Chef’s Pick: EarthStudioJanuary 1, 2010
This corner is for individuals, events or groups who spin their own tales with a twist, and thereby make a difference to the way we live, see and feel things. We hunted around for an apt start to the column and zeroed in on a Delhi-based company as the first Chef’s Pick.
EarthStudio is a venture committed to the application of “green design principles in Building Science” and has been around since 2008. The primary goal of the company is to integrate environmental design principles with the physics of building to achieve the lowest consumption of energy, while maximizing comfort. We spoke to the Principal of EarthStudio, Mr. Gerald Pde. Following are the excerpts.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Shillong and moved out in the early nineties to pursue an undergraduate degree in Architecture. After completing the course in 1999, I returned to Shillong for a few months and worked as an architect. As I was always drawn towards nature and architecture, I decided to pursue a master’s in Environmental Design, which I did from the Arizona State University. Thereafter, I worked in New York for nearly 6 years as an Environmental Designer.
Tell us something about EarthStudio and its genesis. What was your inspiration?
I always wanted to return to India, but it took a long time before my wife and I finally took the plunge a year ago and set up EarthStudio. It is a design practice comprising of environmental designers, who are committed to the application of green design principles in buildings. We provide environmental design consultancy and building performance analysis to assist in the design of low-energy and climate responsive buildings. EarthStudio has been envisaged as two entities – a hardcore environmental consultancy, where we specialize in building performance modeling and environmental design; an architectural practice that will provide architectural design services primarily in the Northeast.
What is the USP of Earth Studio?
Considering that EarthStudio is itself in a very niche market, our specialization in terms of the delivery of environmental solutions is unique to the conventional market.
What is Environmental Design? Why should we go for it?
Environmental Design is the application of green or sustainable design principles in building and the larger built environment.
Most buildings today do not respond to factors such as climate and the environment. Conventional buildings do not address the issues of energy, water, economy and the health and well being of its occupants. This approach is unethical in today’s strained environment and has a number of long-term effects on buildings, users and the community as a whole.
Appropriately designed buildings (green building, ecological buildings etc) will try hard to address all these issues to arrive at a product that really works.
What are the costs involved in Environment Design? How affordable is it for the common man?
Incorporating environmental design strategies into building need not cost more. In fact, there have been instances when environmental design has saved a lot of money and energy due to the initial design and choice of materials. The concept has proved to reduce initial costs in terms of infrastructure and materials and operational costs in terms of energy, water, durability, insurance and the like. In addition, green buildings have been proved to increase property value by 10-25%, rapid lease-out and sales. There are other benefits such as improved health that reduces absentees, and the increase of productivity of people working in green buildings. All these when factored in make cost appear little.
Who are the other major players in this business?
There are a number of companies abroad that provide the service. In India, there is only a handful, but it is a growing practice and I do feel that once climate change and our lack of resources become a major issue, more people would consider it as an option and the demand will increase.
Tell us briefly about your clients.
Currently our clients are mostly from the US, Canada and the Middle-East. We have very few clients in India as these concepts have not really caught up yet.
Tell us about your team.
We are quite a small team. We have Valte Chongthu, who specializes in building simulations; Gilbert Lyngdoh, who is involved in Architectural Design; and me. We are also looking to hire a couple of more people for our Delhi Office. In addition, we partner with a couple of Architectural and Environmental Design practitioners in Delhi.
What are the credentials you look for while hiring someone?
She/he has to be smart, passionate about work and willing to learn.
How was your working experience in Shillong? How is it different from your work experience in other places?
To be really honest, it was not what I was hoping when we first started there. Shillong has a number of drawbacks such as infrastructure, connectivity and the lack of talented people. Shillong is also very easy going, which might work well with other organizations, but for us, where we really need to be ahead of the curve, it’s a major drawback. In addition, the lack of collaboration amongst other disciplines is non-existent in Shillong that makes innovation a major challenge.
Thank you Gerald. We wish you and your team all the success in life.
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