RETREAT, a model of
The resource-efficient TERI retreat for
environmental awareness and training
Renewable energy is seen as an
effective option for ensuring access to modern energy services in our vast country. Local
and regional environmental problems associated with the generation of conventional energy
have provided a strong argument for enhancing the role of renewable energy within the
broad energy development plans of the country.
Click on the image to enlarge
With this in mind TERI
developed this complex at Gual Pahari, Gurgaon, as an example of sustainable habitat.
The Gual Pahari campus is
situated 35 km south of Delhi, at Gurgaon, Haryana, covering an area of 36.5 hectares of
beautifully landscaped surroundings. When TERI bought the land, it was totally rocky and
devoid of any vegetation. Intense plantation activities were undertaken by scientists and
researchers for improving the fertility of the land and today it is covered with lush
green forests and gardens full of beautiful flowers. Amidst this greenery and beauty lies
the RETREAT -- for the resource-efficient TERI retreat for environmental awareness and
training -- a model of sustainable habitat.
TERI has successfully built
this habitat, which integrates various forms of renewable energy sources and is an ideal
example for architects, builders, and others for the promotion of renewable energy
technologies in the country.
building is intended to serve as a model sustainable habitat, based on new and clean
technologies. During construction the following points were kept in mind.
The sun is a clean, abundant,
and free source of energy.
Underground cellars are cooler in summer and warmer in winters.
Deciduous trees shed their leaves in winter.
Micro-organisms can feed on waste water and thus help purify it.
All this has been incorporated
while building this resort and this has cut down the electricity requirements of the
facility by about 60%. The technology employed at the facility, incorporates the following
It is warm in winter and cool in summer.
Well-lit all the year round.
Set amidst a lush green landscape.
Marginally dependent on grid-fed electricity.
South view of building showing solar water
heating panels and solar chimney
Solar water heater
The RETREAT takes full advantage of the abundant solar energy and has used innovative ways
to tap this energy by installing 24 solar water heaters to provide 2000 litres of hot
water to the living quarters. Photovoltaic panels help capture solar energy and store it
in a bank of batteries, which is the main source of power at night. Individual panels,
power lights outside the building. Even the water pump is powered by solar panels.
The biomass gasifier is the main source of
power during the day
The biomass gasifier
During the day, the building is powered by a
biomass gasifier, which is fed by firewood, twigs, branches, and crop stubble from the
campus itself. In conventional devices that burn firewood directly, a large part of the
energy is lost. In a biomass gasifier this wood is burnt twice as efficiently. Any surplus
energy that is generated is used to recharge the battery bank. This battery bank is thus
served by two sources of power, namely the photovoltaic panels and the gasifier.
The underground earth
The temperature in the living area is
maintained at a comfortable 20° C to 30° C throughout the year, without the use of an
air conditioner. The concept is based on the observation that underground cellars are
naturally cooler in summers and warmer in winters. In ancient and medieval India, a
similar concept was applied in the construction of buildings such as that seen in the Red
Fort at Delhi. To circulate the air in the living area, each room has been fitted with a
solar chimney and the warm air rises and escapes through this chimney creating
an air current. Cool air from the underground tunnels, helped by two blowers fitted in the
tunnels, rush in to replace the warm air. In winter, the cold air in the rooms is replaced
by warm air from the tunnels.
Waste-water is recycled by the 'root zone'
techniques, in which the roots of plants with special capabilities are used to clean the
water which is used for irrigation purposes.
At this complex, a novel method to recycle
waste water for irrigation has been introduced. Sewage is collected in a settling tank and
the sludge settles at the bottom and a part of the waste is decomposed at this stage by
microbes. Next, the water passes through a bed of soil that also has some reeds, that
adapt well to water logged conditions. The roots of these plants act as a filter, removing
and absorbing many of the toxic substances from the waste water. The water that comes out
at this stage is of irrigation quality or even for bathing purposes.
The complex has modern methods
to harvest and store rainwater and ensures effective conservation of water. Efficient
flushing systems, aerated taps that deliver water at pre set rates, a centralized laundry
and other amenities are also provided.
A great deal of thought and
planning has gone into the construction of this complex at Gual Pahari. It is a concrete
reaffirmation of TERIs faith in its research and of its commitment to sustainable
For more detailed information ...