You are on page 1of 37



31 January 2012
Prof. Dr.A.Jagadeesh
Vice Chancellor(Scientific Communications)
Australian Institute of High Energetic Materials

Nayudamma Centre for Development Alternatives
Human dwellings developed in relation to the surrounding
environment, taking advantage of materials at hand and creating
as much comfort as feasible. From caves to tents to huts to
igloos, humans creatively used and adapted their natural
surroundings. Through the centuries and millennia, technology
became more sophisticated, yet the basic principles remained
the same, until the advent of heating and air conditioning in the
20th century. Once this happened, humans were able to use
energy, originally from the sun, stored in the earth for millennia,
in the form of non-renewable resources such as coal. It became
relatively easy to alter the internal environment, rather than
adapting the external, to suit our needs. Modern buildings hence
became self-contained units isolated from the immediate
environment. As green building pioneer William McDonough put
it, "Most conventional practitioners of modern design and
construction find it easier to make buildings as if nature and
place did not exist. In Rangoon or Racine, their work is the

New Parliamentary Building, 2000 (London, England), Features a ventilation
system that is historically referential and provides an environmentally sensitive
form of air-conditioning. A series of towers, recall the site's Gothic architecture
Source: Michael Hopkins and Partners.

Yet large buildings employing such green strategies
as natural ventilation and passive solar energy, have
been around for centuries. Pueblo Indians, for
instance, used a southern exposure plus overhanging
cliffs to cool their adobes in winter, while sunlight
struck less directly during the hot summer. The
ancient Romans similarly employed southern facing
houses to trap heat inside during the cold winter
months, employing "clear materials like mica or
glass," which, "act as solar heat traps: they readily
admit sunlight into a room but hold in the heat that
accumulates inside."

The creative application of green principles continued
in the United States. The National Building Museum,
housed in a Civil War era building, is considered an
architectural marvel and precursor of contemporary
green ideas. The museum's website describes it as
possessing, "an ingenious system of windows, vents,
and open archways allows the Great Hall to function
as a reservoir of light and air. Museum curator
Howard Decker explains that the design acts as "a
natural form of air conditioning" in which cool air is
sucked in at the bottom vents and then drawn
upward, as though through an enormous chimney.

The Great Hall of the Meigs Building, now home to the National Building

Use of natural heating and cooling flows has
not been limited to esoteric structures.
Architect Richard Rogers compares
traditional structures to today's: "The oldest
masonry buildings work much better, really.
They mediate between inside and outside,
cool off at night, and then keep the cool
inside during the day."

Green buildings, then, represent at least in part a
return to ancient architectural principles and a
reaction against recent practices. Indeed, current
architecture is able to draw on green structures that
precede human history; one contemporary Zimbabwe
building uses a natural form of air conditioning-in
which hot air creates suction to draw in cool air-
derived from studying termite mounds. According to
environmental engineer Guy Battle, "the future of
engineering environments lies in a new generation of
buildings that use free energy to drive environmental
systems, rather than functioning as hermetically
sealed, artificial internal climates."

Japan is ranked as the most energy-efficient
economy in the world. According to a recent Forbes
Magazine report, Japan consumes only 4500 BTUs
for every one US dollar of GDP.
The measurement
used to evaluate was an index of "energy intensity,"
that compares GDP to BTUs consumed. In other
words, how much output a country produces as a
whole versus the amount of energy used. European
countries ranked closely behind Japan with the UK
coming in at 6,100 BTUs per dollar and Germany at
7,400 BTUs. The US came in double that of Japan at
9,000 BTUs per dollar and China at a whopping
35,000 BTUs


Renewable Energy
Adding renewable energy to a building
reduces the amount of electricity
demanded from the grid. Solar and wind
technology are not unique to Japan; there
are many US and European countries in
this industry. However, Japan has
developed some interesting advancements
in this area.


Sanyo Corporation has developed dual-sided (or bi-
facial) solar panels that allow for capture of sunlight
on both sides of a panel. When installed in
pathways or other settings that allow for the capture
of reflected light from below, 30% more power can
be generated and efficiency of a module can
increase to 17%. More power and more efficiency
are always good, but this also opens up new
possibilities for architectural design and inventive
ways to incorporate solar to the built environment.


Zephyr small-scale wind, Airdolphin

Small-scale wind cannot generate enough electricity to
power an entire building, but it can offset electricity
demand. Again, wind turbines are not unique to Japan, but
a Japanese company Zephyr has developed a swing
rudder technology that allows for instant response to wind
direction changes and more efficient power generation.

