Managing a bore well to ensure long life – Collection from Hindu Articles.

Ensure that there is no wastewater infiltration, writes S.Vishwanath A borewell in every house and apartment seems to be the motto of our cities. With irregular and short water supply from city networks and no water made available for construction purpose, borewells have become a necessity for providing supplemental water. Understanding how to manage a borewell is, therefore, very important to ensure its long life and to ensure a trouble-free service. Ask for the log sheet from the borewell driller including soil strata information, depth of the borewell, the number of fissures met, depth of static water level, depth and type of casing installed and steady water yield based on a pump test. A good driller will make available this information to all well owners. Keep this information safely for later use. A recommendation on the type and capacity of the pump to be installed will come from the driller. An over-capacity pump will cause intermittent pumping and will not result in best performance of the borewell. Keep the information details of the pump installed and the depth at which it is placed. Install a separate electricity meter, circuit breakers and a water meter on the borewell. Take monthly readings of both the water meter and the electricity meter. This will enable you to calculate the cost of water per kilo-litre from the borewell. Test the quality of water from the borewell at the time of drilling and regularly at least once in six months. Water quality testing should be from a BIS-accredited laboratory and should be with regard to parameters identified under BIS 10500. Keep an eye on nitrate levels, TDS levels and micro-biological contamination. These indicate contamination from sewage or wastewater. Ensure that there is no water logging near the borewell, no leaks in the pumpset and pipes and no wastewater infiltration close to the borewell. Ensuring non-contamination of borewell is important if the quality of the water is to be maintained for potable use. Avoid leakage Taking care of inspection chambers and sewage lines and ensuring that there is no blockage or leakage will prevent the contamination of groundwater. Blocked manholes and leaking pipes outside the site should be promptly reported and the matter pursued till action is taken by the authorities concerned. Rainwater and stormwater drainage or recharge systems should be properly designed and maintained so that no water accumulation occurs near the borewell. Electrical lines and systems should be leak proof and of the best material and should be regularly checked so that there is no leakage or short circuit. A well-designed rainwater recharge system will ensure that the fall in water level because of drawal of water through the borewell is compensated through recharge and also will improve the quality of groundwater. A borewell provides water security and a priceless commodity. Being waterwise is to recognise sources of water that we depend on and take steps to ensure their sustainability. , , , Ph: 080-23644690


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Beat the heat Reflective tiles help keep the roof cool Cool and pretty: These white tiles make for aesthetics too. To understand it best, take a barefoot walk on this roof at 2 p.m. when the sun is at its fiercest best. As you stroll around, place your palm on the granite topped, short pillar. Your hands encounter burning heat. As for your feet, they feel no heat, as it would be inside the house. The secret: V. Venkatakrishnan has laid the terrace of his house with heat resistant tiles. At Rs. 50 per square foot, it sounds like an expensive proportion, but as the tiles neither retain heat nor allow heat to sink through them, the dwelling directly beneath the terrace (which is normally a stiflingly hot living space), feels quite cool, and the room temperature here is at least 8 degree Celsius less than the ambient temperature. There is no sensation of radiation inside this living space. This means that you could save up to 40 per cent of your air conditioning charges or perhaps do away with air conditioners altogether. The tiles are constituted with cement and materials with infrared resistive properties. The white colour of these tiles makes for sophisticated aesthetics too. Spacescape Just a month back, it was just a regular, barely-used backside balcony atop the kitchen in the ground floor, until S. Kesavan decided to make it a useful ‘inside’ space. The first need was walls for privacy. But rather than enclosing this space with solid walls for gaining privacy and security, Kesavan opted for cement grills. The advantage of cement grills over iron grills is that, for one thing, cement grills are rust proof. The slant in the detailing of the cement grills ensures that while rain slides outside and is kept away, light pours inside. Besides, because of the slant, while the person inside can view the world outside, the person outside will not be able to view the space inside. Just a word of caution here, each square foot of cement grill weighs at least four or five kg, so make sure that the balcony can take the weight of the jaali walls and the new ceiling. This five feet by seven and half feet space was given rustic red-oxide flooring. Add perhaps a harmonious wooden recliner here, and with light filtering in dreamily through the jaali walls, this space now makes for a great refuge for peaceful reading or relaxed contemplation, or if desired, for even a laundry room.

