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Managing a bore well to ensure long life – Collection from Hindu Articles.

Ensure that there is no wastewater infiltration, writes S.Vishwanath

A borewell in every house and apartment seems to be the motto of our cities. With irregular and short
water supply from city networks and no water made available for construction purpose, borewells have
become a necessity for providing supplemental water. Understanding how to manage a borewell is,
therefore, very important to ensure its long life and to ensure a trouble-free service.

Ask for the log sheet from the borewell driller including soil strata information, depth of the borewell, the
number of fissures met, depth of static water level, depth and type of casing installed and steady water
yield based on a pump test.

A good driller will make available this information to all well owners. Keep this information safely for later

A recommendation on the type and capacity of the pump to be installed will come from the driller.

An over-capacity pump will cause intermittent pumping and will not result in best performance of the
borewell. Keep the information details of the pump installed and the depth at which it is placed.

Install a separate electricity meter, circuit breakers and a water meter on the borewell.

Take monthly readings of both the water meter and the electricity meter. This will enable you to calculate
the cost of water per kilo-litre from the borewell.

Test the quality of water from the borewell at the time of drilling and regularly at least once in six months.
Water quality testing should be from a BIS-accredited laboratory and should be with regard to parameters
identified under BIS 10500.

Keep an eye on nitrate levels, TDS levels and micro-biological contamination. These indicate
contamination from sewage or wastewater.

Ensure that there is no water logging near the borewell, no leaks in the pumpset and pipes and no
wastewater infiltration close to the borewell. Ensuring non-contamination of borewell is important if the
quality of the water is to be maintained for potable use.

Avoid leakage

Taking care of inspection chambers and sewage lines and ensuring that there is no blockage or leakage
will prevent the contamination of groundwater. Blocked manholes and leaking pipes outside the site
should be promptly reported and the matter pursued till action is taken by the authorities concerned.

Rainwater and stormwater drainage or recharge systems should be properly designed and maintained so
that no water accumulation occurs near the borewell.

Electrical lines and systems should be leak proof and of the best material and should be regularly checked
so that there is no leakage or short circuit.

A well-designed rainwater recharge system will ensure that the fall in water level because of drawal of
water through the borewell is compensated through recharge and also will improve the quality of

A borewell provides water security and a priceless commodity. Being waterwise is to recognise sources of
water that we depend on and take steps to ensure their sustainability.

www.rainwaterclub.org , www.arghyam.org , e-mail:zenrainman@gmail.com , Ph: 080-23644690

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Beat the heat

Reflective tiles help keep the roof cool

Cool and pretty: These white tiles make for aesthetics too.

To understand it best, take a barefoot walk on this roof at 2 p.m. when

the sun is at its fiercest best.

As you stroll around, place your palm on the granite topped, short pillar.
Your hands encounter burning heat. As for your feet, they feel no heat,
as it would be inside the house. The secret: V. Venkatakrishnan has laid
the terrace of his house with heat resistant tiles. At Rs. 50 per square
foot, it sounds like an expensive proportion, but as the tiles neither
retain heat nor allow heat to sink through them, the dwelling directly
beneath the terrace (which is normally a stiflingly hot living space), feels quite cool, and the room
temperature here is at least 8 degree Celsius less than the ambient temperature. There is no sensation of
radiation inside this living space. This means that you could save up to 40 per cent of your air conditioning
charges or perhaps do away with air conditioners altogether.

The tiles are constituted with cement and materials with infrared resistive properties. The white colour of
these tiles makes for sophisticated aesthetics too.


Just a month back, it was just a regular, barely-used backside balcony atop the kitchen in the ground
floor, until S. Kesavan decided to make it a useful ‘inside’ space.
The first need was walls for privacy. But rather than enclosing this
space with solid walls for gaining privacy and security, Kesavan
opted for cement grills. The advantage of cement grills over iron
grills is that, for one thing, cement grills are rust proof.

