Examples of sustainability in ancient India as mentioned in NBC :

The ancient Vedas have several references in them on environmental protection, ecological balance, weather cycle, rainfall phenomenon, hydrological cycle and related subjects.

changes caused due to indiscreet human activities could result in imbalances in seasons, rainfall patterns, crops
and atmosphere and degrade the quality of water, air, and earth resources.

Basham, in ‘The Wonder that was India’, describes how palaces in Mauryan dynasty in second century B.C., were exquisitely built from carved wood of local deodars. 

In later years the monasteries, temples and dharmashalas were built with locally available stones and these have withstood the ravages of time. 

Edwin Arnold, in ‘The Light of Asia’, describes Vishramvan,
the palace built with local marble and alabaster for prince Siddharth.

The epic Mahabharata describes palace built by Vishwakarma. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi was built more than a thousand years ago. Many other ancient monuments in various parts of India are classic examples of sustainable buildings. 

The Taj Mahal, built more than four hundred years ago, can accommodate hundreds of people with no suffocation,
as the stone jalis in the facia induce air movement and enable natural ventilation.

The fort in Mandu has elaborate rainwater harvesting techniques.

Havelis in northern India were invariably built around a central courtyard, which brought daylight to all nooks and corners, but the heat was kept out.

Many forts and havelis have elaborate
provision for evaporative cooling, using khas-screens and rainwater stored at higher plateaus.

 Sustainability and
sustainable buildings have been the way of life in India.

Diverse climatic conditions in our country resulted in evolution of different fabrics
of built form, with the commonality being the focus on harmony with nature. 

It becomes obvious to see why all the
scriptures, literature, life styles and cultural ethos made reference to the Panchabhoothas, which represent five
elements of nature, thus blending the architecture and habitats with nature.

 Thus, sustainability, and sustainable
buildings have been the way of life in India.


industrial revolution came to India and changed many of these traditional sustainable practices in Indian buildings. 

The insatiable thirst for progress and comfort at any cost, altered the equation with
nature forever. 

Concrete, steel, glass and later plastics became the dominant construction materials, beyond stone and wood of yesteryears. 

Power supply, artificial lighting, water supply and disposal, and thermal environmental control within built environment, were desired and obtained.

The new civilizations grew along the river banks, always regarding rivers as sacred. With the industrial revolution, untreated water, effluents from chemical industries and organic waste were discharged into rivers and water bodies, destroying our precious sources of water for domestic use.

 In addition, the unsustainable development and usage of buildings have led to huge construction and demolition waste, and municipal solid waste during their operation, which today have become a major problem.

Modern buildings in India consume about 25 to 30 percent of total energy, and up to 30 percent of fresh potable water, and generate approximately 40 percent of total waste. 

Sustainable buildings have demonstrated reduction in energy and water consumption to less than half of the present consumption in conventional buildings and complete elimination of the construction and operational waste through recycling. 
The Indian way of life is Aparigraha (minimum possession), conservation (minimum consumption) and recycling (minimum waste). These three attributes are the guiding principles for sustainable buildings as well. 

Developed nations’ approach to sustainability generally concentrates on energy efficiency through high technology innovations, and use of products, materials and designs with lower embodied energy. Their green ratings are based on intent, which implies expert inputs and simulation which often can be counter intuitive such as the envisaged load and effective use of energy efficient appliance. Indian construction industry will do better through use of products, materials and designs with lower embodied energy and our traditional wisdom and practices, building in harmony with nature through regional common knowledge, consuming as little as necessary, applying low cost technology innovations, using recycled materials, and recognizing performance (not intent) through easily measurable parameters, wherever feasible. If required, the above approach may be supplemented with an appropriate blend of the emerging and sustainable technology innovations.

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