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Sustainable Infrastructure development must to take forward ‘Make in India’ initiative

As economy, particularly the manufacturing sector, is getting ready for a major push under “Make in India” initiative of the government, the need for sustainable infrastructure development is one of the key challenges. With the increasing demand of cement and bricks in the housing and infrastructure projects, there is going to be huge pressure on these industries. The current scenario necessitates developing eco-friendly and low cost variants of construction material to ensure economic interests do not undermine environmental concerns.

According to eminent environmentalist and Chairman, Development Alternatives (DA), Dr Ashok Khosla, “In the next three decades, we can expect even more new buildings and infrastructure to be built globally than the entire stock that exists today. No sector of the economy consumes more material than construction, and of all the materials used in construction, cement and bricks accounts for the largest share of resources that are extracted from nature.  Obviously, any saving of resources achieved through innovation can yield a huge benefit for the environment and thus to the economy. For people, eco-friendly construction material represents a sustainable wellbeing; for business, it represents more sustainable profits; for our resource base, it represents a sustainable future.  It’s a win-win-win for all.”

Eco-friendly cement technology: DA and 3 IITs conducting study

 In a major breakthrough, research institutes Development Alternatives (DA) along with 3 IITs (IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay and IIT-Madras) have put forward Low Carbon Cement called Limestone Calcined Clay Portland Cement or LC3cement. This project is supported by the Global Programme on Climate Change of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Government of Switzerland.

“The LC3 initiative provides a breakthrough in creating extra and augmented capacity of cement with the same amount of clinker production. The new cutting edge materials research  being carried out by the collaborating partners provides  new recipes for formulation of cement with mainstream raw materials being used by the cement industry in India; limestone, calcined clay and gypsum. The uptake of LC3 in India augurs well for the cement industry and the environment”, says Dr Arun Kumar, President, Development Alternatives.



·         Amount of money saved by cement industry: approximately Rs. 60,000 crores less capital investment needed over 8 years to double current annual capacity by 300 Million Tonnes.

·         Extension of limestone mine production by 50% to 60% , raising life of reserves from about 50 years, as estimated by industry to 75 years.

·         20% to 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from current average emissions of 0.82 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of cement produced (as per industry figures).

·         A production of 300 Million tonnes of LC3 will reduce emissions by approximately 80 Million tonnes of CO2 every year. This will double every 8 to 12 years as cement production rises.


Fly Ash Brick Technology

Development Alternatives (DA) has been working in several states of the country on developing fly-ash brick industry. These include Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Delhi, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana. According to DA’s recent report, “The Fly Ash Brick Industry in Bihar”, with around 6,000 kilns, the state of Bihar produces approximately 18 billion bricks per year. Fixed Chimney Kilns (FCKs), which are resource and energy intensive, are the predominant technology in the state. “Fired clay bricks consume around 2-4 million tonnes of coal per year leading to emissions of 4-6 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide (CO2) per year. They also emit sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides, and suspended particulate matter (SPM). Apart from coal, approximately 30 million cubic metres of soil is consumed by the sector per year. In Bihar, the usage of clay for bricks leaves barren almost 5,500 hectares of land annually,” says Dr. Arun Kumar, President, Development Alternatives.

In this scenario, it was extremely necessary to take initiatives for promoting cleaner brick production technologies and waste management. DA joined hands with Bihar State Pollution Control Board to encourage the production and usage of fly ash bricks in the state.

 The establishment of fly ash brick making units since 2006 has achieved the following in Bihar:

·         Produced 91.2 million bricks

·         Saved approximately 274,000 tonnes of soil

·         Saved 20,000 tonnes of coal

·         Saved approximately 63,000 tonnes of CO2


The report states that the current market share of fly ash bricks as part of the clay brick market share is only 0.33percent. If the optimal level of fly ash brick production is implemented, fly ash bricks could have almost 60 percent of today’s clay brick market share. These savings will have a major impact on the environment and can be achieved by 2025 if rigorous implementation of pro-fly ash policies takes place.

The current fly-ash industry in India is about 163 million tones. This comprises the 12,000 existing units that are catering to the demand. Since the growth of the industry has been exponential till now, it can lead to a phenomenal growth of 50,000 units in the next ten years.

Looking at the current growth, the market is expected to grow five times in the next decade. With these projections DA intends to make 20%-25% contribution to the market in the next decade. The areas of focus will be North, East and Central India.