The slant in the detailing of the cement grills ensures that while
rain slides outside and is kept away, light pours inside. Besides,
because of the slant, while the person inside can view the world
outside, the person outside will not be able to view the space
inside. Just a word of caution here, each square foot of cement grill
weighs at least four or five kg, so make sure that the balcony can
take the weight of the jaali walls and the new ceiling.

This five feet by seven and half feet space was given rustic red-oxide flooring. Add perhaps a harmonious
wooden recliner here, and with light filtering in dreamily through the jaali walls, this space now makes for
a great refuge for peaceful reading or relaxed contemplation, or if desired, for even a laundry room.

Tackling radiation from roof

Exfoliated Vermiculite Grade can give an helping hand, writes N. Anand

For those who have complains about heat radiation, thinking how to reduce it, Exfoliated Vermiculite
Grade gives a helping hand.

It acts like a best thermal insulator and hence an ideal substitute than any other weathering course
material; cold face insulator; fire proof material, water leakage arrester and insulation fill for homes.

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Developed by Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd (TAMIN), exfoliated Vermiculite is a non-metallic versatile material
available in five grades from 12 mm to below 1 mm. The first three grades are used in building activities,
grade-IV in horticultural or agricultural activities and grade-V in bio-technological activities.

N.R. Kamala, TAMIN, General Manager, Industrial Units explained that Vermiculite is a hydrated lamellar
mica group of minerals. When heated to a high degree of temperature, it exfoliates and expands 8 to 14
times in volume and yields exfoliated Vermiculite by loss of water molecules.

“It replaces the conventional method of weathering. All that one has to do is to tell your mason to add
grade I or grade III of exfoliated Vermiculite in the ratio of 1:1 with cement.

The mix should be in semi-solid condition. Apply the mix on the walls or on the ceiling.

To make it popular, we are selling at Rs 6.5-7.5 per kg (excluding VAT),” she said.

She further adds that some of the private contractors have used Exfoliated Vermiculite in their buildings
and it has resulted in drop in room temperature by nearly 5 degrees compared to the outside
temperature. Besides, it resulted in saving electricity costs, had less load bearing on structures, cost
effective and fuel in conservation.

The grade-IV material is a light weight compound for terrace garden and booster to soil health.

It requires less watering, retains moisture and nutrients, improves soil aeration, and improves drought
tolerance among other things.

Grade-V reduces usage of chemical fertilisers, reduces bulk density in soil, increases hydraulic conductivity
in soil, increases porosity in soil, gives maximum yield and fetches more revenue.

To have the wilderness effect

Rocks can be used to great visual effect to produce the feeling of wilderness, says Hema Vijay

Rocky beauty: The tree sports rough sandpaper like leaves.

Try breaking through into a rock. We can, of course, blast it into bits with
dynamite or drill through it electrically, but channeling a slender needle space
into it is a tough job. Imagine doing it with your finger or toe tips.

On the other hand, plants manage this with élan; root tips do it routinely, their
fragile appearances notwithstanding.

The curious fact about this is, roots often bore into the tiny cracks and crevices on rocks without breaking
the rock apart.

Wilderness does have a lot of lessons on display for ‘civilised’ society.

Metaphors apart, how do those slender roots manage it? Root tips secrete certain acids which dissolve the
rock at the point of contact. Talk about focused action!

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And since rocks are so reminiscent of untamed nature, rockery can be used to great effect to bring in the
feel of the wilderness.

Choose a porous rock or one with a coarse surface, with interesting, but untouched looks.

This 22-inch tall, 3-year-old creek sand paper tree raised by Bhagwan Sarathy is in the rock clinging style
(ishe- zuke) of bonsai.

To get started, first visualise the looks of trees growing in the mountains and hills.

Select a plant with long roots and drape a portion of the exposed roots of the plant over a sturdy rock
kept protruding from the soil in a shallow clay tray.

