Category Archives: Water

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Waste not, want not By Dr. Chandrashekar Hariharan

A green home doesn’t only mean eco-friendly construction, it means an efficient space that reduces dependence on government infrastructure for water, energy and waste

Waste not, want not

 Let’s first make the distinction, for the sake of convenience and clarity, between an ecologically sustainable home and a green home. The former is something that you build with materials that make for the least use of exhaustible natural resources — a typical farmer’s house is the best example, with a combination of clay walls, cowdung surfaces, thatch roofs, limestone-coated walls. There have been homes in the urban context that have attempted to use some ‘traditional’ elements but not always with success on reducing use of natural resources.
What is labelled in current times as a ‘green home’ is what you ‘architect’ and ‘engineer’ in terms of solutions for a regular urban home, taking into account use of building materials for floors, walls, roofs and windows, the use of systems and technologies that reduce consumption of water and energy without compromising comfort or convenience the way you define them as a dweller. If you are willing to spend a little more as capital cost at the start, you can secure savings into the future that can help you recoup your additional capital cost over five to seven or 10 years, depending on what the feature is that you are adding to your ‘green home’.

Green homes can help you save as much 30 to 50 per cent in your energy bills. With the right elements in place, you can rely less on fresh water and therefore increase water security. Beyond such savings, green homes can help you generate some wealth from waste, by managing its conversion into either manure or compost, or even energy for your kitchen. The important thing is that a ‘green home’ in the urban context will help and enable you to reduce your dependence on government infrastructure for water, energy and waste.

The current green market for buildings is focusing on rainwater harvesting for every building, waste water treatment plants that offer 100 per cent recycled water for use, and introducing energy efficiency in the use of pumps and heavy-duty electrical equipment in buildings.

Builders should take practical positions. They should not adopt a textbook approach to sustainability. It has to be replicable, and sometimes scalable. We address the low-hanging fruits that are easier to pick both on demand-side and supply-side management of aspects of water, energy, waste: rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, ‘Grow Our Own Water’ plans that ensure independence from municipal water supply, use deep aquifer water, natural air-conditioning systems are a few examples of such strategic approaches.

We should look for upstream carbon-effectiveness — use of non-river sand based concrete, triple blend concrete, lighter building blocks, debris used for road subgrades, optimising structural inputs for framed structures, establishing micro-climate right at the stage of design and not as an afterthought…. the list is truly long.

The vision is simple: every building must drop demand for freshwater by 40 per cent by voluntary compliance, or by law. The same holds good for power. We should have a drop in demand by at least 40 per cent, with investments made by the building industry for energy generation on their own without dependence on the grid for such local power. All industries should reduce their demand by a minimum 40 per cent for power from governments and local bodies. And they should voluntarily install recharge wells for every borewell that draws from deep aquifers.

Governments don’t offer solutions that are creative. They destroy resources that have been built by earth over many thousand millennia — indiscriminate extraction is only one example of such acts. Governments, as they are structured in India, are simply not equipped to offer solutions into this future before us for these resources and their sensitive management.

At the core, there is only one challenge: consumer behaviour and human behaviour. Can this change? We must not just buy what we need, we have to “buy into” what we need. This means that we as citizens who can afford a certain lifestyle, must bring unto ourselves the joy of responsible buying, and consuming. We have to realise that less than 10 per cent of India’s and the world’s population actually consumes 80 per cent of the world’s natural resources. The poor do not have the money to fulfill their want to consume — not that their aspirations are any different from those of the urban rich. So the single challenge is in bringing about this joy of responsible buying and knowing the significance of what we are buying into.

However, there’s a silver lining. Over just the last four years, the 12-year-old CII Indian Green Building Council alone has managed to certify over 500 million sq ft of commercial spaces. This figure is set to touch the one billion mark (for commercial buildings alone) by 2015. This is because of the clear advantage that commercial builders see in sharp reduction [over 30 per cent] in post-occupancy costs of such green buildings. This is a major draw among B2B tenants that such buildings attract as clients.

The performance has been even more encouraging on the residential sector front, with over 800 million sq ft of IGBC-green-rated buildings coming up across India. Between the GOI’s GRIHA certification and the Pune-based EcoHousing Rating System, there is another 100 million sq ft of such residential and commercial buildings that have been certified over the same period of four years. The downside is that this accounts for less than two per cent of the entire building/construction industry total footprint of buildings in India. There is a very long way to go.

