Modern civilizations have cities which are based on modern architecture. Tall Buildings, long bridges, bill-boards etc are the only things that you can see on the street. Even if you are stuck at a traffic signal, if you scan the sight around, you would see skyscrapers and build with bill-boards. Modern building structures are growing vertically as they think that horizontal spaces have run out for the construction of new infrastructure.

Yatin Pandya who is the founder of “Footprints E.A.R.T.H”, an Ahmadabad based architecture firm explains that an average commercial bill-board/ hoarding uses 60 to 120 fluorescent tubes for illumination during the night. The time which is least crowded & people are sleeping in their houses. Climate Activist Architects describe these hoarding as ‘energy-sucking black holes’ because they consume a lot of electricity. The electricity consumed by a single bill-board over one night is enough to light up 300 houses for 3 hours.

To prevent such wastage of energy, Maharashtra Government announced a 10% rebate in fees, if people turned off the lights of their bill-boards at night. However, only a few came forward to take the offer.

Metro Cities like Mumbai & Delhi consume only about 2% of land space of the world, housing 55% of the world’s population and generating the bulk of GHGs (Green House Gases) through apartments, offices, roads and public spaces and destroy ecosystems. Reason? Inefficient infrastructural planning.

Sustainable architect Ashok B Lall believes that tall building and skyscrapers are not the right way to deal with an exploding population and climate change. “We should think horizontally, not vertically. It is a nutty idea that we don’t have enough land. The conventional wisdom suggesting that the way to grow is to grow tall isn’t true.”

A taller building consumes more energy than a 4-storey building. Their construction costs are 25% greater as well. Further, the tall building is a hurdle in the way of using solar energy. A 4-storey building can have better access to sunlight by using 60% of its roof area for installing solar panels, thus meeting 80% of its electricity requirement using solar energy only.

Experts believe that Tier-2 & 3 cities shall understand this concept before they lean towards the sky-scrapers based architecture. Generally, Sky Scrappers have an exterior build of Glasses. Since Indian skies are far clearer, the glass absorbs a lot of heat, creating a greenhouse effect for the people inside the buildings, making them utilize more and more cooling equipment which consumes energy as well as adding to GHG emissions. The reflections from the glass escalate the external temperature around the building and on the streets.

As per an analysis conducted by the India Meteorological Department and the IIT –Madras in 2017, Delhi’s heat index has higher growth rate as compared to the national average, increasing at 0.6 °Celsius per decade in summers and 0.55 °Celsius per decade during monsoons. Who is to be blamed? Flawed architecture. Further, Delhi based NPO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) concluded that Delhi’s summers and monsoons are hotter by 3.6°C and 3.3°C respectively on the heat index as compared to the 1950s.

The Indian government tried to introduce smart & Sustainable architectural design such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for green buildings. However, the corridors of these buildings were dark for no reason and the buildings could be no good without AC, making them inefficient.

If you understand it closely, you’ll see that slums within a city that is the most energy-efficient architectures. However, these are the people who are most affected by Climate Change. They do not have AC to fight the hot summer and have poor sewage system which fails to prevent them from floods during dramatically high rains. Slums are taken as a problem by the government. Whereas in Mumbai, the Slums houses 50% of the city’s population occupying only 10 to 12% of the land.

It brings another problem with itself. The growing population crosses the city boundaries and start living in suburbs to find cheaper places to live. Thus, stretching the cities beyond normal limits. These people need a means of transport to travel between their workplace and residences. As a result, traffic congestion increases on the streets.

In 2017, Mumbai was reported to have 32 lakh cars with Delhi having 1.09 cars on street. The primary reasons for ranking these cities into the top most polluted cities of the world.

The practice of walking to the work has also faded because we have zoned our work areas, entertainment zones & residential areas. Everything is far from each other now and you need transport to move.

As suggested by Prakash, Public transport should be developed to become greener even it costs a little higher. It may not be low costing, but must be low emitting. People should start to switch from car-owning model to Public means of transport. 

We need to learn lessons home architectural designs from the civilizations of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. Houses used to have narrow fronts and long & deep structures at back with internal courtyards. Covering many houses in a single street reducing the need to walk long distances. The buildings used to have proper ventilation with 3 section windows. The same concepts shall be introduced to modern housing too, to make energy-efficient architecture.

People nowadays invest a lot of money in transportation only of the building & construction material. They purchase marble from Italy, furniture from China & whatnot. Imagine the amount of energy wasted in every such thing.

We need to understand the need for the day and make environmentally friendly decisions which will help us create a greener tomorrow. Even if it costs us change in our daily lifestyle, infrastructural and architectural changes.