Cover it with peat muck, or a thick paste of moss and soil. If required, use a metal gauze (that allows the
peat muck to breathe) to hold the peat muck firmly around the roots draped over the rock. Then what?

In a few months, the roots will begin to cling on to the rock, and in some years will penetrate through the
rock and reach the soil on which the rock is placed.

As its name suggests, the tree sports rough sandpaper like leaves. In nature, it reaches dimensions of 20-
40 feet height.

The creek sandpaper’s dark brown trunk and its elliptical leaves bring forth a great wilderness effect with

Small is beautiful

The height of these plants remains less than 15 cm, writes Hema Vijay
Tiny but elegant: Mame bonsai is the smallest among the miniature plants.

Tiny but elegant: Mame bonsai is the smallest among the miniature

See these tiny trees? The cascading jade, slanting croton with curly branches,
multi-trunk Chinese bamboo, flowering mini-Christ thorn, slanting wild fig and
upright pencil cactus and the mini-Christ thorn again (arranged from top left to
bottom right)… these are Mame bonsai, the smallest among the miniature plants

Also known as Shohin bonsai, the height of these plants remains less than 15 cm,
and sometimes may be just 3cm tall! Actually, these are quite easy to raise,
assuming the necessary measures are taken. Boxwood, variegated hibiscus, adenium, miniature
pomegranate and ixoraare suitable to grow as Mame in our weather conditions, says Molly Cherian, who
maintains a nice collection of Mame bonsai.

The Mame bonsai trees seen here are around five years old, while the bonsai fig is just a few months old.
Trees with small leaves are selected for growing Mame bonsai.

And choose tiny ceramic pots of just 3cm depth, with drainage holes and small feet to prevent water

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A mixture of compost, garden soil, cow dung and sand are used for potting. The soil should be porous.
Avoid very fine particles.

Protect the Mame from excess heat by spraying and frequent watering, warns Molly. Pinching the shoot tip
and cutting root tip is useful to grow them compact. Cut off the roots coming out of the drain hole. Wiring
method is very rarely used, Molly says.

Take heart, all these stringent efforts will bear fruit; the Mame Bonsaiare is ready for display much faster
than other types of Bonsai. So then, do you want to hold a tree on your palm?


Acourtyard can be a delightful space, but space constraints can keep

it out of reach - or out of your home, to be precise. A solution to this
might be to slip in the courtyard in a non- conventional location;
perhaps on the first floor. And it really need not be a central
courtyard. Sasidevi Shivakumar's first floor courtyard is positioned
right at the outer end of her house, and you step into the courtyard
.from the first floor lounge

Privacy is ensured by a wall (with rectangular openings cut out for

ventilation) at the outer end. The informal first floor lounge is
positioned a couple of inches above the courtyard floor to ensure that water does not run in. Rain water
falling down on the courtyard is drained out through a pipeline in the corner. Mosquitoes are not a
?problem, Sasidevi assures. The first floor effect, perhaps

For security reasons Shivakumar has roofed the courtyard with pergolas, which let in light and air.
Wooden pillars flank the entrance to the courtyard. To complete the courtyard look, Sasidevi has given the
courtyard a rustic combination of clay and stone tile flooring, soil space for greenery on the borders, a
tulsi madam in the centre, and stone ledges on the walls for depositing knick knacks. Plans are also afoot
?.to raise a tree there

Cool your home with right choice

The `Star Rating’ to label air conditioners helps evaluate their efficiencies, says Mansoor Bhavnagarwala

The heat is on! Our choices for buying air conditioners are innumerable. How do we go about making our
choice? A close reading of the facts and information about air conditioners will help us make an intelligent
choice. The machine we buy should be efficient while giving us comfort.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has come out with a `Star Rating’ programme to label air
conditioners based on their efficiencies. It is just like teachers mark our test or our lessons in school with
star if we have done well, similarly the more efficient the machine the more stars it gets.

