In today’s time when sustainability is no longer a choice, Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre led by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII, a nonprofit organization) has been at the forefront for the past 15 years in leading India’s green building movement. The design of the Centre back in 2004 is a live demonstration and reflection of a conducive green building, and, therefore, at that time, it was the first LEED Platinum Certified Building in India and outside the U.S.
It was designed by one of the leading Indian architects, Karan Grover, of Karan Grover and Associates, Baroda (Gujrat). The building stands as a real pioneer and a catalytic example of using traditional methods of sustainability in amalgamation with modern technologies.
On its 15th anniversary last year, it announced itself as a ‘Net-Zero Energy’ Platinum-rated building. This continuous awe-inspiring goal to step higher with each passing year makes it a great study model with its design philosophies, materials, and energy efficiency techniques.
The seed of the idea was sown when U.S. President Bill Clinton visited India in the year 2000 and wished to offer technical support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The basic thought process was that what comes from nature is returned to it. Similarly, a building should also give back to nature as it takes from it and subsequently reduces its impact on the earth.
The 20000 sq ft (1,858.06 m²) building sits on five-acre land having only a 9.2 percent footprint ensuring minimum disturbance to existing features.
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It is further located centrally on the flattest land available with landscaping and foliage all around providing a soothing microclimate and minimizing the impact of pollution on the inhabitants.
The Centre is shaped and oriented such that it captures prevailing winds and circulates them around and through the building. The wind passing over pools of water and shady planted areas is also used to drive evaporative cooling. The conceived circular form with round edges and softness in the form facilitated association and belongingness along with advantages of optimum solar gain and unrestricted air circulation.
The central internal courtyard acts as an energy center binding different independent functions of the building together. Several small green pockets created also function as thermostats giving protection from extreme weather while also maintaining good mental wellbeing of inhabitants by being close to nature.
The ground floor houses an auditorium, seminar halls, offices, administration, and services while the first floor consists mainly of workstations and a conference hall.
Construction and Materials
The maximum amount of material for the construction of Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre was sourced locally within 500 miles from the project site. Extensive erosion and sedimentation control measures to prevent topsoil erosion have also been taken at the site during construction. More than 50% of the construction waste is recycled within the building or sent to other sites and diverted from landfills.
The usage of recycled content was highly promoted with the use of materials like Fly-ash-based bricks, glass, aluminum, and ceramic tiles, which contain consumer and industrial waste. The use of aerated concrete blocks for facades reduced the load on air-conditioning by 15-20%.
Even the interiors echoed the use of organic materials like bagasse (post-harvest sugarcane waste) that was pressed into boards as an alternative to plywood. The use of the low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and coatings, adhesives, sealants, and carpets were used to improve indoor air quality.
Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre has set high standards in using green methods and materials and acts as a guide for adopting sustainable procedures and techniques.
More than half of the roof area is converted into a terrace garden minimizing the interior temperature.
Along with it, the solar photovoltaic cells on the terrace help in producing nearly 20 percent of the building’s energy consumption. Two air cooling towers are designed to cool the air up to 8 degrees by sprinkling water and hence reducing the load on air conditioning.
The building has been oriented through various energy stimulation exercises in such a way that 90 percent of the interior gets direct sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Further, north facades have been glazed to gain efficient diffused light. Double-glazed units with argon gas filling between the glass panes enhance the thermal properties.
Dazzling light, which usually also contributes to overheating in sections of a building, was avoided by the use of traditional methods of brick Jali walls.
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These create a screening effect allowing air to pass through and breaking up scorching sun heat and casting beautiful light patterns. The other provisions like Rainwater harvesting, Root Zone Treatment system, indoor air quality monitoring, and high-performance glass make it one of the best examples of passive designs.
Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre has been successful in developing an Indian-based framework for green architecture that uses sustainable design practices for construction, utilizing locally available building materials and climatologically responsive techniques to derive the best possible design solutions that can be used across the country.
The building’s confident form and well-researched and sought-out techniques successfully exuberates symbolic power and have become a stimulus to support the Indian green movement to radiate as wide as possible.
Gast, K.-P. (2007). Modern traditions : contemporary architecture in India. Basel ; Boston: Birkhäuser ; London
www.architectureweek.com. (n.d.). ArchitectureWeek – Environment – LEEDing Green in India – 2004.0922. [online] Available at: http://www.architectureweek.com/2004/0922/environment_1-1.html
Williams, J. (2019). Building of the week: CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre. [online] The Earthbound Report. Available at: https://earthbound.report/2019/10/04/building-of-the-week-cii-sohrabji-godrej-green-business-centre