The green market for home appliances and consumer durables is going to see a major and dramatic shift in the near future. All air-conditioners in the Indian and the world market will shift to inverter-based ACs, which will drop energy consumption by 30 to 70 per cent! The current market for ACs is at about 3-3.5 million per annum. This is set to rise to 6.5 million by 2015. The drop in energy demand therefore will be significant in the decade ahead. Wireless energy — like wireless telephony that came in the mid-90s — is the next big game-changer in green development.
If you step back to discern the longer-term trend, you will see green and energy-efficient buildings are here to stay. zz

(The writer is executive chairman and co-founder of BCIL Zed Homes)

City water stats

Water supply board finally has the courage to say, “ No water supply to your house if you are not Rain-water Harvesting compliant.”. Will this work? If it did, it’ll reduce fresh water demand for every house by 10,000 litres. At 1 million houses today in Bangalore, it means 10 billion litres of water saved. At Rs.45/ 1000 litres, it means Rs. 45,00,00,000 saved per annum. Do we want to do it?

Where green is a way of life by Dr. Chandrashekar Hariharan

01HAB-Eco-build_01_1473191eChandrashekar Hariharan of Biodiversity Conservation India Limited (BCIL) & Vice-Chirman – IGBC, Bangalore, spoke to The Hindu-HABITAT to share his views on the existing problems staring at the city and where he has intervened to bring in a difference.

We are sensitive about sharing a river. We gregariously welcome home water-tankers.
We are the lifestyle-conscious Bangaloreans, who understand the water problem of this ever-expanding city like never before.
But are we being tunnel-visioned into meeting our immediate water requirements, while not looking at the dire, dry future?

Here’s a fact. The average water consumption of a Bangalorean per day is 140 litres. The overall supply of water from the Cauvery as well as ground water sources to the city is 1,023 million litres/day (MLD).

The total demand for water in Bangalore is 1,342 MLD. That means 319 MLD less than the requirement or over 22 lakh people without their average quota of water.

The sudden realisation is that you are one among the two million and that’s not a small number to get out of.

The green step

With forethought for the impending ecological disaster, Zero-Energy-Driven (ZED), the market face of BCIL, has been an active crusader in the realm of eco-sustainability. ZED has been redesigning urban living in a way that it addresses problems related to water, energy and waste. All eco-sensitive homes created by BCIL are 100 per cent independent of BWSSB and 70 per cent independent of the power supply board.

Rainwater harvesting, ground-water replenishing and other water conservation methods have made every ZED-home water-positive. The solar-lit residences also enjoy the freedom of power since they not only have stable, pollution-free, home-generated power, but can some day supply back to the grid, in the long run, when the government permits such a regime.

Every ZED home saves 100,000 litres of water a year, and more than 100,000 KWh of power every year. These are not exclusive to ZED homes. Any one of us can future-proof our homes and cut our city some slack by incorporating some of the smart technologies that are easily available with experts.

ZED has been based out of Bangalore since 1994. Every step taken by ZED in its journey of over two decades has been towards restoring the charm and helping the city respond to the challenge of growth. On the eve of World Environment Day it is good enough reason for us to retrospect and redefine Bangalore to make it a livable city.

(As told to RANJANI GOVIND)

(This is the introductory column of ‘Eco-Build’ that speaks of individual green initiatives in construction that have made a difference to the neighbourhood. Send in your inputs with details to ranjani.govind@thehindu.co.in)

Rainwater harvesting? What’s that?

getimageEven After Many Deadlines To Make It Mandatory, Residents Of Some Areas Think RWH Is A New Concept Many Prefer To Buy Tanker Water Rather Than Install The System.

Bangalore: Deadlines would have come and gone. Still many Bangaloreans are clueless about rainwater harvesting (RWH), though it is compulsory to have it in most residential plots, with conservation of water being the buzzword.

With supply of Cauvery river water to the city from KRS dam threatening to be reduced to a trickle soon, and no alternatives visible in the long-term, there is a sense of urgency to adopt rainwater harvesting. But residents of Bangalore are sparing little thought to it, and are instead paying through their nose to buy private tanker water and cribbing about it later.

Asked why she has not installed RWH, Mukhteshwari J, homemaker from Rajarajeshwarinagar, said: “I have not heard about it. It seems to be a fairly new concept. How do we do it and is there any rule which compels us to make arrangements?”  When TOI reporter explained the concept, she replied: “We have to get hold of plumbers, undertake works for days to set up a sump and fit additional pipes to collect rainwater from the rooftop. Who has the time to monitor all this?”

Usha Srinath candidly admitted that it is easy to dial an agency to get a watertanker and spend Rs 3,000 a month than build a sump and store rainwater. “I require water tankers every three days. I don’t have the infrastructure to store rainwater like a sump or a tank on my roof or in the garden. All I have to do is dial up the tanker agent and he will get me water anytime of the day,” she told TOI.