Tackling radiation from roof Exfoliated Vermiculite Grade can give an helping hand, writes N. Anand For those who have complains about heat radiation, thinking how to reduce it, Exfoliated Vermiculite Grade gives a helping hand. It acts like a best thermal insulator and hence an ideal substitute than any other weathering course material; cold face insulator; fire proof material, water leakage arrester and insulation fill for homes.


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Developed by Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd (TAMIN), exfoliated Vermiculite is a non-metallic versatile material available in five grades from 12 mm to below 1 mm. The first three grades are used in building activities, grade-IV in horticultural or agricultural activities and grade-V in bio-technological activities. N.R. Kamala, TAMIN, General Manager, Industrial Units explained that Vermiculite is a hydrated lamellar mica group of minerals. When heated to a high degree of temperature, it exfoliates and expands 8 to 14 times in volume and yields exfoliated Vermiculite by loss of water molecules. “It replaces the conventional method of weathering. All that one has to do is to tell your mason to add grade I or grade III of exfoliated Vermiculite in the ratio of 1:1 with cement. The mix should be in semi-solid condition. Apply the mix on the walls or on the ceiling. To make it popular, we are selling at Rs 6.5-7.5 per kg (excluding VAT),” she said. She further adds that some of the private contractors have used Exfoliated Vermiculite in their buildings and it has resulted in drop in room temperature by nearly 5 degrees compared to the outside temperature. Besides, it resulted in saving electricity costs, had less load bearing on structures, cost effective and fuel in conservation. The grade-IV material is a light weight compound for terrace garden and booster to soil health. It requires less watering, retains moisture and nutrients, improves soil aeration, and improves drought tolerance among other things. Grade-V reduces usage of chemical fertilisers, reduces bulk density in soil, increases hydraulic conductivity in soil, increases porosity in soil, gives maximum yield and fetches more revenue. To have the wilderness effect Rocks can be used to great visual effect to produce the feeling of wilderness, says Hema Vijay

Rocky beauty: The tree sports rough sandpaper like leaves. Try breaking through into a rock. We can, of course, blast it into bits with dynamite or drill through it electrically, but channeling a slender needle space into it is a tough job. Imagine doing it with your finger or toe tips. On the other hand, plants manage this with élan; root tips do it routinely, their fragile appearances notwithstanding. The curious fact about this is, roots often bore into the tiny cracks and crevices on rocks without breaking the rock apart. Wilderness does have a lot of lessons on display for ‘civilised’ society. Metaphors apart, how do those slender roots manage it? Root tips secrete certain acids which dissolve the rock at the point of contact. Talk about focused action!


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And since rocks are so reminiscent of untamed nature, rockery can be used to great effect to bring in the feel of the wilderness. Choose a porous rock or one with a coarse surface, with interesting, but untouched looks. This 22-inch tall, 3-year-old creek sand paper tree raised by Bhagwan Sarathy is in the rock clinging style (ishe- zuke) of bonsai. To get started, first visualise the looks of trees growing in the mountains and hills. Select a plant with long roots and drape a portion of the exposed roots of the plant over a sturdy rock kept protruding from the soil in a shallow clay tray. Cover it with peat muck, or a thick paste of moss and soil. If required, use a metal gauze (that allows the peat muck to breathe) to hold the peat muck firmly around the roots draped over the rock. Then what? Patience. In a few months, the roots will begin to cling on to the rock, and in some years will penetrate through the rock and reach the soil on which the rock is placed. As its name suggests, the tree sports rough sandpaper like leaves. In nature, it reaches dimensions of 2040 feet height. The creek sandpaper’s dark brown trunk and its elliptical leaves bring forth a great wilderness effect with rockery. Small is beautiful The height of these plants remains less than 15 cm, writes Hema Vijay Tiny but elegant: Mame bonsai is the smallest among the miniature plants. Tiny but elegant: Mame bonsai is the smallest among the miniature plants. See these tiny trees? The cascading jade, slanting croton with curly branches, multi-trunk Chinese bamboo, flowering mini-Christ thorn, slanting wild fig and upright pencil cactus and the mini-Christ thorn again (arranged from top left to bottom right)… these are Mame bonsai, the smallest among the miniature plants themselves. Also known as Shohin bonsai, the height of these plants remains less than 15 cm, and sometimes may be just 3cm tall! Actually, these are quite easy to raise, assuming the necessary measures are taken. Boxwood, variegated hibiscus, adenium, miniature pomegranate and ixoraare suitable to grow as Mame in our weather conditions, says Molly Cherian, who maintains a nice collection of Mame bonsai. The Mame bonsai trees seen here are around five years old, while the bonsai fig is just a few months old. Trees with small leaves are selected for growing Mame bonsai. And choose tiny ceramic pots of just 3cm depth, with drainage holes and small feet to prevent water logging.
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A mixture of compost, garden soil, cow dung and sand are used for potting. The soil should be porous. Avoid very fine particles. Protect the Mame from excess heat by spraying and frequent watering, warns Molly. Pinching the shoot tip and cutting root tip is useful to grow them compact. Cut off the roots coming out of the drain hole. Wiring method is very rarely used, Molly says. Take heart, all these stringent efforts will bear fruit; the Mame Bonsaiare is ready for display much faster than other types of Bonsai. So then, do you want to hold a tree on your palm? Spacescape Acourtyard can be a delightful space, but space constraints can keep it out of reach - or out of your home, to be precise. A solution to this might be to slip in the courtyard in a non- conventional location; perhaps on the first floor. And it really need not be a central courtyard. Sasidevi Shivakumar's first floor courtyard is positioned right at the outer end of her house, and you step into the courtyard .from the first floor lounge Privacy is ensured by a wall (with rectangular openings cut out for ventilation) at the outer end. The informal first floor lounge is positioned a couple of inches above the courtyard floor to ensure that water does not run in. Rain water falling down on the courtyard is drained out through a pipeline in the corner. Mosquitoes are not a ?problem, Sasidevi assures. The first floor effect, perhaps For security reasons Shivakumar has roofed the courtyard with pergolas, which let in light and air. Wooden pillars flank the entrance to the courtyard. To complete the courtyard look, Sasidevi has given the courtyard a rustic combination of clay and stone tile flooring, soil space for greenery on the borders, a tulsi madam in the centre, and stone ledges on the walls for depositing knick knacks. Plans are also afoot ?.to raise a tree there Cool your home with right choice The `Star Rating’ to label air conditioners helps evaluate their efficiencies, says Mansoor Bhavnagarwala

