Understanding LEED NC – Sustainable Site: Prerequisite 1 Construction Activity Pollution Prevention

To reduce pollution from construction activities by controlling soil erosion, waterway sedimentation and airborne dust generation.


Create and implement an erosion and sedimentation control plan for all construction activities associated with the project. The plan must conform to erosion and sedimentation control requirements of Local Standards and Codes (OR) National Building Code of India (NBC), Part 10, Section 1, Chapters 4 & 5, whichever is more stringent.


SS 1 Points to remember


Potential Technologies & Strategies
Create an erosion and sedimentation control plan during the design phase of the project.

Consider employing strategies such as temporary and permanent seeding, mulching, earthen dikes, silt fencing, sediment traps and sediment basins.

National Building Codes of India (NBC) Part 10, section 1, chapter 4 – Protection of Landscape during Construction and chapter 5 – Soil and Water Conservation.

1. Timing of Construction

Construction work and erosion control applications shall be scheduled and sequenced during dry weather periods when the potential for erosion is the lowest.
Slope protection techniques to control erosion shall be used when construction during wet season is unavoidable.

2. Preservation of Existing Vegetation

This practice minimizes the amount of bare soil exposed to erosive forces.

All existing vegetation shall be marked on a site survey plan.  The landscape plan should indicate trees, which have been preserved, and also those, which had to be transplanted or removed clearly differentiating between these three categories.

Damage to roots shall be prevented during trenching, placing backfill, driving or parking heavy equipment, dumping of trash, oil, paint, and other materials detrimental to plant health by restricting these activities to outside the area of the canopy of the tree.

Trees will not be used for support; their trunks shall not be damaged by cutting and carving or by nailing posters, advertisements or other material.

Lighting of fires or carrying out heat or gas emitting construction activity within the ground, covered by canopy of the tree shall
not be permitted.

Young trees or saplings identified for preservation (height less than 2.00 m, 0.10 m trunk girth at 1.00 m height from finish
ground, 2.00 m crown diameter) within the construction site have to be protected using tree guards of approved specification.

Existing drainage patterns through or into any preservation area shall not be modified unless specifically directed by the Landscape Architect/Architect/Engineer-in-charge.
Existing grades shall be maintained around existing vegetation and lowering or raising the levels around the vegetation is not allowed unless specifically directed by the Landscape Architect/Architect/Engineer-in-charge.

3.  Staging Areas

Measures shall be followed for collecting runoff from construction areas and material storage sites; diverting water flow away from such polluted areas, so that pollutants do not mix with storm water runoff from undisturbed areas.
Temporary drainage channels, perimeter dike/swale, etc shall be constructed to carry the pollutant-laden water directly to treatment device or facility. The plan shall indicate how the above is accomplished on site, well in advance of the commencing of the construction activity.

4. Preservation of Topsoil

Topsoil removal and preservation shall be mandatory for development projects larger than 1.00 hectare.
Topsoil shall be stripped to a depth of 200 mm from areas proposed to be occupied by buildings, roads, paved areas and external services.

It shall be stockpiled to a height of 400 mm in designated areas and shall be re-applied to site during plantation of the proposed vegetation. Topsoil shall be separated from sub-soil debris and stones larger than 50 mm diameter. The stored topsoil may be used as finished grade for planting areas.

5. Spill Prevention and Control

Spill prevention and control plans shall be made, clearly stating measures to stop the source of the spill, to contain the spill, to dispose the contaminated material and hazardous wastes, and stating designation of personnel trained to prevent and control spills. Hazardous wastes include pesticides, paints, cleaners, petroleum products, fertilizers and solvents.

6. Sedimentation Basin
A temporary dam or basin at the lowest point of the site has to be constructed for collecting, trapping and storing sediment produced by the construction activities, together with a flow detention facility for reducing peak runoff rates. This would allow most of the sediments to settle before the runoff is directed towards the outfall.

7. Contour Trenching
Contour trenching is an earth embankment or ridge-and-channel arrangement constructed parallel to the contours along the face of the slope at regular intervals on long and steep slopes (in sloping areas with slopes greater than 10 percent) . They are used for
reducing runoff velocity, increasing the distance of overland runoff flow, and to hold moisture and minimize sediment loading of surface runoff.
Vegetative cover of tree and native grasses in the channels may be planted to stabilize the slopes and reduce erosion.

