Post 2 in a Series of 4: Ideas for Overcoming Challenges in Conventional Indian Building


Q&A Session with Anuj Dayama, who lives in Jaipur, India. Anuj works in the natural stone industry in India and is exploring advanced, “greener” building products and technology in hopes that he can introduce safer, cost-effective, and energy-efficient solutions to the Indian building community.


The Panelman Asks: What do you believe are some of the solutions to overcoming the challenges that conventional building methods present in India?

Anuj Answers: The green building movement is really gaining momentum here in India. (Check out the list of upcoming tradeshows below for an idea of just how much industry buzz is going on!). Many of us in the construction industry are exploring lightweight materials that can still hold strong in an earthquake, are resistant to corrosion and water damage, and that require less labor and energy to implement.

I attended the Metal  & Steel Building Systems Expo this past June here in India, and was amazed at all of the new building concepts coming to market that address our challenges. Magnesium Oxide (MgO) board in a SIPs application are most compatible with steel structures due to their low weight and very high fire resistance. A good approach for developing the market for MgO boards and  SIPs construction technology here can be through derivation of initial cost difference compared to other building systems, energy savings, and affordability in this highly cost-sensitive market. Good sourcing of raw materials, a cost effective marketing approach and maximum near site assembly of panels to save on transportation can result in lower labor and manufacturing costs. A huge potential still remains looking at the small number & variety of alternate building products currently available compared to India’s market size, growing needs and our great appetite for better, greener building products and technology.

Typical residential highrise in Mumbai, India

Pictured is a typical high-rise residential structure in Mumbai. High-rise building has fueled India's interest in greener, altnernative techniques like MgO SIPs.

Like Fred, I believe that MgO SIPs are an ideal solution to the challenges I have outlined. MgO SIPs could deliver the same load bearing and security that our standard 9” thick exterior brick/ concrete envelope walls provide for compatible roof systems – with much less material. In a modular application, MgO SIPs would reduce labor costs as pre-fabricated components could be assembled on site. The water damage issue would also be solved as magnesium oxide is naturally resistant to corrosion and mold/mildew growth. I believe that MgO boards could replace gypsum, fiber cement, calcium silicate, plywood, and other problem-prone building materials here in India. Just like in the U.S., we need to work together to promote these advantages to the public – and the entire building community.




Green Building Organizations and Websites to Reference   An organization established by USGBC in India  This organization also certifies green buildings, like IGBC  Bureau oF Energy Efficiency that rates buildings according to energy use

Fall 2010 Green Building Events in India

  • Green Building Congress 2010, October 6-9 2010 at Chennai Trade Centre, Chennai
  • ZAK: Innovative, Lightweight, Faster, & Sustainable Building Construction Technology Expo Sep 30.  Oct. 3, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai
  • ET ACETECH Chennai Trade Centre, November 26-18

Construction is messy. And I’m not just talking about your basic home improvement project (although, is there anything worse than cleaning up drywall dust?). I’m talking about big construction. Each year, the U.S. construction industry generates 164,000 million tons of material waste and debris. This accounts for 30 percent of landfill content (EPA, 2004). And you thought plastic water bottles were a problem?

Now, I’m not blasting the construction industry. It’s a vibrant, necessary institution here in the U.S. But there are “greener” options those of us in the construction industry could consider – like modular construction. Modular construction involves subdividing a structural system into smaller parts. These parts can then be combined to create a customized final structure. It’s sort of a “plug and play” type of construction that requires less of a learning curve, less waste because the modular components are prefabricated, more consistent end structures, and labor savings for contractors. Modular building also allows for simplified expansion as additional modules can be seamlessly integrated into the end design.

Cleanroom constructed of modular panels.

A cleanroom constructed of modular panels.

As a custom structural panel laminator, I’ve supplied builders with prefabricated panels for modular structures. And I can say that these builders demand high-quality cores, surfaces, and laminations. Currently, the big users of our prefabricated panels for modular structures include: utility enclosures, communications buildings, recreation buildings, hurricane/tornado shelters, security booths, hazardous chemical storage, deployable kitchens, and portable classrooms.

 The Panelman wonders, why hasn’t modular building really taken off? It seems like a perfect tie-in for the current “green” mindset, it reduces energy, saves on labor, and provides a structurally sound end building. I’d like to hear what others out there have to say…

Want to read up on how modular building could fit into the U.S. construction industry? Check out this document by the Committee on Advancing Competitiveness and Productivity in Construction.