Dr. K M Soni, Chief Engineer, CPWD, Nagpur, Piyush Soni, Amdocs, Pune

Traditional methods of planning and construction were based on minimum energy requirement as it got evolved based on observations and experiences of many years. The concept was based on non depleting resources like sun and air along with the use of local materials. Later when British came, they continued to adopt local knowledge and skill and even continued modifications suiting to local climate. Even Rashtrapati Bhawan, and buildings in Lutyen Bungalow zone were designed accordingly. But later, design concept used in western countries was adopted which was based on materials like steel, glass, and air-conditioning particularly when availability of electricity increased. Air conditioning in western climate was a simpler mechanism as only heating was to be ensured for most of the time and such a system was also a necessity of that climate and glass was required to stop wind while allowing sun into the buildings. As a simplified approach, many engineers and architects adopted such concept favourable to cold climate in Indian warm climate.

In cold climates such as in western countries, wearing the coats and suits was the necessity as temperature outside buildings was low and such dressing required less energy to heat the buildings as they could bear the temperature even if it was slightly lower than the comfortable. Our climatic conditions were absolutely different and had warm climate for most of the period in a year, hence this required wearing cotton cloths and no coats and suits. But unfortunately western dressing pattern got adoptability in warm climate and some of us started wearing coats and suits even in warm climate. This necessitated use of air conditioners and further keeping the temperature as low as it could be comfortable, may be in the range of 18-25 degree Celsius inside the buildings which had a lot of energy consumption. Surprisingly, such dressing pattern has been adopted by well educated people, well aware of requirements of energy saving.

Traditional construction was based on the concept of natural air cooling in which orientation, design of building and its components and use of locally available materials were instrumental in providing comfortable occupational conditions by making use of air and sun. Such concept included increased floor height, providing verandah/balcony, courtyard, concept of bungalow, design of doors/windows with less or no use of glass, providing sunshades, proper roof slope and traditional water proofing treatment, large wall thickness, provision of lakes, ponds, wells, water channels, dome and use of locally available materials etc. Thus, traditional energy efficient concept of construction needs to be revived for energy conservation.

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