There have also been advances unique to Japan that
may appeal to US households. Hitachi Lighting
released a dimmer LED light bulb in December 2009.
This is remarkable as traditional dimmer switch
cannot control LEDs, making it difficult to convert
some inefficient lighting. The new design by Hitachi
that allows for dimming uses 82% less power.
Lighting uses 11% of electricity in a residential home
and 26% in commercial buildings. These
advancements in new technology allow for significant
savings in a buildings energy use.
Smart Windows

A very interesting product is thermotropic
glass that can self-respond to changes in
heat. The glass pane will automatically
change from a clear to white and can
reduce solar radiation up to 80%.
can reduce cooling loads on a building and
requires nothing to operate. It also creates
amazing opportunities for architectural

Waterless Washing Machine

Another unique invention is a waterless
washing machine created by Sanyo called
the Aqua. Instead of water, it uses ozone
to clean the clothes. Ozone has a strong
oxidation action that eliminates bacteria,
odors and organic matter (like dirt) from
the clothes. The machine converts air into
ozone, and then simply back to oxygen,
saving water and releasing no toxins.
The Sanyo Aqua waterless washing machine
Green Roofs and Food Production

Rooftop garden in Tokyo (courtesy Masaki
Green roofs reduce a building's carbon footprint in three ways.
First, it is one method for a cool roof and reduces the "heat-
island effect, which can increase local temperatures due to an
urban environment. Second, it cuts roof heat gain, which
increases the temperature of the building itself, helping to lower
energy costs to cool a building. Third, green roofs add plants that
absorb carbon. Green roofs are not new to the US, but most
green space on the top of buildings has been decorative.

Japan has expanded the use of green roofs to green
vegetable gardens. Except for one project in
Brooklyn, NY, there have been virtually no rooftop
vegetable gardens in the US. However, Japanese
innovation has allowed for green roof development
with the ability to grow vegetables in as little as four
to six inches of soil. Masaki Envec, a leader in green
roofing has developed technology that allows for
rooftop farms with an extremely low- weight soil,
which means very little additional infrastructure is
required. Of course there is not enough rooftop space
to feed a city, but there are several advantages,
especially education on food production to urban

For the food that can't be provided by a rooftop,
another interesting development are "plant factories,
As a way to address food safety and food supply, the
Ozu Corporation grows lettuce in sterile environments
free from dirt, bugs and fresh air. Vegetables are
grown 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can
be cropped up to 20 times per year. The production
process uses less water and the food is grown close
to where it is consumer, reducing energy used in
distribution. This type of food production may become
necessary if the effects of climate change become
more severe or unpredictable.

A picture from the Ozu Corporation plant


Japan is renowned for its new technology and
has brought many new and interesting
products to the market from Nintendo to the
hybrid car. As shown here, Japan has also
developed several unique policies in regards
to green buildings and energy efficiency.
CASBEE building standards and the Eco-
Model Cities programs demonstrate a path to
a sustainable community.
Laurie Baker Housing Technologies
Laurie Baker Housing Technologies
Mud Houses
Mud Houses

Biophilia (coined by Harvard Biologist Edward O.
Wilson in 1984) does what Biomimicry does not: it
reaches into the human desire for an affinity with nature
on both the meta- and individual levels. Biophilia is
different from Biomimicry because it is based more in
the appreciation of nature. To my mind it (-philia) is
more on a spiritual/emotional plane rather than a
quantitative/measured level.

The following quote is an extrapolation on this concept:
Nature, biology, offers profuse and luxuriant forms;
with the same constructions, same tissues and same
cellular structures it can produce millions and millions of
combinations, each of which is a high level of form
Alvar Alto, 1935

Though Alto's words are from long ago, we are now more
widely accepting that we need to incorporate sustainable
architecture, design, and daily choices into the fabric of cities.
The status of a building is changingit is a crucial participant in
our uphill battle for sustainability and overall well-being. This
natural model is the way to discuss and to design buildings in
our milieu.

Indeed, termites must live in a constant temperature of exactly 87 degrees
(F) to survive. The difficulty is that the temperature outside fluctuates greatly,
from between 35 degrees at night to 104 degrees during the day. The
solution they have devised is to dig a kind of breeze-catcher at the base of
the structure that cools the air by means of chambers carved out of the wet
mud below and sends the hot air up through a flue to the top according to a
Baroque circuitous Venturi principle. They constantly alter the construction,
opening up new tunnels and blocking others to regulate the heat and
Applying nature to architecture

Succinctly put, the principle Pearce has discovered in termite
architecture is the use of the thermal mass of a building and
the changing environmental conditions to cool it. It is at the
heart of Eastgate. The outside is made of four massive
masonry and concrete walls inspired by the stone walls to be
found in Great Zimbabwe, a city 200 miles southeast of Harare
and over 900 years old that was the capital until colonial times.
(Zimbabwe means stone house in the Shona language.)

Inside, there is a seven-story-high, naturally lit atrium full of
delicately detailed steel lattice girders, suspended walkways
on tendons, bridges, and filigreed tiaras atop the main
entrances to the complex. The hot air is pulled out through 48
brick funnels on the roof, modeled, according to Pearce, on
the wind scoops from Hyderabad that he came across in
Rudofskys book. The building takes advantage of the diurnal
temperature swings outside. Normally, the high volume fans
run at night to give 10 air changes per hour and low volume
fans run during the day giving two air changes per hour.
Creativity in construction
Put the RENEWABLES to work : to get in
exhaustible, pollution free energy, which
cannot be misused.