Passive strategies enhance the usage of renewable sources of energy, which in turn make the build cost efficient. Different passive design techniques include building’s orientation, window placement, sizes, shading devices, built form and shape, and settlement pattern, along with efficient use of locally available materials for warm-humid regions.

S. K. Singh, Senior Principal Scientist and Professor, AcSIR, CSIR-Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee; Sara Ali, Project Assistant (Architect), CSIR-Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee; and Utkarsh Singh, Graduate Student, Manipal University Jaipur (MUJ), Jaipur

Incorporating passive techniques in building designs is becoming essential as they help in reducing the thermal cooling loads of buildings to maintain indoor temperature. These techniques can also be used for low- and mid-income housing groups, and for the economically weaker section (EWS) to provide better and more comfortable living standards.

Warm humid region climate is categorized by heavy rainfall and high humidity thus it is essential to provide maximum open spaces to allow cross ventilation. By using these strategies in housing, energy demand can be reduced by 25%-35%, thus making building energy-efficient. It is necessary to incorporate passive techniques in designing of houses in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner.

Sustainable building techniques make a valuable contribution to sustainable development (Akadiri et al. 2012). Environmental evaluation and energy performance audit of buildings are becoming important parameters for sustainable design or green architecture (Ghaffarianhoseini et al. 2013). The sustainability of a structure is influenced by the materials used, technology and affordability. The aim of these buildings is efficient use of energy, water, and other resources, and improving the user’s productivity (Singh et al. 2010).

In sustainable designing of multi-story buildings there are four main strategies:
  • passive solar gain
  • active solar gain
  • active wind gain
  • facade designing.
Passive solar means building orientation according to the sun, while active solar involves appliance of photovoltaic cells. Elevation design along with considering building facade also acts a source for internal heat gain, thus appropriate materials should be used to maintain the thermal comfort (Wang and Adeli 2014). Following are the advantages of sustainable designing:
  • Minimizes operational energy, water requirements and thus less waste generation.
  • Utilizes locally available materials making it cost-effective.
  • Involves passive techniques to attain comfortable indoor environment and a healthy workspace.
  • Structure life is also increased (Radwan et al. 2015).
Depending on the climate, size of the house and development level, energy requirement varies. Construction projects consume 38% of the total energy annually (Yüksek and Karadayi 2017). The main usage of energy in a building is lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation etc. It is also consumed during production of materials (embodied energy), so there is a need to conserve energy during construction through appropriate designing, proper orientation, building form, knowledge of climatic conditions, site planning, use of renewable resources, and achieving thermal comfort (Thapa and Panda 2015).

Energy usage can also be reduced by using materials with low embodied energy like fly ash bricks; fiber reinforced bricks; timber and adobe bricks. Cost can be minimized using solar water heater or photovoltaic cells on the roof (Chel and Kaushik 2018).

Various policies such as Green Rating Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) developed by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) operated by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) with National Building Code (NBC), Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and voluntary green building rating systems (Sharma 2018), have been already initiated in the construction sector.

Warm-Humid Climatic Region
Classification of climate zones in India (NBC 2016)Figure 1: Classification of climate zones in India (NBC 2016)
India is divided into six different climatic zones as shown in Fig.1 .Warm humid region is comparatively high temperature region (300C-350C), heavy rainfall and relatively high humidity all over the year. The temperature remains the same through the day with light winds. The intensity of solar radiation is also high with heavy precipitation and humidity levels (Conservation and Code 2007). Temperature, humidity and wind are the main elements in a warm-humid climatic region, which effects thermal comfort of dwellings. As the low-income group (LIG) and the middle income group (MIG) cannot afford mechanical cooling to maintain the internal temperature, passive techniques are effective measures to have an energy efficient building with economical annual cost (Roux 2015).

Affordable Housing
There is a massive shortage of affordable housing in India. With the rise in economy, energy consumption in households is also increasing. Air conditioning units, operation and maintenance add to the building cost. In Affordable Housing, the building allows natural ventilation to maintain a comfortable internal temperature and reduce consumption of energy, as compared to commercial and institutional buildings (Sen 2014).The division of household according to JNNURM mission directorate (2011) is shown in Table 1 (TERI 2014)

Table 1: Definition of affordable housing: JNNURM directorate (2011)

Passive Strategies and Climate Responsive Design
To enhance the indoor temperature, insulation is required in walls and roofs. The shading of windows by overhangs and side fins and using energy efficient materials in construction are also needed (Kini et al. 2017). Buildings are placed in a scattered manner to allow air movement needed in warm-humid regions. Large openings are needed both in the plan and elevation; placement of bedrooms should be on the east side (Factors Governing the Design Aspects of Sustainable Building in Different Climatic Zones 2017). The studies are given in table 2.