Dasarahalli, Peenya, HRBR Layout, KR Puram and W h i t e f i e l d are becoming deserts of sorts with  most people not getting piped water supply and borewells, the only source of water, drying up. Here too there is an apathetic attitude towards installing RWH among the residents who are either very poor or belong to upper middle class.

“I haven’t yet thought of installing RWH in my house because the consumption is very little. I live with my ailing father and a servant but who will help me find the right person and ensure that I am not charged more than the market rate?” said Reshma Kaur, senior citizen from Borewell Road in Whitefield. (Inputs from Kinnari, Sanjana Vasudevan and Deepika Burli)

Pilgrim flow to Kudala Sangama takes a big hit

The other side of the water crisis in Bagalkot district is that tourist inflow has been hit. This is because pilgrims visiting Kudala Sangama seem to be having second thought, thanks to the severe drought and both Krishna and Malaprabha rivers drying up. Pilgrims who come to pray at the Aikya Mantapa or the holy Samadhi of Basavanna, the 12th century revolutionary saint, take a holy dip in the rivers. But in the past 15 days, the number of tourists has decreased from 1,000 to 700. However, the Kudala Sangama Development Authority has made arrangements to supply water through tankers.

Fountains at Brindavan too become a casualty

Planning to visit Brindavan Gardens? Here is a dampener. The beautiful fountains have gone dry because of low water level in the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS). Officials of Cauvery Niravari Nigam Limited say that about 20 fountains on the south bank have stopped functioning. But those on the north bank, including the famous musical fountain, are still working. They too will cease to function once the water level plummets to below the 50 ft mark, says an official. This is because most fountains work depending on the water pressure in the dam. The next on the hit list could be the boating facility.

VEG or NON Veg…….

18jun08g

65 billion land animals are reared for food every year to feed 6.5 billion of us. We breed them for meats. They take up food, land, water, energy, and pollute the environment.

They feed on 80 per cent of all corn and 40 per cent of the world’s food grains—only to be slaughtered. As human numbers rise, we need to reduce livestock to avoid large-scale hunger. That’ll be a reality 50 years from now.

Meat is energy-intensive. With the energy needed to produce a single hamburger, you could drive a small car 20 miles. Adopting a plant-based diet actually does more to reduce emissions than driving a hybrid car!

Meat requires more land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, refrigeration, transport and energy than would be used if we simply ate plant foods directly! It needs 20 times more land to feed a non-vegetarian compared to a vegetarian.

Think about it. It ain’t so difficult to go without meats.

Is anyone listening in on the water crisis?

water_shortage_challengesAll things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There is no such thing as a free lunch, nature bats last. These are the four laws of ecology.

These come to mind when you think of the three scenarios that are emerging on water across India and the rest of the developing world that is seeing much of the damage.

Scenario 1: The world is seriously running out of fresh water. It is not a question of money needed to reach out to people living in water-stressed regions of our world. We are polluting, diverting, and depleting the earth’s limited water resources at a dangerous and steadily increasing rate. The abuse and displacement of water is the ground-level equivalent of green house gas emissions. It is likely to be as great a cause of climate change as carbon emission is.

Scenario 2: Daily more and more people are living without access to clean water. As the crisis of ecology deepens, the human crisis is also deepening. More children are killed by dirty water than by war or malaria or HIV and traffic accidents combined. The global water crisis is the most powerful symbol of the growing inequality in the world. While the wealthy enjoy boutique water any time, millions of poor have access only to contaminated water from local rivers and wells.

Scenario 3: A powerful corporate water cartel is emerging. They are seizing control of every aspect of water for their own profit. Companies deliver drinking water and take away waste water. They put massive amounts of water in plastic bottles and sell it to us at exorbitant prices that we are willing to pay. Companies are building sophisticated technologies to recycle our dirty water and sell it back to us. Companies extract and move water in huge pipelines from rich aquifers and watersheds to sell to big cities and industries.

Companies buy, store, and trade water on the open market like selling candies. Companies want governments to deregulate water sector and allow the market to set water policy. Every day they get closer to this goal, the worse the human crises will get on water.

India can easily Go GREEN…..

fuzzygreenhouseWhen we talk of the crisis on energy & water, we seem to forget that it is practical for urban India to achieve sustainability on these 2 resources because of a great blessing we have.

The first advantage is that, we have over 65% of our commercial buildings-existing and those to be created by 2020, in 3 urban clusters of NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore.

The second blessing is that any building anywhere in our 4,000 cities/towns has to secure approval from the urban local body, in every such town and city for its plans and approvals. This makes governance easier and implementation of law and regulation manageable.

With a simple set of regulations, which focuses on these 2 sub regions of India, we can bring a game changing set of transformations in use of energy and water and of waste management.

%d bloggers like this: