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Mangoes, ice-creams, cold water showers, and memories of summer vacations spent in our grandparents’ homes. Summers have many fond associations. But a not-so-fond summer visitor is the scorching heat and long power cuts, atleast, in most places of the country.
In the absence of the ubiquitous air-conditioners and air coolers, people employ ingenious methods to beat the heat – many of these being generations-old like drinking water from mud containers, khus curtains or flooding the terrace with water.
Taking help from such old and new ways, the Telangana government has implemented the Telengana Cool Roof programme, which has been receiving widespread praise.
Developed along with researchers from the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), this technique involves covering rooftops of buildings with materials such as lime plaster or ceramic tiles to reduce the ambient temperature inside the homes.
Pilot Project and Results
Two years ago, as part of a pilot project, the state government had laid white membranes on the rooftops of over 60 houses in Devarkonda Basthi in Banjara Hills in Hyderabad. The results have been positive so far.
Rajkiran Bilolikar, an Associate Professor at ASCI, closely involved in the programme, said:
It is definitely yielding good results. Many of the residents in the basthi are from low-income groups and cannot afford air conditioners or coolers. Living in tin or asbestos roofed structures or using tarpaulins, they had to face tough conditions. But covering the roofs of their houses with white membranes, helped in reducing the ambient temperature by two to three degrees and this makes a lot of difference.
The programme is using various techniques like coated cool roofs, membrane cool roofs, special cool roof materials tiled cool roofs, and green cool roofs to cover 1,00,000 sq m of roofs over the next year, and 30,00,000 sq m over five years in Hyderabad. Subsequently, it also aims to cover 83,00,000 sq m of roofs across the state I the coming five years.
How Does It Work?
The cool roofs reflect sunlight and absorb less heat. According to a report published by the Telangana government, depending on the setting, cool roofs can help lower indoor temperatures by 2 to 5°C (3.6 – 9°F) as compared to traditional terraces.
Additionally, this unique initiative aims to save energy and reduce the urban heat island effect (an urban area significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas owing to human activities). Such cool roofs also prevent seepage from during the rainy season.
“The cheapest option, a coating of lime plaster, can cost as little as Rs 20-40 per sq ft. The most expensive option, specially-designed ceramic tiles, can cost nearly Rs 100 per sq ft. These tiles are a semi-permanent option. We suggest them for high and middle-income groups,” said Mr Bilolikar.
To find out more about the use of lime as rooftop coating, TBI got in touch with Chennai-based architect Thirupurasundari Sevvel of Studio Conclave, who has been extensively working with artisans to revive traditional methods of flooring.
Shedding more light on the use of old methods to keep homes cooler, she says, “Lime Plaster has been around for centuries now. It is perfect for exterior plastering as it is highly durable (depending on the mixture and product quality).”
Thirupurasundari also says that it is essential to use good quality material to ensure maximum benefit from such techniques. “The three non-negotiable points I would look out for are the materials used, the technique followed, and the surface on which this is done,” she explains.
One of the many benefits of using lime is that it is climatically adaptive and is a breathing material, says Thirupurasundari. “Not just on terrace surfaces, it can also be used as an external finish,” she says.
Aiyanar, an artisan who has been working in the construction business for over three decades, says, “These are all time-tested, age-old techniques, which are making a comeback now. One of the reasons why people stopped using these techniques was because they were expensive and labour intensive. However, now seeing the benefits (cooler ambient temperatures, reduction in the need for air conditioners, and long-lasting effects), people are going back to them.”
Speaking about the revival of such techniques by the state government, he says, “It will of immense help if we had the administration backing us to continue practising these sustainable techniques.”
Featured image: Source
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)