Table 2: Passive design strategies by various researchers

Table 3: Passive strategies and their applications

Construction of Roof
The construction of roof using traditional techniques and materials is shown in Fig. 2 (Pingel et al. 2019).

Traditional terracotta Madras roof and Sloped hollow block roofFigure 2: (A) Traditional terracotta Madras roof
(B) Sloped hollow block roof

Building Materials for Walls and Roofs
Hollow Concrete Blocks are economical, environment friendly and low maintenance, and have good thermal insulation, fire resistance and load bearing capacity. Also, their strength can be specified according to the site requirements (Fig. 3) (Chaure et al. 2018).

Hollow concrete blocks wall (source- Chaure et al. 2018)Figure 3: Hollow concrete blocks wall (source- Chaure et al. 2018)
    • Timber has good thermal resistance, high heat storage capacity, and good regulation of humidity as a warm-humid region has high moisture content (Fig. 4) (Harte 2018).

Timber constructionFigure 4: Timber construction

    • Bamboo Roofing Sheet is a successful roofing material as it has almost similar tensile strength as that of steel. It is eco-friendly, lightweight, tough and long-lasting and has minimum fire hazard (Refer Fig. 5) (Chowdhury and Roy 2013).

Low cost bamboo housingFigure 5: Low cost bamboo housing

    • Ferrocement is made up of cement mortar and wire mesh reinforcement. As it is thin in section it has less steel, and a lower embodied energy .It is strong, durable and cost-effective and used in the construction of hollow columns, walls, beams and for repair of deteriorated structures (Deshmukh, 2013).
    • Laterite stone is commonly used for low-cost constructions in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. Usually, plastered with lime mortar, it gains strength on exposure to air and sun (Fig. 6) (Maklur and Narkhede 2018).

Red Laterite stone constructionFigure 6: Red Laterite stone construction

    • Mangalore tiles are cheap, durable, and eco-friendly. They are used in roofs, applied in kitchens and bathrooms, to remove smoke through air gaps in between the tiles. They are made up of laterite clay and placed over sloping roofs in places that experience heavy rainfall (Fig. 7) (Sarathraj and Somayaji 2014).

Mangalore tiles used in roofs (Source -Sarathraj and Somayaji 2014)Figure 7: Mangalore tiles used in roofs (Source -Sarathraj and Somayaji 2014)

    • Coconut palms are used as a vernacular building material in Tamil Nadu and Kerala as they are available in large quantities, cheap, and used for making thatch and mats from woven leaves. Being eco-friendly, they are suitable for warm humid regions (Fig. 8) (Killmann, and Fink 1996).

Coconut palm roofs (Source-Killmann, and  Fink 1996)Figure 8: Coconut palm roofs (Source-Killmann, and Fink 1996)

    • Adobe brick is made up of sand, clay along with chopped straw, and moistened with water .For strength, cow dung is also added. It is then dried in the shape of a brick. It is eco-friendly, provides thermal comfort, low maintenance and cheap. It is used in construction of foundations, walls, door, windows, beams and roof (Fig. 9) (B. 2014).

Adobe Brick wall construction (Source-B. 2014)Figure 9: Adobe Brick wall construction (Source-B. 2014)

    • Rat Trap bond is a masonry technique with cavity inside the wall. It requires brick as a building material. Along with the thermal load reduction it also saves the electricity usage (Refer Fig. 10) (Ullah et al. 2018).

Rat Trap Bond masonry techniqueFigure 10: Rat Trap Bond masonry technique

    • Stone is the most ancient building material available in the form of blocks and can be cut into various sizes for construction of foundations, walls, columns, lintels, pavement of roads. They are durable, strong and economical (Fig. 11) (Balasubramanian 2017).

Flat stones and large undressed stones (Mitigation and Centre 2013)Figure 11: Flat stones and large undressed stones (Mitigation and Centre 2013)
Raw Earth as a building material
The Auroville Earth Institute and Centre for Sustainable Research (CSR) aims to build a link between raw earth as a building material with modern technologies. It has developed new techniques that save energy, is environment-friendly and feasible. It focuses mainly on reduction in the usage of steel and cement. Compressed earth blocks are most widely used as a building material in Auroville (Refer Fig. 12) (Auroville’s Case study). To prevent water erosion it is stabilized with 3-5% cement. The material is durable, ecological, cheap and requires easy workmanship. Most of the construction in Auroville demonstrates this through vaulted floor and roof designs. (Bhatia, B. 2014).

