Green initiatives in manufacturing are increasingly being taken by enterprises in order to ensure that minimal damage is done to the ecosystem, and that all manufacturing activities, processes and end-products are sustainable. Businesses are making a conscious effort towards preserving the environment for posterity, while maintaining their profits margins. Eureka Forbes is one such company that has adopted a green business model for its operations.
One with the Environment
A leader in the water and air purification space, Eureka Forbes has implemented eco-friendly techniques of operation at its factory. Eureka Forbes’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Aquamall Water Solutions in Dehradun is India’s first green plant and the world’s largest Ultra Violet (UV)-based water purifying plant. The company’s efforts have been recognised in the form of an Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) gold-rated green building award in Uttarakhand.
This water purification unit involved a number of steps that ensured its contribution to the environment. The initial planning and design is in tandem with the company’s aim to attain a carbon-neutral status by limited energy use. For this purpose, it plans to harness renewable electricity from an off-site windmill and other such media. The basic aim is to conserve energy and control emissions from transportation and other manufacturing processes.
In order for this plant to receive the greenbuilding certification, certain features had to be incorporated into its design. These were under five environmental categories along with innovation defined by USGBC (United States Green Building Council)/LEED, India. Elements such as sustainable sites, water efficient methods, appropriate materials and resources, indoor environment’s quality, innovation, design process and atmosphere were a few parameters considered before the title was awarded.
The Aquamall Green Plant was also featured in a book that is based on India’s best practices in water management by the CII – National Committee on Water; it was among 51 other projects that were exclusively selected for the book. The building has fittings that are designed with a preset flow and timer, and rainwater harvesting is an eco-friendly practice at the plant. Water is harvested in a tank for later use, while the excess is retained for bore-well recharge.
Water from the south-western rooftops (far from the bore-well) will be interposed into the ground with the help of recharge pits. In this way, water harvested from the roof-top is enclosed in the tank or underground. With no discharge premises, a part of the plant is dedicated to a wastewater treatment system that is both clean and economic. This is an eco-friendly method of domestic sewage treatment and is different from a conventional procedure. For this purpose, plants that are specially selected are kept together for their aeration strength with effective microbial cultures. The treated water is then recycled or reused for watering the gardens. This system effectively substitutes fresh water requirements with recycled water.
Windmills may not always gratify energy requirements as they require a lot of natural wind. For this purpose, this factory used grids in order to harness energy. The company has invested in windmills in Tamil Nadu, and is selling it to its local government. Thus, if 10,000 units of energy is used at the Dehradun plant, almost more than 5,000 units will be generated there in an eco-friendly manner and it goes to the grid. Thus, green power is consumed through offsite wind power for more than 50 percent of the consumption.
Various other Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) implemented in the Aquamall Plant include double-glazed glass units for the façade, wall assembly of hollow fly-ash based blocks, maximum usage of natural daylight, T5 Lamps and CFL lamps, earth tunnel cooling for office spaces and energy metres for monitoring performance. Also, the building has been designed with various weatherproofing design features to reduce energy load. Moreover, for places that are naturally ventilated, an insulation system, which is under-deck, has been established against the true ceiling. This is a chief costefficient method to insulate the building envelope. This also ensures protection to occupants against extreme weather conditions, without consuming energy. Thus, this practice is eco-friendly and incurs no operational costs.
These measures enable the company to use energy from the grid without a problem, since, the energy requirement is made up for by eco-friendly energy generating mechanisms. Hence, the company can consume green power with the help of offsite wind power, for more than half of its consumption requirement.
In the construction of Aquamall Green Plant, 15.6 percent of the material used by Eureka Forbes was recycled. Further, the building has used 65 percent locally-available materials that considerably reduced the requirement for transportation of building material and reduced emission levels considerably.
It is a common observation that modular constructions result in lesser waste materials and site disturbances, compared to structures built on site. Given the fact that the same building plan is being constantly made, the manufacturer has pre-set records of the quantity of materials needed for a given project. While waste from a site-built dwelling may typically fill several large dumpsters, construction of a modular dwelling generates much less waste. Also, catering to the speed of construction and faster return on investment, modular constructions allow for the building and site work to be completed simultaneously, cutting overall completion time by as much as 50 percent.
Besides embracing modular construction, fly-ash bricks are an apt way to ensure comfort in an eco-friendly structure. Owing to their comparable density, these bricks do not cause any extra load for design of structures and provide better resistance for earthquake loads. Since these are moisture-resistant, 6–12 percent of water is absorbed by them as against 20–25 percent by handmade clay bricks, reducing the dampness of the walls. These bricks do not absorb heat; they reflect heat and give maximum light reflection without glare.
Hollow blocks are a clever incorporation in an eco-friendly construction. Acting as a thermal insulator, hollow blocks keep the plant free from extreme hot or cold temperature. Strong and durable, the concrete compacted by high pressure and vibration gives substantial strength to the block and proper curing increases the compressive strength of the blocks. With this, the carpet area can be increased as the strength of the block allows for 140 mm-thick block masonry, instead of 230 mm-thick brick masonry (thinner wall). Also, due to the high compaction by the mixing and manufacturing process, seepage of water is almost zero and the hollow blocks prevent moisture inside. In addition to this, the use of hollow blocks is economical as the thickness of plaster is minimum, thus saving omplaster, motor consumption, time and maintenance, and enabling speedy construction.
The paints used in Aquamall have less Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content. Also, the wall versus window ratio has been maintained in accordance with the norms of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for optimised air flow. Aquamall’s corporate office is associated with geo-thermal air ventilation, bringing in fresh air to occupants. This is controlled by VFD, to control the blower speed for the better comfort of occupants. The speed of the blower can be adjusted to subsequently adjust the airflow pattern. Also, the factory is connected with turbo ventilators that are wind-driven. Their working is simple and they transfer the hot air. Since, these ventilators run on wind energy, there is no operating cost involved.
When Eureka Forbes applied for the IGBC rating, there was only green building certification and no separate norms for green building factory. But their vision was to follow the company’s statement for providing a green and safe environment, following which today Eureka Forbes’ green initiative is getting transmitted in the product concept. Each such product, with a few already in the pipeline, is expected to develop with due importance to its eco-friendly quotient. Going green is imperative in today’s world to ensure minimum use of non-renewable resources and to restrict pollution to the environment.