Category Archives: ZED

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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Kolkata hosts the best builder minds as IGBC plans the future

KolkataIt was a weekend meant for reflection. Some of the finest minds in the country now spearheading the building industry’s future in terms of both powering the industry growth, as well as shaping policy met at a quiet resort outside of Kolkata.

The leaders present were the heads of national building majors – Tata Housing, DLF, Raheja, Daikin and Carrier Aircon, and many other national majors who are mentoring the greening of India’s building professionals.

They were from 15 cities and 8 states represented with the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the City Chapters at the conclave.

The agenda was: to see how they could bring about greater enrollment to the purpose of not just building but offering inspiring directions in managing sustainably natural resources that go into making of building infrastructure.

“I have not had a more intense and mentally fatiguing day!” said a first-timer leader participant. The first day saw over 14 hours of exchange of views, opinions, perspectives on what role the Indian Green Building Council can play in mobilizing opinion and galvanizing action among builders nationally.
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Reflections by the Brahmaputra


BrahmaputraThe IIT Guwahati on the banks of the great river that runs over a km wide at this state capital, had its students hold their annual festival, Udgam in early January. About a thousand students of the 6000 on campus of B. Tech, other bachelor degrees, PHDs, and Master students combine to hold this festival once a year.

It is a lecture series held over the weekend with eminent business wizards and entrepreneurs delivering lectures on their work. The intent is to have them share their experiences and inspire the students. People from diverse fields of knowledge participate in the event and share their knowledge. Among them this year was a brand specialist from Bangalore, an Education Network consultant and Hariharan of ZED.

Among those who have been speakers at this platform are stalwarts from industry like Mohit Dubey (carwale.com), Arun Shourie, Mira Sanyal (former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland), Soumodip Sarkar, an economist, and the CEO of Mumbai Dabbawala Association, Anuja Chauhan, a former executive creative director of J Walter Thompson, and so on.

Other such events of the IIT Guwahati are the half marathon, the Technothlon, and the Techniche. Says Hariharan, “The quality of thinking among the young as I found at the Sabarmati Ashram two weeks ago among 450 other students, and now here at Guwahati is remarkable.”

Here were about 650 first year students and about 2000 students from the subsequent years of the IIT programs at Guwahati, participating. “Their levels of concerns on India are truly beyond their age in terms of maturity,” he added.

“There were B. Tech students of chemistry and mathematics who had rejected offers of up to 1.3 crores last year! These boys have opted to continue their masters and then to get on to research rather than fall for the lure of money.”

These islands of relative excellence in India are securing a greater commitment from the youngsters trained in their portals, unlike in the past when their predecessors went with the sole intent of taking attractive salary packages, and not putting their learning to better use.

This trend has nothing really to do with the institutions themselves; it is to do with the change in India’s young.

It is heartening to hear such commitment from the young especially when we know that there are 600 million Indians who are under 25 and 150 million of them just crossing 18 years as they gain their right to vote in the Parliamentary elections for the first time.
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Ambassador invites BCIL chief to woo Omani investors

Muscat Indian EmbassyEmbassies of India across the world have been trying to see how they can hold annual seminars to pitch for greater interest in India’s business story. As part of this program CII has been partnering with Indian embassies to have business leaders present the India story to distinguished government and industry leaders in other countries.

The Indian ambassador to Oman, Mr. J.S. Mukul invited BCIL’s Hariharan for a keynote address to about 100 Omani government officials and business leaders, as well as Indian senior corporate managers and leaders at an economic summit in Muscat in early December.

Oman and India have had excellent relations for three decades. The King of Oman Qaboos bin Said Al Said was a student of Shankar Dayal Sharma, the former President of India. The King, and therefore, Oman has had a soft heart for India, thanks to the excellent diplomatic relations the two countries have enjoyed. There are many Indians who have lived for 15 to 40 years in Oman. No one who goes in there usually comes out, is something that most Indians who know of that region, say.

