‘He who plants a tree, plants a hope’ – Lucy Larcom
I had posted a few photographs of our Corporate office on my facebook, recently. Many liked it and even commented on it. The building, comprising of 13 storeys and an area of 1.2 lakh sq ft in a 2 acre plot, was the realization of a dream. Born and brought up in picturesque Parappur, nature has always been close to my heart. Naturally, when we thought of building a Corporate office, I wanted it to be ‘green’ and eco-friendly. I, for one, do not believe that ‘development’ is all about creating concrete jungles. I pressed with my architect that each storey of the building should have a verandah on every side, lined with plants. The building should adopt energy efficient practices, use less water, generate minimum waste and reduce pollution. More importantly, it should contribute to the health and well being of my people.
Vennala, a suburb, was a conscious choice. It has almost become fashionable now to speak of fully air conditioned offices. Little do we think of the environmental damage. ‘Global warming’ threatens us; but, we are still hell bent on consumption rather than conservation. Consciously, we restricted air conditioning to less than 4% of the built up area of the building, leading to lesser power consumption. Each floor is surrounded by a two metre wide verandah lined with plants. These flower beds prevent the sunlight from hitting the walls directly. A roof top garden, with a lawn, serves as a dining and recreational space. Over the last two years, we have planted over 5300 plants. Our lawns extend to more than 2,700 Sq. ft. The plants are all irrigated by drip irrigation. Consequently, we do not feel the heat even in this hot summer. And it’s a treat to watch the plants in full bloom.
We do not even put on lights during the day. The building wall covers only about two feet at the top and bottom; the windows occupy the rest of the area, welcoming adequate light and air, inside.
The building does not need to depend on the Corporation for water. A rainwater tank harvests about 3.3 Lakh litres of water. We are purely dependant on this tank and a well for irrigation and drinking purposes. Even the tiles used to pave the walkways, have pores in them, to ensure that rainwater percolates into the ground. The hot water requirements are met by a 1,500 LPD (Litres Per day) capacity solar water heater. This is more than adequate to meet the needs of 13 guest rooms which can house 40 guests at a time.
It was no surprise that the building won the ‘Gold Leaf’ award for 2009-10 instituted by the Indian Institute of Architects, Kerala Chapter. I’m equally glad of the fact that people love to come to work here, in a soothing atmosphere, amidst blooms, greenery and the chirp of birds. Planting and nurturing trees and plants and watching them grow have always been a passion. The ‘Wonderla’ Parks at Kochi and Bangalore had partially satisfied that desire. I could take it one step further with this building. Save today for a better tomorrow!