Doing my bit

By Ar. Pratishtha Pandey

‘Climate Change’, the two words weighing heavy in debates and discussions. From scientists roaring the catastrophic negatives to politicians ignoring the phenomenon altogether, it has been a topic of conversation for activists and for idles. We seem to talk a lot about a matter that affects the collective, but as individuals what are we doing? Well, primarily waiting and counting on policy changes while the last few grains in the hourglass drip to the bottom. I find myself trying to understand what’s happening with the world and what’s to come in climate reports. Most of the time, I am criticizing the absence of consciousness, measures, actions, and results… I catch myself! Wait, what am I doing to cut an item, any item from this endless list? And when the question arises, I fall back onto my profession and my passion for buildings and the environment.

As an architecture student, I studied buildings. I learned how the environment shapes a space, how people experience it, the elements of a building, the art, the science, and the impact. Buildings contribute to 28% of the total GHG emissions; now that’s quite a margin for improvement! Here, being a designer gives me the opportunity to be a change-maker, and nudge the impact in a positive direction.

‘Net-Zero Energy’ and ‘Green Buildings’ are the keywords in the book of sustainability. There is a science that guides the sensitive decision-making which realizes these words into reality, the complexity of which can be defined as the willingness to acknowledge one’s responsibility to the resources from which we take. It is simply minimizing wastage; by using as required: heating, cooling, lighting, and water. It means borrowing from the resources: letting the daylight filter through the windows, the winds travel through the spaces, using solar or maybe wind energy to generate electricity.

All these aspects manifest themselves in design as creative problem-solving. And that is where I believe I have a role to play. The work cut out is not crunching numbers on excel sheets to calculate efficiency or sitting in front of the computer screen running simulations. It is the consciousness to choose different, better and the persistence to do it every single time.

However, when I think about it, a designer is not the only stakeholder involved. Among buyers, 50% have a vague understanding of the green building concept with 40% of them having the wrong idea about the implied benefits, investments, and cost savings. In contrast, developers have more knowledge about green buildings with 80% of them being well-informed about the concept. With no mandatory standards in place, some developers choose not to use green buildings due to regulatory concerns. While others shy away due to market concerns, the primary reason behind reluctance in the implementation of green buildings emerges in the complexity of the information and guidelines. These stakeholders find the process of acquiring green building certification difficult to understand and follow. Thus, rendering the tools for implementation rather inaccessible.

Therefore, I realize that it is not just about being educated but also to educate. Doing my bit is not just action but also the journey to the results that catalyze impact. In this respect, being a change-maker is just walking on the journey with a collective, for the collective.

Ar. Pratishtha Pandey is interested in building science and energy efficiency. The building sector is responsible for 36% of the energy demand and she believes that it is the professionals in the building industry’s responsibility to recognize and reduce the negative impacts of urban development. She aims to approach architecture in a manner that is sensitive toward the environment and attached to its purpose of serving society.

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