Construction, Legislation, and Technology
There are a lot of idiosyncratic (to say the least) things about Antilia, a 490-foot-tall, 24 story facility now under construction in India for both corporate meeting space and a private residence. The building, commissioned by multi-billionaire tycoon Mukesh Ambani, is designed according to the traditional Indian concept of Vaastu Shastra, which orients structures to remain in harmony with energy flows. Besides that, and the “vertical gardens” that weave around the building and indicate separation for the different sections of the building, there is also a general air of opulence that surrounds its construction. The building is estimated to cost around $1 billion, and features a movie theatre, parking for 168 cars, living quarters that span four floors, and three helipads.
The architects plan to seek certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System standards. which is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), . The piece the growth of green design renders the loopholes in LEED more serious than ever. The point system creates perverse incentives to design around the checklist rather than to build the greenest building possible.” And the process of LEED certification can cost up to $100,000, which, though barely anything on a project like Antilia, is a significant price tag for small firms and nonprofit clients.
Brook writes later, “Lately, even the USGBC seems to realize the solution lies not in giving out medals for greenness one building at a time, but in encouraging greener communities.” Signals that progress in the U.S. might be on the way come from California and Seattle, where environmental initiatives for sustainability and energy independence are receiving close consideration. In Seattle, a proposal by the chairman of Seattle City Council's Urban Development and Planning Committee would require developers of large buildings and roads to identify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on projects involving highways, skyscrapers, or parking lots of more than 20 spaces. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Energy Commission unanimously adopted a plan that would make all homes independent from the electrical grid by 2020.
Those communities might achieve a part of those goals with help from a technology developed by a Dutch company that heats and cools buildings from solar energy collected from asphalt. What began as a road maintenance project for the civil engineering firm Ooms Averhorn Holding BV morphed into a system of flexible plastic pipes under a road that runs hot and cold water to nearby buildings, heating in winter and cooling in the summer. So maybe Vaastu does have a chance to harmonize energy in Antilia; even if that energy started out metaphysical, it may just turn green.