HOK’s Varun Kohli Advocates for a More Sustainable Built Ecology
Varun Kohli, sustainable design leader in HOK’s New York office and an advisory board member for Architect and Interiors India Magazine, has written an opinion piece encouraging the building industry in India to work together toward a new paradigm for sustainable development.
“Buildings (through energy consumption) contribute a huge fraction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that is causing climate change. Various studies suggest anywhere from 35-50 percent of emissions are attributable to buildings. We (architects, engineers, designers, builders) have a huge stake and impact in reducing emissions. Compound that with the fact that in the recent past and, more importantly, in the coming years, maximum development in the built environment will occur in emerging economies such as India. The more inefficient our buildings, the more coal fired power plants will be built or, worse, millions of diesel generators will darken our city skies.”
“Why not bring together our community thinkers, designers and builders and take the challenge head on? Let us pledge to do everything we can to mitigate harmful emissions to our environment and do so with all sincerity. Every project we work on counts, no matter how small. Let us all go above and beyond the standard sustainability certification goals and truly assess a given project’s impact on GHG emissions—not only from its operations, but also from embodied energy of the materials used and from construction activities. Reach out to leaders beyond our industry and find ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Engage with peers in the international arena and together devise effective strategies to combat harmful emissions. Go a step beyond and conserve the vital natural resources and reduce waste.”
As a new special economic zone outside of Pune, Khed SEZ is envisioned to be a world-class community for scientific innovation and sustainability.
“The first challenge in achieving any goal is being able to clearly define what those goals are and set clear metrics for incremental achievements. In the USA, the American Institute of Architects has adopted the AlA2030 commitment which aims at carbon neutrality in all new developments by 2030. With that goal in place, enrolled firms track their projects for projected energy savings and compare with established Energy Use Index (EUT) based on building typology and climatic location. Many cities such as New York have set their own GHG reduction targets.”
At Kempegowda International Airport’s Bengalaru Terminal 1, the overhang and use of low-e glazing reduces heat gain to create a high-performance, LEED Gold structure.
“These quick examples and processes outlined above are meant to emphasize how we need the collective strength of our industry and community to align ourselves with the larger goals set out by COP21 and make a real mark in GHG emissions reduction. Together, we can lead the world in a new paradigm for sustainable development. Our community should come together to create a better, brighter, cleaner, healthier and more beautiful built ecology that is in harmony with our natural environment.”