The way forward beyond Net ZERO: By Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah

December 03, 2021, 12:06 pm IST

Sustainability as such has no bench marks. The more you respect mother earth and create designs that are organic in built form and knit with nature, the environment becomes more lively and human. The building should not be a constituent of brick and concrete alone but should progressively grow and blossom like a flower and become an eternal part of landscape and its natural surrounding. It needs to be treated like a living organism and should breathe & be inter woven with the environment. 

My past 40 years of experience and passion for sustainable green architecture has progressed my thoughts. I feel like a proud father of every building which we have designed, like a father feels honored and proud when his son is settled with recognized profession of merit. Every building is a design challenge. Passive strategies towards respecting the site topography, orientation, wind directions and selection of appropriate materials and technology lead to sustainability. Maximizing daylight and minimizing heat gain in hot-dry and composite climate is one of the major concerns of planning. Conservation of water and energy by use of natural process of recycling, reuse and making the built environment off the grid is what perhaps is Net Zero. We need to look beyond net Zero. The rural & urban overlap demands for food and vegetation growth within the built environment. 

For a sustainable campus Integrated livable environment has been planned by our team where human habitat and agriculture for self-sufficiency co-exist. New technological advancements have been amalgamated to achieve a sustainable campus wherein human habitat and self-reliant eco-system of Flora & Fauna co-exist. This makes the IIT-Jodhpur campus a vision beyond net zero or net-positive. My professional journey of more than four decades from practice to teaching and authoring of books has provided me with insight into the minds of the young budding Architects as well as the professional community at large. This has given me an opportunity to comprehend the historical knowhow of our organic cities with the new innovative ideas of today. Our recently completed mega infrastructure global winning design for the Chennai Airport, has created a local jewel that could gain global recognition for its commitment to sustainability. Design of the terminals is day-lit with a carefully crafted narrow floor plate thus minimising the reliance on artificial light.


In this project a high level of sustainability in nearly every aspect of design including restoration of native landscape, passive energy conservation strategies, material selection, onsite storm water detention and on-site waste water treatment & dispersal systems is achieved. This project has also been termed as ‘The Greenest Airport’ by the Architectural Record, a global Architectural Journal. “Airports and Terminals are by nature energy guzzlers but Chennai Airport has proved that architects commitment to sustainability can make the structure regardless of typology and size environment friendly.” Our corporate buildings and campuses namely CRI Pumps, Suguna Poultry, REC, HPGCL, Oil India are truly demonstrating the green elements and adherence to ECBC code and not prescribing cosmetic interventions. 

Kongu convention centre with a capacity of 4500 person is a landmark largest sustainable development in Southern India. It demonstrates that sustainability does not always come with a cost. Here at Kongo we have realised a project of this scale and magnitude at our very bear minimum cost much cheaper.

Amudham Dairy Plant is another true example of affordable and sustainable landmark industrial complex which demonstrates the use of appropriate technology. Pursuance of sensitivity towards environmental design has not only achieved pleasing aesthetics but also daylight environment . Instead of short term business concerns we at Creative Group have inculcated within our team members the zeal and passion to blur the boundaries between enclosed and open space in an attempt to be more nearer to nature so that we can evolve beyond Net Zero. May we call the same as dream and fairy tales of today but reality of tomorrow. Let us march together towards green and look beyond Net Zero.