Back in 2003, Anamika Prasad saw a gaping hole in the profession — a dearth, so to speak, of analytical expertise for designing energy and environmentally conscious buildings in India. This lacuna offered the alumnus of SPA (B.Arch, Delhi) and Arizona State University (Masters) an impetus to start Environmental Design Solutions (EDS) — but only after investing more than a decade working with a few global cutting-edge architecture firms. Soon she was joined by Gurneet Singh (architecture graduate from Chandigarh College of Architecture and Masters from International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad) and Tanmay Tathagat (also from SPA, with a Masters degree from the Arizona State University) as directors.
Tathagat reminisces, “EDS started off with offering design assistance and energy modelling as part of some of the first few certified green buildings in the country.” The firm soon became an indispensable part of collaborative design teams, integrating passive design, energy efficiency, daylighting, mechanical system design, and overall thermal comfort for hundreds of buildings in the first five years of EDS’s existence, and their work accounted for over 70% of the buildings certified green in those years.
Each project guided them onto the next, creating opportunities of learning and unlearning with each consecutive year. “We now have a tremendous wealth of experience of things that work, and most importantly, of things that don’t. The most important learning is that design matters. Technology is only an add-on to enhance good design, and not the other way round,” says Tathagat, who strongly believes that no amount of technology can make a building efficient or sustainable if the design approach is not appropriate. EDS has ensured a holistic approach to sustainability in projects spanning diverse typologies: from residences, townships, airports to even bicycle tracks. Geographically, the team has worked all over the country as well as in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the US.
EDS’s focus on sustainability has been a constant since its inception. They approach all design elements, including materials, energy and other systems as an integrated whole. The benefits of a truly sustainable design can be gauged from the lifecycle of the building. Their passion for all things green is ingrained in their DNA and they have been an intrinsic part of the design of several green building rating systems, such as LEED India, GRIHA, and Eco-Housing Assessment Criteria. The founders also helped develop the Indian Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC); rating systems for Philippines; and building energy codes for Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Guam, California (US) and Cyprus.

Looking Back

Working with Christopher Benninger and the Suzlon team on the Suzlon One Earth project was of great significance for EDS. “The project resulted in a high performance building, with sensitivity to design, comfort, aesthetics and engineering, (implemented) in a very complex and challenging environment,” explains Tathagat.

Looking forward

The proposed campus for the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) in Bengaluru will have digitally-augmented buildings and facilities to enable interdisciplinary teaching-learning, research and practice, and demonstrate the best examples of Indian design and traditional crafts.

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