The age and advent of smart solutions, smart cities, smart technologies, smart infrastructure, smart transportation, etc., exhibits India’s new outlook on development. A clear paradigm shift came with the launch of the initiatives Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India, and others. As a result, India is now standing at the threshold of a major transformation, bringing new opportunities to its 1.3 billion people. It provides India with an opportunity to emerge as a global leader and to prove that there can be a reconciliation between economic development and the state of the environment—as opposed to the rapid development of many countries of the past which came at the cost of the environment. Sustainability is not just an integral part of development but is at the core of business growth. Consumers are asking for products, buildings and cities that contribute to clean, green ways of living—not the opposite. Today’s markets choose brands that pro-actively pay attention to the impact their products and services can have. And businesses are exploring avenues to ensure environment management and sustainability at grassroot level to propel growth. The challenge is in establishing a sustainable, responsible business, instituting an able value chain and increasing product quality and performance at the same time.
What we need is to examine products’ blue print. An estimate by the department for environment, food and rural affairs, government of United Kingdom, establishes this point: 80% of the environmental footprint that products and services have, are determined during the nascent stage of design. It is crucial to embed awareness of sustainability issues in the first stages of design. For companies to pro-actively create products for a low-carbon future, designers and engineers need to increase product and energy productivity. That is possible today through tools that can guide them to minimising costs of energy and resources while maximising value; for example, by modeling, testing and refining; by evaluating the energy and resource productivity of each design decision; and by involving everyone and everything that will be most affected by the final product.
Design takes a long-term view
Through this lens, businesses can create products that ensure maximum efficiency with minimum waste generation. Such products will cut carbon footprint and decrease the strain on the environment. The foundation for a low-carbon future can be engrained in the overall development process–from product innovation to the development of cities. The need of the hour are design solutions that become a core element of business operations and can advance entire industries. Continuing experiences of increased traffic congestion, air pollution, rising greenhouse gas emissions and public health challenges are compelling situations for action. Considering cities, less holistic planning of cities can make it a mammoth task to embed sustainability at a later stage. The important question is, how does one achieve equilibrium with the surrounding nature while developing a future city? Khed City, a joint venture between Kalyani Group, Bharat Forge and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) 2 is one such example. It nurtures a culture of environmental stewardship and stimulates economic vitality. The development of this city focuses on fulfilling human needs in the urban context. This can be a potential global model of urbanism for residents to live in harmony with nature.
The Shanghai Tower in Shanghai’s Pudong District is a good example of sustainable building development. The 2,073-foot-tall building saves up to 22% of energy in comparison to similar skyscrapers. With a focus on light-weighting the structure while maintaining the overall strength of the building, architects could save 25% of material costs. Developers cite this achievement to the role design has played in the development of this tower.
These examples prove that design can impact the environment in a positive way and have a lasting impact on a company’s profitability and reputation.
sustainability right at the grassroot level of design paves the way for smarter societies. We need to re-examine the current growth-led models and make sure that sustainable and smart solutions form the core of India’s development for a better society and for a more holistic growth of India companies and industries.
Joachim Jake Layes
–The writer is global director, Entrepreneur Impact, Autodesk