Buildings made from compressed earth blocks (CEB) (Auroville’s Case study).Figure 11: Buildings made from compressed earth blocks (CEB) (Auroville’s Case study).

The Auram Press 3000 can create 80 types of blocks with 18 moulds. They are compressed in a press (manual or motorised) and cured for 28 days.

Different construction blocks created by Auram Press 3000 (Source-Google images)Figure 12: Different construction blocks created by Auram Press 3000 (Source-Google images)

Challenges in building with passive strategies:
  • With fresh or renovated construction, early expenses of installation can be 10%-30% higher.
  • Climatic conditions may change the performance.
  • Exterior environment makes a difference in design
Climate responsive architecture helps in maintaining the indoor environment quality and helps us adopt traditional building methods using materials like laterite blocks, hollow concrete blocks, hollow clay blocks along with some energy-efficient passive design strategies. These strategies are a good alternative for artificial cooling methods and are cost-effective. Thus, it should be made mandatory for all the planners to incorporate passive strategies and make buildings energy-efficient.

  • Akadiri, P. O., Chinyio, E. A., & Olomolaiye, P. O. (2012). Design of a sustainable building: A conceptual framework for implementing sustainability in the building sector. Buildings, 2(2), 126–152.
  • Aldawoud, A. (2017). Windows design for maximum cross-ventilation in buildings. Advances in Building Energy Research, 11(1), 67–86. Auroville’s Case study. (n.d.). Energy, 91(0), 0–5.
  • B. B. (2014). Studies on Stabilised Adobe Blocks. International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology, 03(18), 259–264.
  • Balasubramanian, A. (2017). “Properties of building stones” (August).
  • Bhatia, B. (2014). Auroville : A Utopian Paradox. Columbia University Academic Commons, (August 1947), 1–13.
  • Chaure, A. P., Shinde, P. A., Raut, H. M., Dudhal, P. D., & Khotkar, R. G. (2018). Hollow concrete blocks. 4(1), 1–9.
  • Chel, A., & Kaushik, G. (2018). Renewable energy technologies for sustainable development of energy efficient building. Alexandria Engineering Journal, 57(2), 655–669.
  • Chowdhury, S., & Roy, S. (2013). “Prospects of Low Cost Housing in India”. Geomaterials, 03(02), 60–65.
  • Conservation, E., & Code, B. (2007). Design guide. Fire Prevention and Fire Engineers Journals, (MAR.).
  • Deshmukh, S. A. (2013). International Journal of Pure and Applied Research in Engineering and Technology. 1(8), 187–191.
  • Dili, A. S., Naseer, M. A., & Zacharia Varghese, T. (2010). The influence of internal courtyard of kerala traditional residential buildings in providing a comfortable indoor environment. International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering, 3(1), 2–5.
  • Doctor-Pingel, M., Vardhan, V., Manu, S., Brager, G., & Rawal, R. (2019). A study of indoor thermal parameters for naturally ventilated occupied buildings in the warm-humid climate of southern India. Building and Environment, 151(November 2018), 1–14.
  • Environment, B. (2016). The Role of Passive house Principles To Improve Comfort In Bangalore.
  • Factors Governing the Design Aspects of Sustainable Building in Different Climatic Zones. (2017). 7(5), 390–395.
  • George, A. T., & Dash, S. P. (2019). Exploring Feasibility of Passive Cooling Techniques in Residential Buildings in Kerala. International Journal of Innovative Technology and Exploring Engineering, 9(2), 1886–1892.
  • Ghaffarianhoseini, A., Dahlan, N. D., Berardi, U., Ghaffarianhoseini, A., Makaremi, N., & Ghaffarianhoseini, M. (2013). Sustainable energy performances of green buildings: A review of current theories, implementations and challenges. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 25, 1–17.
  • Gupta, N., & Tiwari, G. N. (2016). Review of passive heating/cooling systems of buildings. Energy Science and Engineering, 4(5), 305–333. Handbook, T. (n.d.). Coconut Palm Stem Processing Technical Handbook.
  • Harte, A. M. (2018). Introduction to timber as an engineering material. (April).
  • Hettiarachchi, A., & Emmanuel, R. (2017).” Colour as a psychological agent to manipulate perceived indoor thermal environment for low energy design; cases implemented in Sri Lanka”, Proceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference: Design to Thrive, PLEA 2017, 1(November), 1116–1123.
  • Jain, S. K., Patil, P. G., & Thakor, N. J. (2011). Engineering properties of laterite stone scrap blocks. Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal, 13(3).
  • Kannan, K. M., & Dhanalakshmi, M. (2017). Day lighting analysis of residential fenestration types in warm humid climate. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 8(6), 203–210.
