Q & A – 1

We believe that asking Questions drives Research and Innovation. We will strive to keep questioning, to arrive at practically applicable Design that could affect meaningful change!

We interrupt the ongoing Chain of posts on E@BS to introduce our ‘Q & A’ column. Our segment on Cleantech One, left us with 2 questions. We address one of them today –


Integration with Green has positive effects on micro-climate and energy loads. However, landscaping has associated water and maintenance costs. There are also issues of insects that may not always be welcome in an urban/ strictly controlled setting like that of laboratories. What do you think about this?

Update: You could now also watch our video about ‘Building with Nature‘ in the ‘Sustainable Snippets‘ or ‘TAG Videos‘ sections. Hope you enjoy it.


A) Water and Maintenance Costs

Water use can be optimized, and maintenance can be reduced by adopting certain simple measures. Some of these have been adopted by our case-studies, specially Park Royal Hotel. The measures also help buildings to gain points for LEED certification categories – Water Efficiency, Sustainable Sites.

I. Reduction of Need

The first step is to reduce the need for maintenance and additional irrigation.

  1. Selection of Plant Species – Native plants that are local to the site are adapted best to existing conditions. They are thus hardy and require little to no maintenance. Many species can also survive, without any external irrigation.

II. Reduce Use of Potable Water

If we cannot do without additional irrigation, the next aim should be to reduce use of potable water. This can be achieved using alternate sources such as treated rainwater and waste water. Higher irrigation efficiency also aids to reduce potable water use.

  1. Rainwater Harvesting – Storage, treatment and recycling of rainwater for landscape irrigation helps reduce the requirement for Potable water. In Park Royal, rainwater from upper floors, irrigates plants on lower floors by gravity.

    Park Royal Hotel – Landscaped Tiers; Image: Patrick Bingham-Hall
  2. Non – Potable water – If additional water is required, then non-potable water recycled from site or outside, can be utilized. For example in Park Royal Hotel, recycled wastewater called NEWater is used for additional irrigation needs.

    Treatment process for NEWater; Source: c
  3. Drip Irrigation – If supplemental irrigation is needed, then drip irrigation is an extremely efficient option. Compared to overhead spray irrigation (efficiency 50-70 per cent), drip irrigation can provide water use efficiencies of greater than 90 per cent (a). There are multiple other benefits of this type of irrigation which make it an indisputable choice. Various small villages, farmers and projects in India are benefiting from this technology. Some benefits include –
    • Efficiency – There is reduction of  evaporative losses, as water is delivered through pipes to the plants as per requirement.
    • Yield – Farmers in the states of Andhra Pradesh (Anantapur district, Chilli Crop) and Tamil Nadu (Tuberose flowers) in India for example, have seen crop yields double by adopting drip irrigation. This is possible since water along with fertilizers or required chemicals can be delivered to the plants in a precise manner, thus improving plant health.
    • Weeds – Weeds are reduced since the area between plants is not irrigated.
    • Runoff – Runoff , Erosion and related Pollution is prevented (a).
  4. Sensors – Landscape areas could have rain sensors, that signal to turn off irrigation, when a minimum level of rainfall is achieved (d).
Drip Irrigation; Source: e



B) Insects

Insects or pests can be attracted to areas of vegetation and water. While all insects are not harmful (and many are extremely helpful and necessary for the ecosystem); they may not always be welcome in an urban/ strictly controlled setting like that of a laboratory. Let’s look at some ways to deal with this issue-

I. Pests around water features

Pests specially mosquitoes can be a dangerous problem around water features. However, we could take simple design steps and precautions to avoid this issue. One way is to design deeper water features, since larvae prefer shallow water bodies of less than 2 feet (m). You could also use fountains or waterfalls, which increase circulation and reduce stagnant water. Natural predators like dragonflies are great garden heroes, that can help get rid of unwanted pests. We should try and avoid spraying insecticides that could harm these useful creatures.

Natural predators for pests; Pond Skimmers; Sources: f, k

II. Pest repellent Plant species

Another simple way, is to select plant species that naturally repel certain pests. This helps avoid the use of harmful insecticides and pesticides, that have other dire consequences. Some low maintenance species are Lavender, Citronella Grass, Marigolds.

Lavender, Citronella Grass, Marigolds; Sources: g, h, j


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