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Eco-friendly Construction In Hill Stations – Feature Technology

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By Author: Soundarya
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In recent times, there is an increased awareness among people about a certain lifestyle. It is none other than an eco-friendly lifestyle. According to a popular web analytics tool, the monthly search volume In India, for the term ‘ecofriendly’ is around 14,800!

But what does the term mean?

Eco-friendliness

It means earth-friendly. It involves the practises that are harmless to the environment. In other words, it refers to using products that do not contribute to pollution.

Are eco friendliness & sustainability the same?

Eco friendly practices can lead to sustainability. Sustainability is a measure to protect and preserve the environment, for future generations. It refers to those activities that do not deplete the environment.

Indian hill stations & development

In India, any area that is more than 600 meters from the Mean Sea Level and has an average slope of 30° is designated as a hilly area. Further, hilly areas can be classified as Foot-hill regions (below 1200 m), Mid-hill regions (1200–3500 m) and High-hill regions (above 3500 m).

In the last three decades, hill stations in India especially those in South India have been subjected to high urbanisation. This is more so relevant for Mid-hill regions like Ooty, Coonoor, Kotagiri, Gudalur, Valparai, Kodaikanal and Yercaud that see considerable tourist influx.

Why hill stations need building regulation?

Hill stations like the ones mentioned above, are environmentally sensitive and seismically vulnerable. They are also prone to certain natural hazards. Thus, it is required that conservation practises are put in place to avoid environmental degradation and ecological disturbance.

Building regulation India for hill stations

Different states have their own governing bodies for conservation of hill stations. In TamilNadu the governing body is called Hill Area Conversation Authority (HACA). Though HACA has multiple functions, its major role is to assess the environmental impacts of construction and grant building approvals.
What can we do more to conserve hill stations?

HACA does not mandate the use of specific materials for construction. Here’s where an eco-friendly mindset can add value. Using environment friendly materials can add to the government’s efforts to conserve hill stations.
What are the major advantages of eco-friendly building materials?

• Energy efficiency: The presence of natural materials aids in retaining heat during winters thereby reducing the need for artificial heating systems. Thus, green buildings are more energy efficient

• Economic: Although building a green building is expensive than a traditional one, low maintenance & operation costs make them cheaper in the long run

• Increases indoor environment quality: Use of eco-friendly materials maintains optimum thermal conditions and air quality thereby contributing to better health of the house’s occupants

Other advantages of the eco-friendly materials include local availability, durability, bio degradability, reusability. Having said that, let us look into some of the popular eco-friendly materials used in building construction in hilly areas, in addition to stone and slate

1. Straw Bales - These are typically used to build walls inside of a frame. If sealed properly, the material provides high levels of insulation from heat or cold. The advantage of the material is that it is affordable & sustainable

2. HempCrete - A replacement for concrete created from the inner fibres of the hemp plant. Usually, HempCrete is made by combining hemp fibres and lime. The resulting material is quite strong yet lightweight. Hemp is a renewable resource too

3. Bamboo - Using bamboo for construction has been an age-old practise. Bamboo’s features are unique. It has good tensile strength yet is lightweight. It also grows rapidly and is a renewable resource. Bamboo is typically used for framing buildings and is used as a replacement for concrete and rebar construction

4. Recycled plastic - This one may be surprising. But recycling plastic is an eco-friendly activity! Plastic may not be used standalone. Researchers have come up with a concrete that contains crushed plastic. This will provide an alternate use to plastic which may otherwise end up in landfills

5. Wood - Wood house construction is said to outperform industrial construction materials like concrete and steel. It can be easily made into construction products using less-energy consuming methods

6. Rammed Earth - It is a very ancient method of construction that has been popularised now as a sustainable method of construction. This method involves using earth, chalk, lime or gravel to construct foundation, floors and walls

7. Mycelium - It is a totally natural material derived from the root structure of fungi and mushrooms. Mycelium bricks are created by letting the fungi grow around a composite of other natural materials. The resulting brick is strong yet lightweight

8. Ferrock - Ferrock is a new age material made from 95% recycled materials. It uses steel dust from steel factories to create a material that is stronger than concrete. It is interesting to note that Ferrock is carbon neutral

9. AshCrete - It is also an alternative to concrete. It uses fly ash (a by-product of burning coal) instead of cement. AshCrete is a modified concrete that is made up of 97% recyclable materials.

Had you heard of these materials before?

Inclined to build an eco-friendly house of your own?

If it is hills, it has to be Hills & Wills. We are a comprehensive real estate service provider that offer a wide range of services including construction support services. Visit our portal today to know more!

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