A chip of the old block – Collection from Hindu Articles.

Wood plastic composite panels are made from wood waste and plastic and offering substitute to wood
Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

Feel of wood: Wudplas products are a fine substitute for real wood and are eco-friendly. Wood is an indispensable aspect of construction material but concerns have been getting more and more vocal over the forest cover dwindling to cater the ever-increasing needs. However, here is a product that seeks to find a solution to this concern yet address the requirement. Wood plastic composite panels are made from wood waste and plastic and offering substitute to wood. The city-based Kinetic Wudplas (Ph.27267648) showcased wide and varied products from these panels at the 7th Green Building Congress-2009 which attracted the attention of many. The company assures that the design flexibility and workability of wood is retained by this eco-friendly product which resemble wood in ‘every conceivable property and application’. The properties as suggested the manufacturer include excellent thermal properties saving on airconditioning, good acoustics, termite resistant, water resistant, non-toxic, does not warp or shrink and also its opaque nature does not allow UV degradation of plastic even in outdoor use. From flooring, outdoor decking, wall cladding to panels, roofing and even a dog house, the product can be put to use. In furniture, Kinetic Wudplas has various seating facilities from recliners to benches which could also be used outdoors without any fear of damage from elements. T.Lalith Singh, Hyderabad

When the wells run dry….
Harvest rainwater and help improve groundwater table
Photo: R.M.Rajarathinam

Making a difference: Using rain water harvesting to protect the source. We know the worth of water, when the wells go dry — Benjamin Franklin said that a couple of hundred years ago.

Meet R. Balasubramaniyan, living in the leafy suburb of Vidyaranyapura, Bangalore. He built his house in 1995 and since no water was made available by the city utility for the construction, he had a well dug in his house. Arumugham, the well digger, not only located the point for the well but also dug it with a team and struck water at about 40 feet. The well served the household as did the other wells in the neighbourhood till the year 2001 when due to bad rains all the wells dried up. Most of the neighbours closed their wells since by this time the city water utility piped network had come to the homes. Not Mr. Balasubramaniyan, he kept the well going even without water till one day he read about rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge. With a bit of scouting around, he found that it was pretty much a simple affair. All he had to do was to get the water from the roof to his well, put a filter and let the filtered water into the well. He got busy organising this and did it in about a week’s time. The next rain brought copious water to the well and pretty soon the water table had risen. Now he has enough water from the well and does not need the utility supply at all even through summer. Every time it rains, he can hear the satisfying sound of rainwater getting into his well. He just wishes that his neighbours had followed his path. In a city that is short of water, a new bye-law has been introduced which makes rainwater harvesting mandatory before a connection is given by the city water utility. As early as June 5, 2004, a building byelaw made it mandatory for new buildings beyond 100 square metre plinth area or plot area of more than 200 square metres. Building plan approvals and completion certificates are given only if this is practised. Even without the laws, citizens like Mr. Balasubramaniyan are showing that rainwater harvesting can make a difference in their lives as well as ease the water shortage of the city. S.VISHWANATH, Bangalore.

Avoid pests the organic way
Neem cake and solution can replace chemical pesticides due to their eco-friendly properties

Back to basics: When it comes to organic farming, the value and importance of neem as a pesticide, cannot be undermined. In these days when the stress is growing foodgrains sans chemicals, one cannot but emphasise the importance of organic farming. And when it comes to organic cultivation, one cannot underestimate the invaluable contribution of Ajadirachta indica or the neem tree. Neem cake and solution are being widely used to replace chemical fertilizers, due to their eco-friendly properties. Neem products are especially favoured because they apply ‘discretion’ in their ‘execution’.

While neem does not kill the pest , it plays a key role in altering the metabolic processes in the pest , thereby repelling it successfully. At the same time, it does not kill or drive away harmless insects such as bees and butterflies which help in pollination and reproduction. On the other hand, “chemical pesticides, when used over a period of time, make the pests immune to their impact, thereby causing largescale damage. It is not the case with neem products,” says M.Anantha Reddy, chairman of the Agri-Horticultural Society. Neem cake, a good source of nitrogen, doubles as fertilizer too. While containing the spread of termites, it also meets the nutritional requirements of the plant. Neem cake is obtained after extraction of oil from neem leaves and seeds. Spraying Neem solution should be sprayed to the underside of the leaves to curb insect infestation. Neem oil is widely available in the market in various concentrations. All we have to do is to follow the instructions on the product to make a solution. The usual dosage is five millilitres of oil per a litre of water. “Alternatively, one can make a home remedy of neem solution. A kilogram of neem cake soaked in five litres of water for a whole week will yield a good solution of foliage spray. It can also be pot-fed to the plant. The residue left after straining the solution can be mixed in the soil for nutrition,” says V.B.Joshi, also from the society. Alternately, neem pods crushed and soaked in water will also yield an equally effective solution. Neem solution mixed in chemical pesticide will help moderate the harmful effects of the latter. SWATHI V Hyderabad

