Do Sustainable Architects Make Money ?


The construction industry in India is booming with buildings consuming  40 percent of the energy use, 30 percent of raw material use, 20 per-cent of land use. There is no question that India should build green. An enormous demand for natural resources is generated by building construction also the waste produced by demolition and retrofitting is considerable. So unlike the rest of the developed world, the challenge is to make green. For those thinking “what green truly means?” click here.

In the wake of providing cost-effective and ecological solutions do sustainable architects make enough money to lead a decent life or the cost of doing good too much? Often it is thought that architecture in India is not a very lucrative profession, but when you consider the aspect of affordable, sustainable construction, the view becomes more prominent.

The idea of using materials which are locally available or manufacture on site like CSEB with fabricated roofing components optimized for cost, thermal comfort, material are valued less by the public than the glaze of glass. Architects who fight for finding better solutions suffer not only from the impatient capitalism but from organizations who consider a building can be green if its covered with glass. Though India is now the second largest market for green buildings. The trend is entirely market-driven and achieved with very little government support. Various agencies have grown up to stimulate the performance and rate, award stars to individual buildings.

The image of Laurie bake which was a pioneer in low-cost housing is fidgeting away. Across the country, various ideas of green building have emerged with multiple small or significant constructions advertised as greenest of green. But the point we have to realize is though the current market trends are slightly different, it doesn’t mean the rise of alternative is not possible.

India has seen a rise in sustainable and vernacular architecture firms which have paved the way for engaging in the development of the architectural curricula for the Indian context. They have addressed the idea of sustainable architecture practice which was almost non-existent in Indian cities. The latest market-driven surge in green building has had some success at bridging the gap between current building practices and true sustainability. Some of the leading sustainable architecture firms of India are :

  • Biome Environmental Solutions

Biome Environmental Solutions is a Bangalore-based design firm focused on ecology, architecture, and water.  The office’s diverse team includes designers, architects, civil and mechanical engineers and urban planners from various parts of India and abroad.  Created by the 2008 merger of Chitra K. Vishwanath Architects and Rainwater Club. Both organizations have operated since 1990 and bring their distinct talents to the new firm.


  • Ashok B Lall Architects

    Ashok B Lall, the principal at Ashok B Lall Architects, is committed to an architectural practice based on the principles of environmental sustainability and social responsibility. He has been engaged in architectural education since 1990 and has developed curricula and teaching methods to address ecological issues. His current interest is in developing strategies for sustainable urban development in the context of rapid urbanization.

 Ashok B Lall

  • Footprints E.A.R.T.H

Footprints E.A.R.T.H. is a professional service organization involved in environmental studies, architectural design, original research, alternative technology and affordable housing. Analysis, applied research and dissemination are tri-prong activities of the organization. Contextual relevance, socio-cultural appropriateness, affordability, sustainability, and humaneness are the primary concerns for the design at FOOTPRINTS E.A.R.T.H. It deals with diverse scales of projects ranging from eco townships, institutional campuses, mass housing schemes, slum improvement initiatives, residences, exhibitions, interior design as well as graphics and product designs. The practice is research-based, and the endeavor is to evolve development norms and standards which are indigenous and stems from socio-cultural realities of our contexts in India.


  • Dustudio – Auroville

Dustudio, Auroville is a collaborative, inter-disciplinary, architectural design practice based in Auroville, India & Inspired by ancient Indian thought & wisdom. The work of Dustudio aims to create an active link between past, present, and future of building traditions in the Indian context, using the existing traditional knowledge base as well as innovating within the framework of its social relevance, economic viability, environmental impact and culturally rooted aesthetics. As a collaborative nature of its practice, it has strong links with the craftsmen, non-government organizations, corporate social programs and like-minded contemporary architectural practices around the country.


  • Hunnarshala Foundation 

The genesis of Hunnarshala lies in the collaborations and associations that were built after 2001 earthquake in Kutch with an objective to capacitate people for reconstruction of their habitat. Post-quake rebuilding saw a large-scale implementation of earth construction. It was a process in which artisans emerged as bearers of tremendous knowledge, and the strengths of traditional building systems and forms were revealed.

Hunnarshala Foundation

In the process of identifying what is appropriate, we should locate the “NEEDS” from the “Wants” by eliminating the unnecessary. Working on tight budget constraints demand sanctioning of nothing but the essential. Though in today’s time and age where money drives everything it takes a lot of courage to work on the appropriate and the right. Architects are professionals who will build a better future for the country and should work on creating awareness among people towards affordable and sustainable architecture.

On the other end, affordable, low-cost technologies, such as mud architecture, are already available; however, these do not fit in with the aspirations of the urban population. Affordable technology-based solutions are thus seen as the only means of addressing environmental degradation.

The answer to the question does sustainable architects make money is yes, they do but making money is not always essential. The ethics and moral of people should be far superior to monetary gains, and if the current trends are to continue, there will be a significant rise in the industry.

There is a tree here, there is one there and a third one there. I do not want to cut any trees and this principle has much to do with the shape of a house.

– Laurie Baker

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A perseverant and passionate person creating a knowledge sharing culture .

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