The heat is on! Our choices for buying air conditioners are innumerable. How do we go about making our choice? A close reading of the facts and information about air conditioners will help us make an intelligent choice. The machine we buy should be efficient while giving us comfort. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has come out with a `Star Rating’ programme to label air conditioners based on their efficiencies. It is just like teachers mark our test or our lessons in school with star if we have done well, similarly the more efficient the machine the more stars it gets.


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Star rating The star rating for air conditioners is determined differently from other appliances. For air conditioners, the measure of energy efficiency is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). The EER is defined as the capacity of output cooling divided by the input Electrical Power. Typically, EER is in the range 2.0 to 3.5 (meaning that the cooling output is 2 to 3.5 times greater than the power input, or an efficiency of 200% to 350%). The Star Rating Index (SRI) is calculated on the tested values for energy and capacity. The energy is measured in a single power unit (Watts) for simplicity (thermal or electric). Just following the table the savings in the power bill can be easily understood. For example a 1.5 tonne air conditioner 2 star rated machine would have an annual saving of Rs. 1707 over a non-rated air conditioner unit.

The total annual consumption works out to (11074-1707) or Rs. 9637 per annum. This calculation for a year has been done considering 252 days for 8 hours a day, considering the compressor or the major power consuming equipment will be operational for 75 % of the time. This is simple to visualise. The unit is operating the entire year over various seasons, and times of the day. To take into account this difference against the peak power it consumes it has been found that the actual power will be 75 % of this maximum power. The second table gives the power consumption of the units in watts against the cooling capacity in watts. The cooling capacity is given in the blue shading and the electric power is given in red. Take the example of the 1.5 tonne again and compare a non star rated against a 2 star rated you can see the cooling capacity is 5271 watts and the electric power has dropped from 2401 electrical watts of a non star rated machine to 2031 electrical watts of a 2 star rated unit. A Calculator is given by BEE and can be accessed at One can easily realize that the difference in the initial cost between the star rated and non star rated machine can be recovered within one to one and half years depending on your choice and state you live in.
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Dos and donts To further make your equipment even more efficient a list of do’s and don’ts are listed below: Use ceiling or table fan as first line of defence against summer heat. Ceiling fans, for instance, cost about 30 paise an hour to operate - much less than air conditioners (Rs.10.00 per hour). You can reduce air-conditioning energy use by as much as 40 per cent by shading your home’s windows and walls. Plant trees and shrubs to keep the day’s hottest sun off your house. One will use 3 to 5 per cent less energy for each degree air conditioner is set above 22°C (71.5°F), so set the thermostat of room air conditioner at 27°C (80.6°F) to provide the most comfort at the least cost. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. A good air conditioner will cool and dehumidify a room in about 30 minutes, so use a timer and leave the unit off for some time. Keep doors to air-conditioned rooms closed as often as possible. Clean the air-conditioner filter every month. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and may damage the unit. Clean filters enable the unit to cool down quickly and use less energy. Do not have any obstruction in and around the air conditioner which will hamper the flow of cold air. If room air conditioner is older and needs repair, it’s likely to be very inefficient. It may work out cheaper on life cycle costing to buy a new energy-efficient air conditioner. Normal life of a room air conditioner is five to seven years. BEE has further elaborated tables for commercial and industrial applications to ensure the entire gamut of air conditioning equipment is covered for a comprehensive reduction of power. ISHRAE(Indian Society Of Heating & Refrigeration & Air conditioning Engineers) has started a campaign “save energy” by just setting your thermostat at 27°C instead of 24°C. HVAC Consultant (H & H Consulting) President ISHRAE Chennai Chapter email: Greening from inside, a better option In an Indian setting, the east and west windows are the primary sources of solar heat gain and should be eliminated or reduced in size, writes Deepti Adlakha