  • Killmann, W., & Fink, D. (1996). Coconut palm stem processing technical handbook. 90–100. Retrieved from
  • Kini, P., Garg, N. K., & Kamath, K. (2017). Exploring Energy Conservation in Office Buildings with Thermal Comfort Criterion Towards Sustainable New Developments in Warm and Humid Climate. Energy Procedia, 111(September 2016), 277–286.
  • Lapisa, R., Bozonnet, E., Abadie, M. O., & Salagnac, P. (2013). Cool roof and ventilation efficiency as passive cooling strategies for commercial low-rise buildings - ground thermal inertia impact. Advances in Building Energy Research, 7(2), 192–208.
  • Looman, R., Cauberg, H., Van Den Dobbelsteen, A., Van Timmeren, A., & Tenpierik, M. (2007). Climate-responsiveness of building elements. Sun, Wind and Architecture - The Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, PLEA 2007, (August 2014), 52–58.
  • Maklur, N., & Narkhede, P. (2018). Study of Laterite Stone as Building Material. International Journal of Engineering Research, 7(special3), 223.
  • Mitigation, D., & Centre, M. (n.d.).2013 Technical Guidelines & Information for Stone Construction In Uttarakhand.
  • National Building Code (2016), Volume 2. Bureau of Indian Standards, 2016.
  • Pawar, H., &Hangargekar, P. (2016). “Integrated approach in building design for passive cooling in hot and dry climates of India”.International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology,2664–2669.
  • Praseeda, K. I., Mani, M., & Reddy, B. V. V. (2014). Assessing impact of material transition and thermal comfort models on embodied and operational energy in vernacular dwellings (India). Energy Procedia, 54, 342–351.
  • Radwan, M. R., Kashyout, A. E.-H. B., Elshimy, H. G., & Ashour, S. F. (2015). Green Building as Concept of Sustainability Sustainable Strategy to Design Office Building. Https://Www.Researchgate.Net/Publication/301216546, (February 2015), 1–18.
  • Rakoto Joseph, O., Garde, F., & Randrianasolo, J. P. (2007). Development of climatic zones and passive design principles in the housing sector for the island of madagascar. ISES Solar World Congress 2007, ISES 2007, 1, 248–252.
  • Roux, A. De. 2015. Climatic building design in warm-humid areas. 1–10.
  • Sarathraj, R. L., & Somayaji, A. K. (2014). Modelling and Analysis of Mangalore Clay Roofing Tile. 3(10), 2014.
  • Sen, R., Kandra, S., & Chattopadhyay, S. (2014). Investigation on the performance of alternative walling materials in an affordable housing unit situated in warm humid climate. 30th International PLEA Conference: Sustainable Habitat for Developing Societies: Choosing the Way Forward - Proceedings, 1(December), 524–531.
  • Sharma, M. (2018). Development of a ‘Green building sustainability model’ for Green buildings in India. Journal of Cleaner Production, 190(2018), 538–551.
  • Singh, M. K., Mahapatra, S., & Atreya, S. K. (2010). Green building design: A step towards sustainable habitat. Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development, 1(1), 257–268.
  • Subramanian C. V. (2016). Daylight and Sustainable Architecture for Warm Humid climate Energy efficient buildings View project. (December 2016). Retrieved from
  • Technology, B. O. F. (2017). PROJECT REPORT “ Estimation on Rat -Trap Bond ” CIVIL ENGINEERING. (130490107013).
  • TERI. (2014). Report on Green Building Initiatives for Affordable Housing Bangalore. Retrieved from HUDCO.pdf
  • Thapa, S., & Kr. Panda, G. (2015). Energy Conservation in Buildings – a Review. International Journal of Energy Engineering, (August), 95–112.
  • Thirumaran, K., & Reshmi, R. (2017). Analyzing Green Building Technologies in Indian Vernacular Architecture : A Case Study of Kerala. International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology, 6(5), 9001–9009.
  • Ullah, Z., Khan, A., & Thaheem, M. J. (2018). Comparison of Performance of Rat Trap Brick Bond. (August).
  • Venkatachalam, L. J., Amirtham, L. R., & C, A. T. (2011). Thermal Comfort Conditions in Naturally Ventilated Low-Rise Apartment Units of Chennai.
  • Wang, N., & Adeli, H. (2014). Sustainable building design. Journal of Civil Engineering and Management, 20(1), 1–10.
  • Yüksek, I., & Karadayi, T. T. (2017). Energy-Efficient Building Design in the Context of Building Life Cycle. Energy Efficient Buildings, (January 2017).
Click Here
To Know More / Contact The Manufacturer
Please fill in your details, we will contact you as soon as possible
Choose Title from the listPlease let us know your name.
Please let us know your Designation.
Invalid Input
Please let us know your email address.
Please let us know your City.
Please let us know your Contact Number.
Please brief your query.
Our other value-added services:

