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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Construction sector urged to focus on sustainability

Daily Mirror: 11/10/2005" By Kelum Bandara

Dean of the Engineering Faculty of the Moratuwa University Prof. Ananda Jayawardane told the Daily Mirror FT in an exclusive interview, that construction projects should be carried out with minimum impact on the environment when using materials like sand, clay, water, aggregates and others.

A top engineer last week urged that the country’s construction sector should focus attention on sustainability in their development projects by resorting to cost-effective and environment friendly technology in the construction industry.

Dean of Engineering Faculty at the Moratuwa University Prof. Ananda Jayawardane told the Daily Mirror FT in an exclusive interview, that construction projects should be carried out with minimum impact on the environment when using materials like sand, clay, water, aggregates and others.

Prof. Jayawardane said that sea sand was utilized mostly in the construction industry now because sand mining in rivers caused environmental hazards.

“Sand obtained from beach sides can be salty because of its constant exposure to sea water, and therefore it is not suitable for the industry. However, the salt content in sand deposits in the seabed is less than those found on the beach. It is also suitable for constructions. And using sand deposits in the seabed can be an environmentally-friendly solution,” he said.

Recent researches had found that the salt content up to a certain level in sand does not have long-term adverse effects on constructions. He said that sand dunes found on land could also be used for constructing buildings after a washing process, and it would reduce environmental hazards. The university has invented blocks called rammed earth, which he cited as a cost-effective method to build houses.

“These blocks are made by compressing earth. A certain amount of sand and cement can also be used for the mixture to strengthen blocks further. This is an ideal solution for building houses with a single floor,” he said.

Referring to the gold award winning construction at the recently held Holcim Awards Ceremony in Beijing, China for the Asia-Pacific region, he said that the scheme successfully demonstrates how urban spaces can be integrated within the texture of traditional neighbourhoods without demolishing it completely, thus raising awareness of the importance of sustainability. Also convincing is the ethically sensitive engagement with local residents in order to gain insight into the extended families.

With acute attention given to cultural as well as contextual factors, the project raised the standards of social and physical space. Ecologically, the project offers important lessons in energy conservation by existing conditions, the use of local materials and cost-effective detailing. By proposing to reduce the consumption of material resources and pursue the regenerative capacities of design, the project provides sound evidence of how to achieve an economic balance. In addition, the scheme has relevance in showing how heritage can be conceived as an aesthetic asset in the development of a contemporary expression of urban environments.


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