Low flow options to save water
Cost efficient plumbing fixtures are available, writes Anupama Mohanram

Securing water resources and judicious use of water has become imperative and there is no better place to begin this than at home. An average family of 5 consumes about 24 tankers of potable water per year for flushing, bathing and washing and lets out that much waste water to be treated and disposed of or hopefully, recycled. A number of water saving plumbing fixtures such as low flow taps and flushes are currently available in the market that can help save water use in h ouseholds. This translates to significant cost savings and can contribute to the well being of the society. Taps and shower heads Conventional taps and shower heads have flow rates upwards of 12 litres/minute at the standard 3 bar water pressure. Some taps/showers even deliver flow rates as high as 20 litres/minute. While people tend to

look for high flow rates for home use, this results in enormous wastage of potable water. Low flow options are currently available as excellent alternatives to obtain water savings. Most of these low flow taps and shower heads have in-built aerators that help reduce the water flow. In addition, flow regulators can be opted for and installed to cut down flow rates. Flow regulators can cut down water flow to various predetermined rates as required, to as low as 2.5 litres/minute in taps, and to as low as 6 litres/minute in showerheads at the standard 3 bar water pressure.

The estimated continuous tap and shower use time in a household of 5 is at the least, about 50 minutes/day for showering, washing hands and utensils. Using the conventional tap flow rate of 12litres/minute, this translates to water use from taps/showers of 600 litres/day/household. By using taps and showers with a lower flow rate of 8 litres/minute this consumption would be reduced to 400 litres/day leading to water savings of 33%. On an annual basis this could translate to water savings of 73,000 litres/year/household. . Assuming that flow regulators are installed on 8 taps in typical household of 5, an expenditure of Rs.2,000/will result in savings of Rs.6,000/-per year using the average prevailing rate of a water tanker load in the city, resulting in a payback period of 4 months. Water closets The estimated water usage for flushing in a household of 5 is about 200 litres/day using a conventional flush closet. By using dual flush closets this can be substantially reduced. Currently two options are available: closets with a 6 litres or 3 litres per flush and closets with a 4 litres or 2 litres per flush, the latter being more water efficient. By using a 6/3 dual flush, the consumption will be reduced to 75 litres/day resulting in water savings of 62.5%. By using a 4/2 dual flush, such as manufactured by Parryware and Cera, this consumption will be reduced to 50 litres/day; resulting in water savings of 75 per cent. On an annual basis, a 4/2 flush will result in water savings of 54,750 litres/year/household when compared to the conventional flush. Although a 4/2 dual flush system could cost from Rs.11,250 for 3 closets in the household, the cost of water saved due to this can translate to Rs.4,500 per year using a minimum rate of Rs.1,000 per water tanker load in the city, resulting in a 2.5 year payback period. Other low flow options Although priced higher than the low flow option above, push taps, soft touch and sensor based taps are further options to provide lower water flow rates. Push taps provide a water flow of 0.9 litres/push and its auto close mechanism with a built in control clock ensures minimal wastage of water. Soft touch and sensor based taps are electronically controlled either by light touch or by motion sensors. For a typical household of 5, water savings from use of dual flush and low flow taps and shower heads can be equated to saving at least 10 water tanker loads per year (12,000 litres per tanker). For a mid-sized multi-family apartment complex of about 60 residential units, this can be equated to saving 600 tankers of water per year for the complex. Being conscious of and sensitive to the availability of potable water will further help to cut down water consumption and ensure water security for future generations. The author is a LEED AP and green building consultant. www.greenevolution.in

Tiny lights on the floor
Slim, sleek and rugged, Eyeleds enable lighting options that are relatively new to the Indian psyche

