“It’s important that people understand some of the science behind sustainability in order to avoid greenwashing. If you want to get into this field, you need to first make sure you are educated and aware.“~Sindhu Ranganath
This newsletter features Sindhu Ranganath, Sustainability Intern at the Global CO2 Initiative.
Sindhu holds a BA in architecture from SJB School of Architecture and Planning and M.Tech in GIS and Remote Sensing from CEPT University She is currently pursuing her MS in Environment and Sustainability from SEAS at the University of Michigan (U-M). Prior to Ann Arbor, she practiced and taught architecture and interior design for several years at her native in India. Although both of her parents are coffee aficionados, Sindhu has never had any coffee in her life.
How did you become interested in sustainable architecture?
Hailing from India, a land steeped in the wisdom of Vastu Shastra, a traditional architectural system, I was amazed at how its principles intertwine with climatology. Consider the kitchen’s placement as an example–positioned in the Agni (southeast) corner, with expansive windows opening up to the northeast, it brings in the subtle yet powerful gift of natural antibacterial effects from the sunlight while cooking. As the first space that springs to life with the dawn of a new day, orienting the fenestrations toward the north or east bathes the kitchen in a gentle, low-radiation daylight, creating a comfortable environment for cooking.
Most of my clients chose Vastu-compliant designs and favored conventional materials like concrete and steel. Their durability, familiarity, and most often the fact that the conventional materials do not have an additional “green premium” play a significant role in this preference. While many explored vernacular options like clay blocks or rammed earth, concrete still maintained its supremacy in the eyes of my clients. It’s precisely this paradox that ignited my passion for sustainability in the built environment. The quest for a building that marries design with eco-conscious materials became a personal mission.
My journey at U-M led me to a pivotal discovery: carbon capture technology, a potential game-changer in the quest for greener concrete. This revelation inspired my involvement in the research undertaken by GCI, driving me to explore sustainable construction materials and the broader vision of a net-zero built environment.