Contour Trenching
8. Mulching
Mulching shall be used with seeding and planting in steep slope areas (slopes greater than 33 percent) that are prone to heavy erosion. Netting or anchoring shall be used to hold it in place. Other surface runoff control measures like contour terracing to break up concentrated flows shall be installed prior to seeding and mulching. Materials such as straw, grass, grass hay and compost shall be placed on or  incorporated into the soil surface. In addition to stabilizing soils, mulching will reduce the storm water runoff over an area. Together with seeding or planting, mulching aids plant growth by holding the seed, fertilizers and topsoil in place. It retains moisture and insulates the soil against extreme temperatures.

9. Geo-grids
A deformed or non-deformed net like polymeric material used with foundation, soil, rock, earth or any other gee-technical engineering-related material as an integral part of the human-made project structure or system, called geo-grids may be used as control measure. On filling with lightly compacted soil or fine aggregate, a monolithic structure is created providing an effective means of confinement for unconsolidated materials within the cells and preventing their movement even on steep slopes. If required the area can then be seeded to maintain ‘green’ environment. he junctions have a central opening through which water can permeate ensuring that organic material receives moisture for rapid growth.

OVERVIEW: SS Prerequisite One.


Understanding Light

Light and Architecture

Light is a tricky phenomenon. While an optimum amount of light for the maximum possible period could have a significant impact on energy savings, it brings with it heat that would require additional energy to be spent on cooling down day-lit spaces.

Designers have long been playing with light and understand the extent of its effect on visual recognition. Yet, we still underestimate the impact that can be achieved through efficient lighting.

And while I list down the importance of light, I cannot ignore its health benefits. Recently, there have been a sudden interest in the health problems due to lack of lighting. Long hours in artificially lit spaces result in our body clock being thrown out of balance. Solar cycles link daily (circadian) and annual (circannual) rhythms in almost all animals, including humans (worldheathdesign). Many biological processes have diurnal patterns, such as cardiac, immune, endocrine, cellular regeneration and brain processes including learning. It isn’t just daylight that can affect our performance and mood, Artificial light has a significant impact. Warmer colors have been scientifically proved to assist sleep.

As natural light pours through a space,  highlighting the different materials and proportions, our understanding of the space is transformed. It is through reflectance and transmittance that we finally perceive an object. The most beautiful spaces are those that are animated through the changes in sun’s position. These transform the space into a story of marvel where light and material come together to have a remarkable impact in the general mood and understanding as you step into the room.


Tada Andao’s Chapel of Light


Tadao Ando – Koshino



Corbusier – Chapel at Longchamps, Notre Dame du Haut


Here are some Basic Concepts that will help you design better daylit spaces:

IESNA defines light as visually evaluated radiant energy. Color is determined by wave length. Starting with longest wave length (red) we proceed with the spectrum of orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, to arrive at the shortest visible wave length (highest frequency).


Lux: This is the metric unit of measure for illuminance of a surface.  Average maintained illuminance is the average of lux levels measured at various points in a defined area. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter.

Lumen: Unit of luminous flux; the flux emitted within a unit solid angle by a point source with
a uniform luminous intensity of one candela. One lux is one lumen per square meter.

Lux Lumen Candela


Luminaire: A luminaire is a complete lighting unit, consisting of a lamp or lamps together
with the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect the lamps, and connect the
lamps to the power supply.

Mounting height: The height of the fixture or lamp above the working plane.

Circuit watts: Total power consumption of lamps plus ballasts in the lighting feeder/circuit
under consideration.