To receive updates through e-mail on Products, New Technologies & Equipment, please select the Product Category(s) you are interested in and click 'Submit'. This will help you save time plus you will get the best price quotations from many manufacturers, which you can then evaluate and negotiate.

Equipment & Machinery
Invalid Input
Building Products
Invalid Input
Invalid Input

How Technology Changed Civil Engineering for The Better

The rapid pace of technological advancement is changing every single aspect of our lives — and all of the industries and sectors in which we work. Consequently, civil engineering is not an exception here. For instance Read More ...

Luxury Homes Staging A Comeback

Ease of purchase, increasing affordability, growing importance of spacious and safe environs of one’s own home due to increased health consciousness, and the trend of homeownership over renting, have all led to the revival Read More ...

Foundation Stability of Existing Buildings near Upcoming Structures

There are several failures of buildings and bridges and other constructed facilities; it is important to learn from these failures so that such catastrophes do not occur in the future (Feld and Carper Read More ...

Fractional Ownership - New Investment Opportunity for Retail Investors

The unique and fast growing real estate marketing concept of ‘Fractional Ownership’ has opened a new, safe, and profitable avenue of investment for retail investors in expensive A-grade office real estate Read More ...

Infrastructure Sector Growth Challenges & Prospects in 2021

Infrastructure, together with real estate and housing, which are key to economic development, were severely hit due to the Corona pandemic; however, there have been many bright spots, especially the progressive policy Read More ...

Real Estate Revival

Various stakeholders such as the government, industry bodies and developers need to come together and think out-of-the-box to lay a roadmap for long-term growth of the real estate sector Read More ...

Survival Challenges for Construction Companies

Though the construction industry, the second largest contributor to GDP, plays a significant role in the country’s economic growth, yet it faces several challenges in realizing its full potential. The Covid-19 pandemic Read More ...

Will it be Springtime for the CE Sector?

As we bid adieu to 2020, the current demand for CE products and services is in a sweet spot; but the sector’s firming up will be critical for ushering in sustainable growth. A lot will depend on the marketing activities Read More ...

Real Estate Year End 2020 Review & Outlook 2021

While 2020 has been an unprecedented year globally, it has been able to create certain unique opportunities for the Real Estate sector that are likely to usher in a new era of innovation and digital transformation Read More ...

Emerging Segments & Trends

From affordable homes to neighbourhood convenience stores, from owning a house to living in gated communities, and to emerging segments like warehousing and logistics, a spate of new trends are gaining traction which Read More ...

India’s Resilient Realty

India’s real estate sector, which had been facing rough weather for the past 2-3 years, was dealt a crippling blow by the Corona pandemic. However, despite the onslaught, the sector has shown great resilience Read More ...

Water Infrastructure Growth Driver of Construction Sector

The Government is keen to accelerate the country’s economic growth momentum through construction projects that provide the much-needed thrust to the beleaguered economy. Through the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) Read More ...

Boosting Border Road Infrastructure

Currently, developing and strengthening the country’s border roads is the topmost priority of the government and the speed of construction is seeing a big leap forward. The Atal Tunnel in Rohtang, which opened recently Read More ...

Need to Reorient Smart Cities Mission to Tackle COVID Challenge

The National Smart City Mission - aimed at upgrading core infrastructure of 100 selected cities through sustainable smart solutions for providing quality life to citizens - is at a critical juncture in the wake of the Read More ...

Technological advancements disrupting the global construction industry

The world’s rapid transformation from manual processes to digital technologies is empowering the construction industry. Construction companies are now provided with unprecedented levels of transparency, choice and convenience Read More ...

KPMG report: Catalysing the National Infrastructure Pipeline – Project India

KPMG releases a report titled, ‘Catalysing the National Infrastructure Pipeline – Project India’, which highlights how India can achieve the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) task force’s investment target. The report Read More ...

Technology Adoption to drive Construction Industry

The construction industry has the potential to adopt high-tech methods and solutions which could lead to a win-win situation for all the stakeholders - customers, contractors, architects, and even the workforce Read More ...

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.