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Star rating

The star rating for air conditioners is determined differently from other appliances.

For air conditioners, the measure of energy efficiency is the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). The EER is
defined as the capacity of output cooling divided by the input Electrical Power. Typically, EER is in the
range 2.0 to 3.5 (meaning that the cooling output is 2 to 3.5 times greater than the power input, or an
efficiency of 200% to 350%).

The Star Rating Index (SRI) is calculated on the tested values for energy and capacity.

The energy is measured in a single power unit (Watts) for simplicity (thermal or electric).

Just following the table the savings in the power bill can be easily understood. For example a 1.5 tonne air
conditioner 2 star rated machine would have an annual saving of Rs. 1707 over a non-rated air
conditioner unit.

The total annual consumption works out to (11074-1707) or Rs. 9637 per annum.

This calculation for a year has been done considering 252 days for 8 hours a day, considering the
compressor or the major power consuming equipment will be operational for 75 % of the time. This is
simple to visualise. The unit is operating the entire year over various seasons, and times of the day. To
take into account this difference against the peak power it consumes it has been found that the actual
power will be 75 % of this maximum power.

The second table gives the power consumption of the units in watts against the cooling capacity in watts.

The cooling capacity is given in the blue shading and the electric power is given in red.

Take the example of the 1.5 tonne again and compare a non star rated against a 2 star rated you can see
the cooling capacity is 5271 watts and the electric power has dropped from 2401 electrical watts of a non
star rated machine to 2031 electrical watts of a 2 star rated unit.

A Calculator is given by BEE and can be accessed at http://www.saveenergy.co.in

One can easily realize that the difference in the initial cost between the star rated and non star rated
machine can be recovered within one to one and half years depending on your choice and state you live

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Dos and donts

To further make your equipment even more efficient a list of do’s and don’ts are listed below:

Use ceiling or table fan as first line of defence against summer heat. Ceiling fans, for instance, cost about
30 paise an hour to operate - much less than air conditioners (Rs.10.00 per hour).

You can reduce air-conditioning energy use by as much as 40 per cent by shading your home’s windows
and walls. Plant trees and shrubs to keep the day’s hottest sun off your house.

One will use 3 to 5 per cent less energy for each degree air conditioner is set above 22°C (71.5°F), so set
the thermostat of room air conditioner at 27°C (80.6°F) to provide the most comfort at the least cost.

Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the

A good air conditioner will cool and dehumidify a room in about 30 minutes, so use a timer and leave the
unit off for some time.

Keep doors to air-conditioned rooms closed as often as possible. Clean the air-conditioner filter every
month. A dirty air filter reduces airflow and may damage the unit. Clean filters enable the unit to cool
down quickly and use less energy. Do not have any obstruction in and around the air conditioner which
will hamper the flow of cold air.

If room air conditioner is older and needs repair, it’s likely to be very inefficient. It may work out cheaper
on life cycle costing to buy a new energy-efficient air conditioner. Normal life of a room air conditioner is
five to seven years. BEE has further elaborated tables for commercial and industrial applications to ensure
the entire gamut of air conditioning equipment is covered for a comprehensive reduction of power.

ISHRAE(Indian Society Of Heating & Refrigeration & Air conditioning Engineers) has started a campaign
“save energy” by just setting your thermostat at 27°C instead of 24°C.

HVAC Consultant (H & H Consulting) President ISHRAE Chennai Chapter email:


Greening from inside, a better option

In an Indian setting, the east and west windows are the primary sources of solar heat gain and should be
eliminated or reduced in size, writes Deepti Adlakha

Inventive design: Architectural design requires

judicious planning, especially for eco reasons.

All that is touted to be green need not necessarily prove

to be sustainable in the long run. Architectural design can
turn out to be energy consuming and expensive if not
judiciously planned and executed from the preliminary
stages. This can result in unintended consequences such
as high operation costs and ineffective, unproductive
environments for the occupants.

