Let me share in very simple common man’s terms, what I mean by Sustainable design. Let me take the help of geometry to explain my point. How will we define a straight line? The distance between two points, isn’t it? Which means the two points are apart! Which means that
The beginning of the line is in one place and the end of the line is in another place. That is a straight line.
What happens when a line becomes a circle ?
When the end becomes the beginning – you get a cyclical process!
The difference between linear systems and cyclical systems is that linear systems are not in sync with nature because the beginning and the end are far apart. To give an example of a linear system from production or manufacturing or construction – You input material and labor at one end of the line. The material and the labor goes through a process and at the other end of the line, you have the finished product, pollution and waste. This is a linear system which is definitely not in sync with nature.
When you have a cyclical system the waste of one process becomes the wealth of the next process. Hence it is in sync with nature.
Sustainable buildings are those which are in sync with Nature. To share an example with you – this is one of the buildings that I have created in Pondicherry which has been selected by the United Nations Environment program as a model for sustainable development in India. How we designed this entire complex was – We did a topographical survey of the entire site and the point which was at the lowest contour we dug it out and created a pit like this. We removed soil from there and with that soil that came out of that little reservoir we built the entire complex spanning several acres.
Which means you avoided transportation, you avoided energy guzzling materials like steel and cement, you built the entire complex out of unfired unbaked earth.
You took earth out from a reservoir to build the building. The water that falls on the roof of that building flows back to the reservoir. Which means there is a cyclical process of earth and water.
If all our buildings, if all our products are able to follow cyclical systems we are in sync with nature.