Color Rendering Index (CRI): is a measure of the effect of light on the perceived color of
objects. A low CRI indicates that some colors may appear unnatural when illuminated by the

Installed Load Efficacy: This is the average maintained illuminance provided on a horizontal working plane per circuit watt with general lighting of an interior expressed in lux/W/m²

Installed Load efficacy ratio: This is the ratio of Target Load efficacy and Installed load

Rated luminous efficacy: The ratio of rated lumen output of the lamp and the rated power
consumption expressed in lumens per watt.
Room Index: This is a ratio, which relates the plan dimensions of the whole room to the
height between the working plane and the plane of the fittings.
Target Load Efficacy: The value of Installed load efficacy considered being achievable
under best efficiency, expressed in lux/W/m²
Utilisation factor (UF): This is the proportion of the luminous flux emitted by the lamps,
which reaches the working plane. It is a measure of the effectiveness of the lighting scheme.

 Basic Units


Understanding Principles

  1. The efficiency of a light source is indicated by luminous efficacy, lm/Watt. Manufacturers
    usually give this value after testing the lamps at laboratories. It is difficult to establish the
    luminous efficacy value of lamps at site conditions.
  2. All the light emitted by the lamp does not reach the work area. Some light is absorbed by
    the luminaire, walls, floors & roof etc. The illuminance measured, in lumens/m2 i.e. lux,
    indicates how much light i.e. lumens is available per sq. metre of the measurement plane.
  3. Target luminous efficacy (lm/Watts) of the light source is the ratio of lumens that can be
    made available at the work plane under best luminous efficacy of source, room reflectance,
    mounting height and the power consumption of the lamp circuit. Ideally, we would expect
    the target luminous efficacy to be available on the work plane.
  4. However, over a period of time the light output from the lamp gets reduced, room surfaces
    becomes dull, luminaires becomes dirty and hence the light available on the work plane
    deviates from the target value. The ratio of the actual luminous efficacy on the work plane
    and the target luminous efficacy at the work plane is the Installed Load Efficacy Ratio
  5. A second aspect of efficiency of utilisation is to take into account, the light available at task
    and non-task areas. Usually for commercial areas, the recommended illuminance at the
    non-task areas is at least one-third of the average task illuminance, while keeping a
    minimum illuminance required at the horizontal plane to be 20 lux. From illuminance
    measurements the ratio of illuminance at non task areas and task areas can be estimated
    to understand whether the non-task illuminance level is more than required or not.






Unending discussion with professionals, industrialists, businessmen has finally forced me to conclude that Green Rating is still only limited to a select few.

While most customers are open to a ‘greener’ building (as long as they don’t have to spend extra on it, which again is a skill that is left to the architect/ consultant to prove and convince), the affinity to spending on a rating system and its benefits are still not clear. I have also been through debates between professors who belong to a school of thought where a ‘tag’ isn’t important to save the Earth! Where sustainability or resource and energy saving (for them) has been a part of their lives even before this began as a sudden worldwide wave.

And while I still can’t decide, discuss or comment on whether a rating system has any long term benefits, or whether its assessment techniques are reliable, whether it is even really required, I would share what little I know of this extensive rating system, developed in the United Kingdom, BREEAM – Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology!



Understanding Kyoto Protocol

Kyoto Protocol is one of the most talked about UN initiatives amongst Building Consultants and Designers. Its the first time,at Kyoto, Japan, that a majority of UN member states came together to sign a legally binding treaty to reduce GHG emissions.

While many argue against its effectiveness, its impact cannot be understated. Like any other venture, at such a massive scale, glitches will need to be worked at, till then, Kyoto has at least managed to put into motion a structured wheel towards emission reduction and awareness.

Download Link : Kyoto Protocol

Light and Architecture

Light, eludes most of us due to its unpredictable nature. It takes an experienced designer, to not just ensure light penetration, but to modulate light into ambient masterpieces. Peter Zumthor and Axel Schultes have done just that.

The presentations look at their architecture analysing the complex effect of their simple solutions.

Habitat Destruction

To understand the need of sustainability, an integral concept which is fast catching up all over the world, its imperative to understand the extent of damage; in the smallest of ways, in places where we wouldn’t otherwise notice, in habits that are integrated in our lifestyles and impact that our everyday development has been unintentionally making.

This is a feeble attempt at understanding the repercussions that our casual evolution has on neighboring habitats.

Compiled by Nial Karnad, an aviation student with an undying love for nature and an eye for catching its tiniest nuances.

[Habitat Destruction]