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Superimposing active technology add-ons and equipment to achieve green goals once the shell of the
building is constructed can also lead to disastrous scenarios. Sometimes newer buildings, though equipped
with more energy efficient machinery and equipment, end up exploiting the energy resources.

The recently organised ISHRAE (Indian Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers)
seminar focused on ethical solutions to arrest this indiscriminate energy increase while serving to dispel
the widespread notion of green buildings publicised as being more costly than conventionally designed

Passive strategies

The building configuration and orientation in relation to the local climate determines the amount of
radiation it receives. The orientation, with respect to air patterns, also affects the amount of natural
ventilation possible.

In an Indian setting, the east and west windows are the primary sources of solar heat gain and should be
eliminated or reduced in size. Although each site has its own specific constraints, the building should
preferably be placed with its longer sides facing north- south. It is also advisable to place the non-air
conditioned spaces (garages, closets, vertical movement cores, toilets and other buffer places) along the
eastern and western sides. Orientation for taking advantage of breezes in warm and humid climate and for
prevention of hot winds in hot and dry climates is also critical along with solar heat control. As Mr. Ashish
Rakheja, CEO, Spectral Building Services Consultants, expressed “Rather than aping the west and
introducing alien concepts that are unfavourable to our local conditions, we must prudently utilise our
resources. In a country like India blessed with sunshine year-round, it is imperative to capitalise on this by
appropriate orientation and placement of openings to let in abundant natural light. This can minimise the
need for use of artificial lighting during daytime.”

Various software and building modelling techniques are available to aid planners and architects during the
design process. Building simulation using this technology can help one arrive at exact computations for
incident heat gain, solar elevation angle, surface exposure and shadow areas etc. Envelope optimisation
and window sizing for optimum indoor day lighting can ensure greater energy savings. Appropriate facade
design, solid-glazed area ratio and suitable thermal insulation are some modes suggested to enhance
energy efficiency.

“Reducing the glazed surface to about 40 percent of the wall surface can result in savings of almost 8 per
cent in electricity consumption over a period of time. An immediate fallout is decreased operational costs
making the building sustainable and economically profitable”, said Mr. Rakheja. The use of exterior
shading systems such as louvers, fins, recessed openings can also significantly reduce energy costs.
Shading devices like light shelves function as reflectors bouncing natural light deep into building interiors
for diffused day lighting.

Appropriate technology

The selection and procurement of materials has considerable energy implications. Materials embody
energy in production, transportation and use. Use of locally available material saves on fuel consumption
through reduced transportation requirements. Heavy mechanisation and transport can also be avoided by
employing site intensive production of building components.

Labour intensive rather than machine oriented construction processes ensure cost savings in addition to
providing large employment opportunities.

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Fast track construction, sealed interiors with reduced ventilation air exchange and the use of synthetic
building materials lead to unhealthy indoor air.

The sick building syndrome (SBS) is one of the major repercussions attributed to this. Indoor air quality
affects human health and working efficiency. It is essential to choose building materials with minimum
pollutant emissions.

Materials like fly ash blocks, filler slabs using broken bricks, glass and embedded plastic waste, low VOC
(volatile organic compounds) discharge paints etc. are cost effective and eco-friendly.

Putting the three ‘R’s to great effect

The three R’s of construction - Recycle, re-use and re-construct - are what Thoreau house’ in Bangalore,
built by S. Viswamurthy, speaks of
Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

Design of a kind: Ideas of a naturalist influenced the

octogenarian R. Viswamurthy’ to fashion an unique house
that is a treat to the senses.

Octogenarian R.Viswamurthy, retired from Hindustan Machine

Tools (HMT), is a star resident of R.T.Nagar in North Bangalore
in his own way.

His house on the 10th Main Road draws peering gazes from
people taking casual walks too.