Inventive design: Architectural design requires judicious planning, especially for eco reasons. All that is touted to be green need not necessarily prove to be sustainable in the long run. Architectural design can turn out to be energy consuming and expensive if not judiciously planned and executed from the preliminary stages. This can result in unintended consequences such as high operation costs and ineffective, unproductive environments for the occupants.
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Superimposing active technology add-ons and equipment to achieve green goals once the shell of the building is constructed can also lead to disastrous scenarios. Sometimes newer buildings, though equipped with more energy efficient machinery and equipment, end up exploiting the energy resources. The recently organised ISHRAE (Indian Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) seminar focused on ethical solutions to arrest this indiscriminate energy increase while serving to dispel the widespread notion of green buildings publicised as being more costly than conventionally designed ones. Passive strategies The building configuration and orientation in relation to the local climate determines the amount of radiation it receives. The orientation, with respect to air patterns, also affects the amount of natural ventilation possible. In an Indian setting, the east and west windows are the primary sources of solar heat gain and should be eliminated or reduced in size. Although each site has its own specific constraints, the building should preferably be placed with its longer sides facing north- south. It is also advisable to place the non-air conditioned spaces (garages, closets, vertical movement cores, toilets and other buffer places) along the eastern and western sides. Orientation for taking advantage of breezes in warm and humid climate and for prevention of hot winds in hot and dry climates is also critical along with solar heat control. As Mr. Ashish Rakheja, CEO, Spectral Building Services Consultants, expressed “Rather than aping the west and introducing alien concepts that are unfavourable to our local conditions, we must prudently utilise our resources. In a country like India blessed with sunshine year-round, it is imperative to capitalise on this by appropriate orientation and placement of openings to let in abundant natural light. This can minimise the need for use of artificial lighting during daytime.” Various software and building modelling techniques are available to aid planners and architects during the design process. Building simulation using this technology can help one arrive at exact computations for incident heat gain, solar elevation angle, surface exposure and shadow areas etc. Envelope optimisation and window sizing for optimum indoor day lighting can ensure greater energy savings. Appropriate facade design, solid-glazed area ratio and suitable thermal insulation are some modes suggested to enhance energy efficiency. “Reducing the glazed surface to about 40 percent of the wall surface can result in savings of almost 8 per cent in electricity consumption over a period of time. An immediate fallout is decreased operational costs making the building sustainable and economically profitable”, said Mr. Rakheja. The use of exterior shading systems such as louvers, fins, recessed openings can also significantly reduce energy costs. Shading devices like light shelves function as reflectors bouncing natural light deep into building interiors for diffused day lighting. Appropriate technology The selection and procurement of materials has considerable energy implications. Materials embody energy in production, transportation and use. Use of locally available material saves on fuel consumption through reduced transportation requirements. Heavy mechanisation and transport can also be avoided by employing site intensive production of building components. Labour intensive rather than machine oriented construction processes ensure cost savings in addition to providing large employment opportunities.
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Fast track construction, sealed interiors with reduced ventilation air exchange and the use of synthetic building materials lead to unhealthy indoor air. The sick building syndrome (SBS) is one of the major repercussions attributed to this. Indoor air quality affects human health and working efficiency. It is essential to choose building materials with minimum pollutant emissions. Materials like fly ash blocks, filler slabs using broken bricks, glass and embedded plastic waste, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) discharge paints etc. are cost effective and eco-friendly. Putting the three ‘R’s to great effect The three R’s of construction - Recycle, re-use and re-construct - are what Thoreau house’ in Bangalore, built by S. Viswamurthy, speaks of Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar Design of a kind: Ideas of a naturalist influenced the octogenarian R. Viswamurthy’ to fashion an unique house that is a treat to the senses. Octogenarian R.Viswamurthy, retired from Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), is a star resident of R.T.Nagar in North Bangalore in his own way. His house on the 10th Main Road draws peering gazes from people taking casual walks too. Named ‘Thoreau house’ on a 60 x 90 site, . mud, stone and wood mainly make up this house that cost Rs. 1 lakh and 60,000 for its practical design by Viswamurthy himself. With modest earnings at HMT, even using cement seemed a dream. “I was a die-hard admirer of writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau and his nature principles,” says Viswamurthy. “Although several thoughts of the naturalist and his structures abroad had provided a treat to my senses, an amalgam of ideas kept brewing in me. Finally it was Thoreau’s comment, ‘Never go along a beaten track,’ that consumed me to go in for something different at nominal cost.” It was a quite an effort in 1975 to buy this huge site from HMT Building Co-operative Society for Rs.13,500 in instalments for Viswamurthy. His planning was meticulous though. “I planted variety trees in my site before construction really started and had them well-grown when my house was ready in the early 1980’s. I have never borrowed money, and I wanted a house within my means.” A look at his house number plate done with jute rope typifies his ‘recycle, re-use and re-construct’ mantra speaking of his passion for old material and prudent ideas. And how did this whole recycle saga flag-off? “I saw the old Central Telegraph office (in the GPO complex) being razed to the ground and insistently spoke to the building contractors to obtain the old stone slabs for my construction. I got them for 30 paisa a stone and had 14 lorry loads arrive at my site. I had studied the old building so much that even the


