Green is Common Sense

Hema Mulchandani

Volume 2, Issue 2, September 2015
pp. 97 – 99

The Green Building movement has acquired a large following in India and has gained talismanic status in the popular imagination. The buzz word in the construction industry today is ‘Green’. Statistics suggest that ‘green building movement’ is gaining momentum and could account for 20% of all construction by the year 2030 in the country. A green building is described as one which uses less water, optimises energy usage, conserves natural resources, creates less waste, provides healthier spaces etc. There are tangible benefits such as- energy savings in the range of 20-30 %, reduction of waste by 30-50 %. In addition, intangible benets such as enhanced air quality, excellent day lighting, health and wellbeing of occupants are to be considered. Of course there would be an additional cost of green technology- quite substantial many a times, but the payback period promised is said to be of 3 – 4 years.

But who is to determine what ‘Green’ is? How green are the projects certified by an external green rating agency? What about the laymen and their involvement in all this? Do they understand the technological jargon related to this subject? In his book Green is Red, Anil Laul, the Delhi based architect and urban planner takes a contrarian view and asks to go green with the common sense approach. He presents for the students and professionals an opportunity to understand simple living and sensible, appropriate technology as characterizing Green. He says, “Green is not a fashion statement, it is merely the logical and common sensical way to go and common sense, though rare it is said, should require no approval from specialised agencies.”

Architect Anil Laul is the founder of Anangpur Building Centre and Academy for Sustainable Habitat Research and Action (ASHRA). He takes issues with the way green building concepts are promoted in our country, arguing instead for sensitivity to the needs of the poor and for use of traditional methods and materials while thinking about dwellings and buildings. In this book, Laul describes his own journey to ‘common sense’ (his education and professional experience). He narrates how he became ‘Carpenter Laul’, the ‘Dome Laul’ and then the ‘Canninblaul’.



Prof. Anil Laul

Academy for Sustainable Habitat Research and Action (ASHRA)


The book contains a total of twenty chapters, unfolding Architect Laul’s ideas and concepts about sustainable design and relies on examples of his own work, particularly that of his own house. The book is filled with many photographs and drawings and witty thought provoking quotes. The first two introductory chapters: “Why Green is Red” and “Green is Common Sense” talk about the very purpose of writing this book. In these, he discusses the reverse of green marketing and ratings system and lay emphasis on the re-rationalisation of material and technologies. The next three chapters focus on the use of technology in sustainable buildings. According to Laul, technology is worth only if it is less expensive, more economical and more beautiful. In yet another chapter, “A Broken Civilization”, Laul explains why we have lost faith in urban policies and lack direction. “The Witches Cauldron” and “Urban Red Herrings” inform and focus on the appropriate choice of land, which is an important aspect of a sustainable design as also drinking water issues in developing countries and solutions. Laul discusses appropriate design of roads and drainage system, suitable plot proportions, comparison of square plot vs. rectangular plot etc. He critiques the use of British standards in brick sizes, describing how brick size and techniques varied in traditional Indian buildings.

A section of the book is dedicated to Laul’s own house which he built on a quarried land of 6,000 square feet area. He has used construction materials that were available nearby and worked with the elements of nature. The different phases of construction, functions, placement of rooms, various design elements, services, water treatment, waste disposal, materials, nishes, furniture- every aspect is described in detail with photographs. In this house, Laul demonstrates reduction in the construction costs by using alternative methods of construction, using local and indigenous building materials, local man power, energy savers, environment-friendly options and other effective measures. He has built his own house as an exemplar of the response towards the environment and economic efficiency. The book concludes with a chapter called, “Local Agenda 21”, highlighting fourteen points towards sustainable development.

This book makes future professionals aware of the practices in the areas of appropriate building technologies and sustainable planning strategies. It makes the readers realise the value of the natural principles and to take a step towards cost-efficient, environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing architecture in its own traditional sense. He drives home the point that anyone can go green with a common sense approach!

Hema Mulchandani

Hema Mulchandani is an architect and assistant professor at MES Pillai College of Architecture, Navi Mumbai. She holds a master’s degree with specialisation in building energy efficiency from the CEPT University, Ahmedabad. Previously she has interned with CARBSE, Ahmedabad, where she worked on a project titled
“Daylight performance evaluation of laser cut panel in deep plan offices-a case of Indian cities”.

She has keen research interest in energy efficiency and daylight simulations, climate analysis and facade optimisation of buildings.