Named ‘Thoreau house’ on a 60 x 90 site, . mud, stone and

wood mainly make up this house that cost Rs. 1 lakh and 60,000 for its practical design by Viswamurthy

With modest earnings at HMT, even using cement seemed a dream. “I was a die-hard admirer of writer
and naturalist Henry David Thoreau and his nature principles,” says Viswamurthy. “Although several
thoughts of the naturalist and his structures abroad had provided a treat to my senses, an amalgam of
ideas kept brewing in me. Finally it was Thoreau’s comment, ‘Never go along a beaten track,’ that
consumed me to go in for something different at nominal cost.”

It was a quite an effort in 1975 to buy this huge site from HMT Building Co-operative Society for
Rs.13,500 in instalments for Viswamurthy.

His planning was meticulous though. “I planted variety trees in my site before construction really started
and had them well-grown when my house was ready in the early 1980’s. I have never borrowed money,
and I wanted a house within my means.”

A look at his house number plate done with jute rope typifies his ‘recycle, re-use and re-construct’ mantra
speaking of his passion for old material and prudent ideas. And how did this whole recycle saga flag-off?

“I saw the old Central Telegraph office (in the GPO complex) being razed to the ground and insistently
spoke to the building contractors to obtain the old stone slabs for my construction. I got them for 30 paisa
a stone and had 14 lorry loads arrive at my site. I had studied the old building so much that even the

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corner-stones used there were re-laid in a similar arch to retain the old charm and have them unspoilt,”
he says.

Unique windows

If that was the starting point, consider Viswamurthy’s resourcefulness in wood and windows.

“Buying fresh wood seemed prohibitive. At that time HMT’s machinery that came in spruce wood boxes
were lying abandoned in the watch factory. I approached my office and bought them for Rs. 4000 (scrap
value) and used it for doors, windows, shutters, wardrobes and shelves. It wasn’t just the cost here, I got
them verified by two carpenters for quality and longevity, for spruce wood is used around the world for
building houses too,” he says.

Flooring was taken care of when he got Cuddappah slabs for one rupee a sq. ft. from an old British
bungalow being demolished.

“Mosaics were Rs.9 sq ft, those days and how could one think of it?” reminisces Viswamurthy. What takes
the cake, however, is his idea for windows. Devoid of chajjas (rafter support) and RCC lintels, the window
frame is pushed to the inner side for getting a box-type natural concrete cover on the outer. Glass for his
windows was from old-model car doors sourced from Russell Market old item shops, locally called gujaree.
Almost trapeze-shaped, and still with four corners, the idea of bringing them together for each and every
window seems an art more than looking bizarre, as one feels Viswamurthy hasn’t discarded his
engineering lessons too in UVCE. “I got the wooden frames done after I got these glass car window
frames,” he says.

“Don’t be in a hurry to junk anything, think hard and re-use, it helps you and society,” is his guiding
philosophy that is also seen in his outdoor tree-shaded spaces being used for children’s painting classes. “I
used up all the excavated foundation mud too from the site for my building,” he says with pride.



THE THINNAI : A classy threshold space

It is one of those subtle threshold spaces that

are disappearing from our cities; the thinnai.
Neither closed nor exposed, it is a wonderful
space that allows you to revel in the outdoors
without doing away with the comfort of the

Thinnais are often given the go-by in city

houses because they are considered passé, or because of want of space. But if you have the space for it,
you can have a wonderful thinnai - cool, sophisticated and bright, like advocate N. Rajendra.

This broad thinnai extends all over the front portion of Rajendra’s house, adding appeal to the façade of
the house. Textured off white walls, rustic-looking non-skid tile flooring, a ceiling that slopes down,

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relaxing cane furniture, sparse and ethnic knick knacks, lighting, and provision for plugging in a pedestal
fan make this a wonderful spot to catch up with your reading, chat with neighbours, or just to sit back and
soak in the beauty of the garden upfront.

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