OPINION

How Green is My Antilla!

January 30, 2008
arZan

In a hard hitting and valid argument Daniel Brook talks about Mukesh Ambani's Antilla being billed as a Green Building by its American architects Perkins+Will.

When completed, the 24-story Ambani family home will include its own health club, terraced sky-gardens, and 50-seat screening room (the reclusive Ambani is reputed to be a huge Bollywood fan). Antilla also boasts three helipads and a 168-car garage. This may sound like transportation overkill, if not outright eco-terrorism, for a family of six. But despite its 38-to-1 car-to-person ratio, Antilla has been billed by its American architects as a “green building.” And under the leading standards for green architecture, the building will likely qualify.

The LEED rating system at best is a guideline and at worst is riddled with loopholes.

Installing a $395 bike rack is worth the same under the LEED checklist system as installing a $1.3 million environmentally sensitive heating system. Which is the cynical builder going to choose?

This allows for architects like Perkins+Will to claim to design green buildings while in reality it is all a hogwash.

The rating system is designed for US standards and when implemented on Indian conditions and buildings, every project could bag the "green" tag.

Perkins+Will is not the only ones who ride the hype-mobile. Even reputed Indian architects like Karan Grover do the same. By understanding the system and finding the loopholes, Grover has the "distinction" of being the first architect with both a LEED Platinum Building and a LEED Platinum Commercial Interior project.

Even FXFowle who is designing the India towers at Charni Road in Mumbai are billing their project to be

within a sustainable network of green roofs and hanging gardens; creating a singular, extraordinary building that, when completed, will be the tallest and greenest - building in India. [link]

Green has become the buzzword of the latter half of this decade. And it helps to sell everything from food to apartments costing millions (in whatever currency).

And from what I read and see, India seems to be picking up the hype which has somehow started clearing out in the US, as the article above points out .

The Indian Green Building Council has just now woken up to the big difference in standards and the first LEED guidelines are being formalized for India. However it will take a few years for the real effects to trickle down to the individual building level.

People like Mukesh Ambani and Reliance should be leading the way instead of being an example of the moral bankruptcy that Reliance has time and again shown.

Architects in India have an easier job designing in sustainable ways. A lot of our building materials procurement and construction technology are sustainable to start with. Indian architects, developers and designers have a real opportunity to push beyond the "green" envelope and set an example. 

Currently based in New York and Bombay. arZan practices as an architect and urban designer, and dabble in web design and system and network admin as a freelancer.
Other passions include Scouting, reading, current affairs, politics, Parsi and Zoroastrian matters and riding his Yamaha V-Max everyday. There is nothing he dosen't have an opinion on !! And therefore he blogs.
Besides being a regular contributor on Metblogs Mumbai and Metblogs NYC, he also runs a personal blog News Views and Analysis , Parsi Khabar, a blog about Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India. and Clinton Hill a blog about one of the most happening neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York.
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#1
sm
January 30, 2008
05:55 AM

Could you please give a link to the LEED standards for designating a building as green?

And I wish you would also elaborate on you concluding paragraph:

"Architects in India have an easier job designing in sustainable ways. A lot of our building materials procurement and construction technology are sustainable to start with. Indian architects, developers and designers have a real opportunity to push beyond the "green" envelope and set an example. "

What are these sustainable materials and construction technologies?

#2
temporal
URL
January 30, 2008
03:55 PM

an interesting take HERE

#3
blokesablogin
January 31, 2008
03:15 AM

thank you arzan. So true- the use of ash, clay, bussa and other "green" materials make buildings cheap and green in India. It is tragic that we fall prey so easily to "hype". I sincerely wish that Ambani would stop this ridiculous project of building a "tower" in the skies and touch base with planet earth.

#4
Architects India
URL
January 31, 2008
05:03 AM

The 'Antilla' seems to be one of the most talked about architectural ventures in India.

#5
AtCheruti
URL
February 3, 2008
03:52 PM

So he's rich and building a big house. So the house isn't fashionably "sustainable." But wait, he's a rich man, he CAN sustain it.

In here lies the contradiction of the sustainability nonsense - Mukesh Ambani can sustain his house therefore it's unsustainable.

But this philosophy, all the progress we make as individuals can be written off as unsustainable. And it will be if we can't sustain it. But if we can, then it's eminently sustainable.

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