Building of the week: CII-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre

The Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre is run by the Confederation of Indian Industry as a showcase for green technologies. It was built in Hyderabad in 2004 and was the first LEED Platinum certified building outside of the US.

The building uses passive design techniques to minimise the use of energy, and is shaped and oriented to capture prevailing winds and circulate them around and through the building. The wind is also used to drive evaporative cooling, with air passing over pools of water and shady planted areas. Two windcatchers, or wind towers, move warm air out through the top of the building.

Most of the roof is planted up as a green roof, providing insulation from the heat. The remaining third of the roof is clad with solar panels. Rainwater is captured and directed through the gardens and feeds the ponds, and the extensive gardens around the building include a series of natural filtering beds that process the building’s wastewater on site.

A number of traditional building techniques are used, such as ‘Jali walls’. These are perforated walls that allow the air to pass through, and that break up baking sunshine and cast light patterns. A colonnaded courtyard also echoes traditional forms, and the windcatchers are a Persian invention.

Local materials were used as much as possible, and many of them are recycled too. Bricks were made from fly ash from nearby industry, and this provides two thirds of the walls on site. Post-harvest sugarcane waste called bagasse was pressed into boards as an alternative to plywood.

Electric car charging points are available, but priority goes to cyclists, with generous bike storage and showers.

The Green Business Centre serves as a living demonstration of green building, and offers advice on energy efficiency, renewable energy and landscaping. There are many more green buildings in India today of course, many of them much more sophisticated and using more modern smart technologies alongside passive techniques. But the GBC was a real pioneer, and it has earned its place in history.


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