EARTH DAY 2014 – THE GOOGLE DOODLE AND GREEN
All of us would have appreciated and enjoyed the Google doodle for this Earth day on April 22nd featuring a variety of species including the Rufous hummingbird, moon jellyfish, puffer fish, dung beetle, veiled chameleon, and the Japanese macaque. This leads us to reflect on the many trillions of species that inhabit our earth and Man’s unique position among them. Sadly, man is also responsible for a loss of a variety of species through his developmental activities.
Building structures destroys Habitat for animals, birds, insects and plants. When we talk of Green buildings, we focus primarily on saving power for man, saving water for man and enhancing the environment for man. We must not lose sight of the fact that other species too have a right to the resources of this world.
So how can Green Buildings enhance the habitat for other species of flora and fauna?
One Important feature is to retain as much of the original topography and flora as possible. Birds, animals and insects which already make a home there would not be disturbed much and would continue to live there after the building is done.
Roof Gardens can also become a great habitat for a birds, insects and small animals not to mention native species of plants. The roof garden would a relatively undisturbed area and will enhance the overall energy performance of the building as well as its aesthetics. Even small roof areas can house native species, where you can even grow vegetables and fruits!
Attract birds and insects by improving the variety of the vegetation and providing food for the birds and animals. Here is a video of a camera technician who feeds hundreds of parakeets daily in the hustle and bustle of the heart of Chennai (link to video here)
Making bird feeders and stocking it daily can attract a lot of birds which are slowly disappearing from the urban scene such as sparrows, parrots, cuckoo, etc. Even a small water body can attract frogs and other water insects.
Animals are bothered by artificial lights at night, as they do not have similar vision capacities as us. Make sure that your building exterior lights are kept to bare minimum levels. No Uplighters should be used. Landscape lighting should be as low as possible and used only to light pathways. Tree should definitely not be up lighted as they would be the hosts for many species at night.
Ensure the safety of the birds and animals around your building. Prefer Mechanical or biological pest control methods over Chemical methods or natural pesticides in only the quantities required. Unnecessary overhead wires and cables may cause injuries to some animals. Reflective glass in particular is very dangerous to birds. Birds cannot differentiate that what they see is only a reflection and likely to fly straight into it. If Reflective glass is installed, the refection must be broken by etching, fretting or other means of façade treatment.
With a little effort in design and some in maintenance, the green buildings can also become green habitats for a variety of species enhancing the richness of the building and enriching our experience of the building. And thanks to the Google Doodle for highlighting the beauty of these species.