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corner-stones used there were re-laid in a similar arch to retain the old charm and have them unspoilt,” he says. Unique windows If that was the starting point, consider Viswamurthy’s resourcefulness in wood and windows. “Buying fresh wood seemed prohibitive. At that time HMT’s machinery that came in spruce wood boxes were lying abandoned in the watch factory. I approached my office and bought them for Rs. 4000 (scrap value) and used it for doors, windows, shutters, wardrobes and shelves. It wasn’t just the cost here, I got them verified by two carpenters for quality and longevity, for spruce wood is used around the world for building houses too,” he says. Flooring was taken care of when he got Cuddappah slabs for one rupee a sq. ft. from an old British bungalow being demolished. “Mosaics were Rs.9 sq ft, those days and how could one think of it?” reminisces Viswamurthy. What takes the cake, however, is his idea for windows. Devoid of chajjas (rafter support) and RCC lintels, the window frame is pushed to the inner side for getting a box-type natural concrete cover on the outer. Glass for his windows was from old-model car doors sourced from Russell Market old item shops, locally called gujaree. Almost trapeze-shaped, and still with four corners, the idea of bringing them together for each and every window seems an art more than looking bizarre, as one feels Viswamurthy hasn’t discarded his engineering lessons too in UVCE. “I got the wooden frames done after I got these glass car window frames,” he says. “Don’t be in a hurry to junk anything, think hard and re-use, it helps you and society,” is his guiding philosophy that is also seen in his outdoor tree-shaded spaces being used for children’s painting classes. “I used up all the excavated foundation mud too from the site for my building,” he says with pride. RANJANI GOVIND Bangalore Spacescape

THE THINNAI : A classy threshold space It is one of those subtle threshold spaces that are disappearing from our cities; the thinnai. Neither closed nor exposed, it is a wonderful space that allows you to revel in the outdoors without doing away with the comfort of the indoors. Thinnais are often given the go-by in city houses because they are considered passé, or because of want of space. But if you have the space for it, you can have a wonderful thinnai - cool, sophisticated and bright, like advocate N. Rajendra. This broad thinnai extends all over the front portion of Rajendra’s house, adding appeal to the façade of the house. Textured off white walls, rustic-looking non-skid tile flooring, a ceiling that slopes down,
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relaxing cane furniture, sparse and ethnic knick knacks, lighting, and provision for plugging in a pedestal fan make this a wonderful spot to catch up with your reading, chat with neighbours, or just to sit back and soak in the beauty of the garden upfront.


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