Aesthetically designed: Eyeleds can be used on concrete floors. After the granites, marbles, vitrified and wooden floor concepts in teasing varieties, there’s now a sparkling add-on to floor you further. The LED lighting system, a series of miniature lighting, mainly adorns the floor and extends itself for both functional and aesthetic purposes in many other ways. With Cosmo Floor (flooring solutions provider) launching the ‘Eyeleds’ range of the LED lighting system, not a commonly known concept yet in India, the lighting package offers choices in design and functional flexibilities for both interior and exterior applications. “Eyeleds offer energy-efficient functional lighting solutions for areas where traditional lighting fixtures have limitations. They are futuristic, multifunctional, easy to install and most importantly green, due to their energy saving capabilities,” says D. Venkaatesh, Managing Director, Cosmo Floor. The Eyeleds range comprises of Interiors, Power Eye, Colour Eye (colour changing LEDs), Outdoor Professional (garden and landscape architecture) and Quartz (for textured flooring). The LEDs, all of 6.5 mm in size, are miniscule and sit endearingly on the ground in round and square shapes and also work as Guiding lights (Direction LEDs) for interior and exterior needs. Adds Venkaatesh, “The compact, super flat LED lighting products are designed for easy installation in virtually any type of flooring. Uncomplicated in its looks and working, fitting them does not require a certified electrician. Even a building-products trade professional or even the Eyeleds instruction manual with pictures would be handy enough for a consumer. The trim ring of the Eyeleds luminaire recesses only 6.5mm into a tiny gap, drilled through the surface of the floor and the thin wiring easily installs under carpet, hardwood or in the cement bed under the tile flooring.” Aesthetically designed, Eyeleds can be used on concrete floors (natural stone, marble, granite), laminate & wooden floors, carpet, and outdoors (garden, landscape, pavement). They can also be installed in furniture, staircases, veranda, pathways to produce special lighting effects. “Eyeleds guide lights can be used in dangerous staircases, narrow alley or in any outdoor surface,” contends Venkaatesh. Says Interior Designer, Dinesh Gowda, “LED lighting needn’t be considered just as being decorative additions. It could be a boon to children taking the stairs at night, or can even prove to be a safe guide to the elderly in a foyer, helping people to usher in easily without having to switch on the normal lights, as LED can be left switched on for longer hours. The aesthetic angle comes through brilliantly in areas as dining, and strategic placements could mimic a candle-light dinner!” Marking pathways Outdoor usage needs no explanations, for, the lights there serve as a safety marking, directing people to take the exact pathways, especially in huge bungalows, explains Venkaatesh. He goes on to explain that the tiny lights are powerful with a lifespan of 100.000 hours and can withstand a weight up to 285 kgs. The international standard followed in its manufacture makes it resistant towards

water and dust and is a green product due to its low energy consumption. A round fitting uses only 0.3W, the square version 0.6W and the PowerEye approximately 1W. This energy saving lighting system that comes with a three-year product warranty, needs to be fitted just as the floor is being installed. Due to its low profile design, there is no need for sub-floor adjustments or preparations prior to installation. The 1.2mm thin, low voltage wiring allows for easy integration under the floor where the LED unit is installed into. Special, optional install boxes and cable conduits, designed for sub-floors, provide optimal protection against cable damage. “Eyeleds, having established a significant presence in Europe will have customers witness a new standard of elegance in surface lighting. Architects, contractors, and designers will have increased design flexibility combined with ease of installation,” concurs Venkaatesh. The price for Eye Leds ranges from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 15000. They are available at Cosmo Floor, at 2nd phase, J.P. Nagar. Call 080- 32917943. Ranjani Govind, Bangalore.

Dark as a car shed? Well, car sheds need not be dingy and dark at all. A look at this car shed in V. Venkatakrishnan‘s house off Lloyd’s road will tell you how. Concrete has been restricted to the pillars and beams of this 30 by 20 square feet car shelter, which lies right in front of the house. K. Ravinder, who has erected this structure has used translucent polycarbonate sheets for the roofing, supported at the base by 2X1 inch steel sections screwed into the pillar (by anchor fastener bolts), and at the top by 2 inch Aluminium sections, all of which are held together by self-drilling screws. Concrete is less expensive than steel supports, so steel supports have been used minimally. Complete fabrication of such a structure costs around Rs. 250/sq feet. Employing PVC or FRB sheet based structures is less expensive, but this structure is almost doubly durable, non-fading and will not become brittle with heat from the sun. For additional measure, the roofing is not flat either. It slopes up and down. Besides giving visual relief, this sloping pattern adds to the vertical space in the shed, creating an airy, luminous and dry enclosure, a far cry from the mustiness associated with car sheds. The fact that the kitchen that is located directly behind the car shed is awash with light underlines the effectiveness of the design. HEMA VIJAY

Designing houses to suit needs of senior citizens
The main difference between retirement homes and conventional houses is in the amenities provided
Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

For comfortable living: Covai Property Centre’s ‘Old Age Home’ project – ‘Soundaryam’: The project has 24-hour security, a recreation centre, common kitchen, library, television, card room, open air theatre, and round-the-clock medical centre with a paramedic stationed at the home itself — Houses specially designed for senior citizens are not new to Coimbatore. The city already has some residential projects for senior citizens and more are on the anvil.

