Green tea with Gul

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Actress Gul Panag will throw open the doors of her eco weekend home, one of the first two in India to await a TERI GRIHA certification, to anyone keen on building one of their own. 
Actress Gul Panag and pilot husband Rishi Attari have turned teachers, and they prefer tutoring by example; sometimes taking the help of 3D animation. The couple has built a weekend home in Mulshi, three and a half hours away from Mumbai. It’s one of the first of two independent green homes in India to register with GRIHA, a scheme launched in collaboration with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy under New Delhi-based TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), to encourage, facilitate and evaluate the construction of ecofriendly homes across the country. 
By June, Panag plans to host guests virtually at her Green Home, through her website. “Our home will be open to anyone curious to figure how a certified green home is designed, and what makes it environmentally conscious. If the virtual 3-D tour of our nest stokes your appetite to check out the real one, drive down for a cup of tea, and I’ll be happy to offer you a guided tour,” says Panag. 
Experts say it’s a leg up for the green home movement that the efforts are gradually weaning away from the symbolic rain-water-harvesting-and-solar- panelinstallation design to a professionally laid out vision, capped by a system of evaluation, rating and certification. Panag’s home is awaiting a rating from GRIHA. The first green home to register with GRIHA is New Delhi-based media professional Prasanto Roy’s. The champa tree that stood outside his family home in CR Park had held special memories; his sister was named after it. When the sprawling mansion was being torn down last year to make way for the new building, Roy’s Green One project ensured that not just the beloved champa, but every tree on the premises was saved, or professionally transplanted; a key pre-requisite of the TERI GRIHA programme. 
Another tenet is the use of material from the old construction. “Since ours was an old house, all possible material had to be re-used and documented. Every single brick has been reclaimed, sorted and stacked for re-use, and is being used for non-critical, non-load bearing construction. Same for steel bars,” says Roy. Mallika Desai Thakker, the LEED-certified architect of Panag’s home, says the house will be off the grid, not dependent on sarkari energy, and will generate its own power through solar panels. Double glazed windows, and an allround ventilation mechanism will eliminate the need for airconditioners. Rainwater harvesting will provide it a supply of close to 1 lakh litres of water a year. 
Some benefits of going green are reduced energy consumption, better light and indoor air quality. Roy says, “Construction costs are typically 5 to10 per cent higher than for a regular building, but in the long run it’s more economical. Builders need to play up the certification of green buildings like they would Italian marble or jacuzzis.” 
3 Simple ways to go green 
Use Autoclaved Aerated Concrete instead of bricks. Its improved thermal efficiency reduces heating and cooling load in homes. It’s light, reduces cost and energy in transportation. 
Use double wall glass in windows so as to reduce direct heat gain and glare while maximising the sunlight entering your rooms. 
Paint your exteriors and room walls with ecofriendly non-toxic paints that don’t use petrochemicals involved in the creation of traditional paints that can pollute the atmosphere through toxic fumes when discarded irresponsibly. 
Fast facts 
A green building is environmentally responsible and resourceefficient through its lifecycle: from design, construction, operation to maintenance, renovation, and demolition. 
You can bring in ‘green elements’ into any building design, but the formal term ‘green building’ is used typically for one that has been certified through a rating system such as LEED or GRIHA. Ratings are based on points on a 1-100 scale across major categories such as energy, water efficiency, materials. 
US-based LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the dominant global rating system, also popular in India. TERI’s GRIHA is the Indian equivalent of LEED. It uses a star rating (five stars equivalent to LEED’s platinum rating). 
Rating cost is typically 5-6 lakh, but TERI introduced the SVAGRIHA system (under GRIHA) that reduces cost to 1 lakh approx. 

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