Much of the environmental damage that we are talking of today began the moment we started looking at buildings as non-entities. We simply didn’t understand that buildings are living energy systems, living entities. They need walls that breathe just as we do. They need light and warmth streaming in for an enlivened atmosphere within. They need water sources to keep the groundwater table gurgling. They want green patches and neighbours that fly, walk and crawl. They want much more because they live longer than the people that build them.
Alas, we forgot all this and began priding ourselves on inventing concrete and an endless stream of toxic materials and called them “marvelous inventions”. We rendered the indoor air toxic, but thought that was a natural byproduct of all things ‘scientific’. We forgot that we need to let our homes live first if we have to breathe easy inside. Worse still, we forgot that architecture is the only functional art and it takes more than brick and mortar to build a home! It takes some soul-searching, nothing less.
But given the way the building sector is contributing to the ecological damage by consuming over 50 per cent of the total fossil fuel energy, “soul-searching” is perhaps preposterous, far-fetched, and totally out of sync with anything called ‘development’.
Whether we dig deeper to find answers to such nettling questions or not, Mother Earth continues to hurt. Unless we acknowledge that even a grain of sand carries with it a history of millions of years and that each energy component that goes into building a home needs thoughtful consideration so that it does not become a drain on earth’s resources like forests, riverbeds, lakes and ponds, going ‘green’ will remain a silly catchphrase of little consequences.
Is there a way out of this charade? Yes. One assured way to approach a solution is to think deep before we dig the earth to lay foundation for a building—be it homes or commercial establishments.