The main difference between retirement homes and conventional houses is in the amenities provided, says Omkar Sankar, secretary of the Coimbatore Property Developers’ Association. Retirement homes can be individual houses in gated communities or apartments. The two main models are: those that are sold and maintained as senior citizen homes (where only citizens above a specific age reside though there may be no age restriction for those who buy the property) and those that are given out on long lease to senior citizens. The typical value-added facilities available in these projects are reading rooms, round-the-clock security, water softening plants, uninterrupted power supply and maintenance services. Since all the residents are senior citizens, it is essential to have inhouse medical facilities available on all days of the week, throughout the year. Most of these projects also have lounges for yoga and meditation. Domestic help, laundry service and maintenance services should also be available always. In addition, professional services such as legal and financial consulting, alarm hooters and community halls can be provided. These houses are usually designed with access ramps to common facilities, wider doorways, extra lighting, larger lifts, and centrally-located common amenities. Normally, anti-skid tiles are used for flooring and grab rails are provided in the rest rooms. A common kitchen with dining facility is preferred by the residents. In Chennai, apartments for the elderly are specially designed with larger ramps and lifts. Extra rest rooms are provided in the common areas and normally the residents prefer to have a larger green space in these projects. Senior citizens were 6.8 per cent of the population in 1991 and the number is expected to go up to nine per cent by 2016. A number of these citizens prefer independent living. They need a secure residential facility. Hence, the demand for retirement homes (gated communities and apartments) is increasing. These houses should be affordable to the senior citizens. High land cost within city limits is one reason why some of these projects come up on the outskirts in Coimbatore, he says. M.Soundariya Preetha,Coimbatore.

Go in for a dry wall
It is lighter than traditional walls and is designed to provide a high acoustic performance

New trend: Installing a Drywall is a simple task and painting it can be done in no time. Saint-Gobain Gyproc, which is the Indian module of Saint-Gobain Group, is looking to enter the Indian market with Drywall and Acoustic Ceiling solutions. Drywall is a relatively new concept in India. The gypsum plasterboard- based solution reduces the complications faced in normal masonry constructions. Drywall is

lighter than its traditional version and is designed to provide a high acoustic performance, something the normal wall fails to accomplish. There are three main components in a Drywall: the gypsum plaster boards, studs (which hold the plasterboard together) and the specially designed Drywall screws. The installation procedure is simple and requires limited specialisation and technical knowhow. Drywalls can be used in offices, hospitals, residential complexes and schools. John Nelson, Global Marketing Manager, Saint-Gobain Gyproc, U.K. said, “Drywalls are known the world over. When it comes to construction costs, Drywalls would be a value proposition for anyone.” Drywalls also simplify processes such as wiring or adding a new switch board. Since they are made from plaster they can be easily cut and the switchboard placed. Even painting on these walls can be done immediately as the manufacture of these walls does not involve water, so there is no drying period. The company’s acoustic ceilings are marketed under the brand name Ecophon. They are designed to reduce decibel levels. Frans Davidson, Saint Gobain Ecophon, Sweden, said, “Acoustic requirements play a major role while designing a certain space. Ecophon’s mission is to contribute to a good working environment for the ear and the mind. The right room design and the right building material go hand in hand while delivering the right room acoustics.” ARJUN GANESH Bangalore

Making an aesthetic statement
Provision is made for natural light to wash the interiors and give ventilation, writes Nrithya Ranganathan

Innovative: A view of Balakrishnan’s terrace and entrance gardens. K.V. Balakrishnan’s residence in Poonamallee opens out and draws the outside in. Designed by Murali Architects, this interesting house allows for natural light to wash the interiors and provides for good ventilation. The house leads you to a double height living room which ensures a natural draft through a venturi effect. Apart from this functional relation with the natural elements, it also consciously makes an aesthetic expression of its relation. The exterior stone cladding as much as it helps to keep the inside cool also gives it a robust visual quality. Pergolas, Terrace gardening and landscaping at various levels, extends this approach further and makes the house look as it is inside a garden.

The landscaping of terrace and gardens includes a wide variety of plant materials such as plumeria-white, pink ulba yellow, red and lantana varieties of creepers and has been designed with the care for minimum maintenance.

Many tend to build houses with exhaustive storage spaces risking the living spaces look dark, heavy, and swallowed up. Architect Vikram provides a simple and creative solution to enliven such dark interiors. A layer of 5mm float glass (stuck with white film at its back) on the plywood shutters completely turns around the dark, wenge veneer space in Prakash's house at Kalakshetra colony. The glass is stuck over 12mm thick plywood shutters, with the thickness of the framing edges of the shutter being 17mm, so that the surface of the entire shutter is at the same level. STORAGE SPACES: Taking the heaviness off it. The glass is held in place with double side sticking tape and beading too, to ensure that there is no vibration when the shutters are moved. The beading also serves to camouflage the chipped edges in the glass. Instead of float glass, ceramic-coated glass could be used for superior finish, but the cost is about seven times higher. HEMA VIJAY

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