Monday, January 19, 2015

The future of construction building in Kashmir

Building thermally efficient, sustainable and cost effective houses is very critical to housing infrastructure of Kashmir which was badly hit by the September 2014 floods. We, in fact, need to make a major shift from a practice of constructing economically inefficient and environmentally unsustainable shelters to houses that suit our economy, weather conditions and beautiful landscape.  

With the winter set in, time is not on our side at the moment. We need to be proactive and take the initiative with a construction process that is conducive to our local conditions and a technology that has been tested in places having similar environmental situation as we are living in. We need to adopt technologies which are quick to implement in the short run and economical, thermally efficient, comfortable in the long run.  Replenishing of the housing stock is an onerous task and a long drawn process, but this is a golden opportunity to build energy efficient and modern housing so that the much needed relief is provided to the flood affected population in particular.

Looking at various practices and technologies used in cold parts of the world, the ISOMAX building system with its technologies can be a boon for the housing sector in Kashmir. It is a tried and trusted system the world over for more than three decades. In fact there is a housing colony right in our Valley in the Uri Hydel Project Residential Area which was developed in the earlier 1990s and is still very functional and efficient. A pertinent point in this is that all the houses built using ISOMAX building system withstood the disastrous effects of the 2005 earthquake very well. The houses constructed with this technology can make a significant difference in comfort levels of the inhabitants by reducing the energy required for heating, cooling. This is a wonderful, tried and trusted example of housing especially in colder regions like our Kashmir valley. Most of the material can be procured locally which enhances the economic sustainability in the long run and also can foster a new type of economic development for the building material and construction sector in the Kashmir valley.

The ISOMAX building system is the brain child of Mr. Edmond D. KRECK√Č, Inventor & Scientist from Luxembourg, Europe. He has been involved in the development and adoption of the building system in more than 50 countries in the world. He is the advisor to numerous national governments on the building system after having an amazing record of expertise in construction of sustainable and efficient housing. Mr. Krecke is the General Secretary for the Presidential Council - Berlin / Monaco / Zurich / Washington and has also been nominated by the Executive Board of the Association of German Engineers for the Nobel Prize for Physics.

The ISOMAX system combines the components of building construction and building services equipment to provide a future-oriented, resource-saving and therefore sustainable, environmentally friendly system design. Noteworthy is its versatility and related applicability both in the design of new buildings, as well as in the general modernization of old buildings.

The ISOMAX system promotes and allows each individual building design, both architectural and constructive planning approach, under their respective state of the art. Oriented to the building configuration stationary component prefabrication and project execution planning of the entire ISOMAX system-building services ensures optimized and future-oriented building value at minimum standard construction cost.

With respect to local climatic conditions and general repairs of existing buildings the basic structure can be modified. In Kashmir we can have a plain cement concrete foundation and load bearing walls.  The walls both internal and external can be the ISOMAX building system. The ISOMAX construction technology provides self-sufficient building technology. The residents will have a cost-neutral building with a health-promoting and physiologically reasonable comfort level.
The main component of the proposed system is the insulating, lightweight foamed concrete by the trademark name of BIO-POR-Beton. BIO-POR-Beton is cement-based concrete from natural or artificial aggregates. Pores are produced by mixing in the BIO-POR-Beton foam and these pores make the concrete light and insulating. Special BIO-POR-generators are used for the foam preparation.  The quality of the BIO-POR-Beton is decisively determined by the foam quality. 
ISOMAX International in association with some local Kashmiri engineers, and planners is working on a proposal to offer this State of the Art construction system to the people of Kashmir. They have developed a pilot plan for "Isomax house" with an approx. area range of 600-1400 sq. ft with both single and double storey. The proposed house can be a load bearing structure or a framed structure depending on the requirement of area. The pilot plan can be customized to a sufficient degree with added components of technologies mentioned below. 

The cutting edge of this building system is the speed of construction. ISOMAX house measuring about 1000 sqft. can be developed ready to move in  within 90 days from start of construction till completion and handover, which makes it a boon for the  flood affected victims of Kashmir.
Advanced Technologies of heating and cooling can be incorporated into the ISOMAX system which will further enhance the comfort level and the energy efficiency of the buildings. These include solar heating for bathwater and space, photo voltaic systems for lighting and other electrical loads of the building. Another state of the art component can be the use of thermal barriers on roof and external walls; this includes a system of flexible pipes on the walls and roof which circulate hot/cold water to enhance the thermal comfort of the building.