were meant to access water in the shallow unconfined aquifers. Over time these have been dried out, except in certain parts of Bangalore. After open wells started drying, people started digging borewells which were going deeper and picking up water from the fissures in rocks – or from confined aquifers. It is important to note that confined aquifers take more time to recharge the unconfined aquifers.

It’s difficult to predict where you get water in deeper confined aquifers.  At depths of 100 to 650 feet, there are a lot of fissures through which water trickles in. There is no way to predict, other than testing each site.

When you dig a borewell and start pulling water out, you are emptying the water in the aquifers which is a finite amount. The process by which water enters into these fissures is called recharge. This can be natural or artificial. Since there is only a finite amount of water underneath, we cannot endlessly keep pumping out water.

As a city, we need to understand how much water is available. This is not an easy task. All the residents in an area need to share where they have dug the bore well, how deep did it go, at what depth did they get water, etc. The data collected across the city can help get a better picture of the city’s aquifers.

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Citizen Journalist ‘Govt must make Housing Affordable’ by Chandrashekar Hariharan

Citizen Journalist ‘Govt must make Housing Affordable’ by Chandrashekar Hariharan

Bengaluru has the dubious distinction of being a city with a very high slum density. We have had this tag for the last 12 years as over four million people live in semipermanent homes in the city.

Over the last five years, things have gone from bad to worse. It is time the government came up with a viable solution. What we need to do is make homes more affordable for people. But how can we do that when the land prices are soaring and nobody wants to make a bad investment?

The solution could be letting private builders own the buildings rather than selling them the land and then allowing them to lease or sell the houses at affordable EMIs or rates that would encourage the real buyers.

Now what the government is doing -the job of the realtor builder without addressing the issue of providing affordable houses. If we had controlled private players instead, we could make houses available for all.

The problem that Bengaluru is facing is not unique. Ahmedabad too has a similar problem, but we can learn from the way it is addressing it. If we are ready to learn and adapt, there are several lessons to take from Japan, Singapore and other countries as well.  But to start with we must be willing to learn.

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