(April 20, 2023) The importance of green and sustainable buildings cannot be overstated in the context of today’s ever-growing climate crisis. As urbanisation continues to accelerate, the demand for new infrastructure increases, presenting a unique opportunity to shift towards sustainable construction practices that have a lasting positive impact on the environment. One person who is working hard towards this cause, is architect Medha Priya. Making waves in the fight against climate change by championing green and sustainable buildings, the young United Nations champion has dedicated her career to creating eco-friendly structures that not only benefit the environment but also help in reducing energy consumption.
“Sustainable architecture can play a crucial role in combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting energy efficiency, and reducing the environmental footprint of buildings,” the Global Indian said, while discussing the importance of sustainable building designs, adding, “Sustainable buildings prioritise the use of energy-efficient design strategies and thus reduce the energy demand of buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also incorporates design features such as green roofs, living walls, and rain gardens. These features can mitigate the urban heat island effect, reduce stormwater runoff, and improve air quality.”
Discovering a passion for sustainable architecture
The Bengaluru-based architect, who is currently a key member of the United Nation’s ‘We The Change’ initiative, had just completed her X standard when an incident shocked her. In April 2013, an eight-story garment factory building called Rana Plaza collapsed in Dhaka, killing 1,132 and injuring more than 2,500 people. The collapse was attributed to poor construction, substandard building materials, and disregard for construction codes. Known as one of the world’s worst industrial accidents owing to irresponsible decision-making and neglect, the incident greatly inspired Medha’s career choice.
“I had just completed my board examination when this incident took place. The incident was entirely preventable. At that age, I didn’t know anything about green spaces or sustainability, but all I knew was, someone has to make better spaces for people to live or work in and that was the beginning of my journey.” the architect said.
Soon after finishing school, the youngster joined the renowned Birla Institute of Technology to pursue an undergraduate course in architecture. It was while she was working on a college project that the architect realised how much harm unsustainable constructions do to the planet. Explaining her research, she said, “About 37 per cent of greenhouse gases comes out of the construction activity. When I realised how polluting it is to the planet, I decided to work for the environment and help the country make greener infrastructures. I joined one of the sustainability consultancies in Delhi where I got the opportunity to look at the designs of the buildings, approve construction materials and convey strategies to maintain good working conditions for the workers.”
Women power and the green movement
Currently pursuing her Masters in Design at the National Institute of Design, Bangalore, the young architect is running a global awareness programme about sustainable infrastructure. The architect is also a vocal champion of women’s leadership in the field and has been doing her bit to educate young girls about the current climate crisis with ‘ABC of SDGs’ classes. “If women are represented more in climate action decision-making, it will help mobilise communities and drive social and environmental change, especially at the grassroots level,” she said, during a press interaction, adding, “Women are more likely than men to experience the impacts of climate change, particularly in developing countries. They bring unique perspectives and solutions to the climate crisis, drawing on their experiences and knowledge of the communities they live in. By promoting women’s leadership in the climate movement, we can foster new ideas and approaches to addressing the climate crisis.”
Spreading the word
The architect, who goes to different colleges and schools now and then only to talk about the climate crisis the world is facing, sustainable development goals, and the need to achieve them for a safe and better world, has a big plan ahead. After completing her masters, she wishes to move ahead and design something which not just benefits a few hundred people living in a building but can help as many people as possible. “As infrastructure is an important sector for the overall development of any country, it is important to regulate and assess upcoming projects for their impact on the environment. I wish to move towards designing solutions that will help people overall,” said the champion.
- Follow Medha Priya on LinkedIn