It was a tough task to actually talk of the India story since a lot of it has gone sour in the last 7 to 8 years. Investments people have made in India have turned bad either because of lack of ethic and the failure to keep business promises, or of the Indian economy’s weakening to a point where investments made 4 to 5 years ago at Rs 38 to a dollar have soured as investments at the current level of over Rs. 62 a dollar.

To present the India story is tough, said Hariharan to the august gathering that was attended by the Indian Ambassador and a very senior emissary of the Omani Finance Ministry.
“It is true that we have a fantastic potential ahead of us, but we can’t get our act together, thanks to inability of corporate managements to deliver on promises and of the completely uncertain climate of policy and governance that Indian regimes have offered in the last 15 years,” he said in candid admission that had the audience pleasantly surprised.

The India growth story has remained more on paper than in actual content, he continued. Hariharan went on to unfold the potential that lay in India despite the challenges.

The feedback at the end of the keynote address and through the pre-lunch session with the distinguished Omanis and Indians was electrifying. They came in with very low expectations to the conference. Two hours later there were many who came up and spoke to the BCIL team. Said one participant, “There was no one who had actually successfully presented the India Story with as much frankness.”

The ambassador Mukul said, “It is not that Dr Hariharan’s keynote address is going to make a dramatic change and influence our leaders to change their mind, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
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Baroda gets a taste of ZED insights

Picture 156President – ZED Communities, B.S. Harikrishna made a presentation in late November in Baroda to a very discerning audience of architects, urban planners, and students of engineering and architecture. It was at an IGBC event in the once royal city of Vadodara.

He received a standing ovation. At the end of his presentation, Karan Grover, a well-known architect in practice from the town, who is also the chapter chairman for the city, picked up the mike in a moment of enthusiasm at the deep impact that the presentation had made and said, “I make a commitment to get Harikrishna to meet Modi, the Chief Minister.
Let me see how the government can help his company secure a land where they can demonstrate these ZED approaches to energy, water, and waste.” We haven’t yet heard from Karan or the Gujarat Govt. But let’s hope someday there’ll be the opportunity to push such frontiers.
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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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IS YOUR FURNITURE SPREADING POISON IN YOUR HOME?

DSCN3746Formaldehyde is a chemical that can cause serious health damage. It is present in disguise within our homes and usually goes unnoticed. The most significant source of formaldehyde is the pressed wood products that use urea and formaldehyde resins as adhesives. These products generally include particleboard, hardwood-plywood and fiberboard.

Particleboard is used for sub-flooring and shelving in cabinets and furniture.  Hardwood-plywood is used for decorative wall coverings and fiberboard is used for drawer fronts and furniture tops. Fiberboards are significantly higher in formaldehyde emissions than particleboard or hardwood.

This toxic chemical is generally used as a preservative in labs and can lead to serious health problems especially for kids. Cribs, cots and other furniture can release up to 40 parts per billion of formaldehyde per day — enough to cause illnesses like asthma, allergies and even increase the risk of cancer.

People move to greener spaces with a notion of providing healthy living conditions to their families but fail to take care of the smaller aspects, such as formaldehyde emissions, that can pose larger health hazards.

A study shows that formaldehyde emissions in a newly constructed apartment had as much as 23 parts per billion per day of formaldehyde even before the furnishings were installed. This is a staggering 8395 x 10-9 part per billion per year. Imagine that amount of toxicity in your house which is a large part of your indoor environment.

So how do we overcome this? The answer to this lies in the use of furnishings that are free of such toxic chemicals and made with recycled materials that require little or no formaldehyde-based adhesives. Manufacturers like ZED have brought in a range of furniture that is forest-free and use no formaldehyde and so offer zero emission furniture.

Who doesn’t want a healthy life? But how many of us do what it takes to ensure such well-being, for not just one but many generations to come?

It is time now to adopt a chemical-free, toxin-free lifestyle before it is too late to realize.

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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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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.

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