Ladakh – The Land at Risk!
Ladakh has one of the most extreme climates known to mankind – cold and arid with temperatures ranging from minus 30°C in winters to plus 30 °C in summers. Glacial melt is the only source of water here and many regions experience cold and dry howling winds periodically. Yet, the Ladakhis have not merely survived but thrived here through indegenious wisdom and knowledge passed from one generation to another.
Architecture and building techniques is one such example. Communities and villages got together and build houses using materials available in their immediate surroundings – walls were built of stone or mud (rammed earth or sun-dried adobe bricks), roofs were made with local poplar wood beams and willow twigs covered with grass/straw and mud/clay as various insulation
Passive Solar Design – Enjoying the Gift called the ‘Sun’!
In an interesting contrast, the extreme cold climate of Ladakh and its high altitude is blessed with 300 sunny days every year. It receives the highest amount of radiation in the country which is about 7-7.5 kWh per square meter per day.
With passive solar design strategies, this free energy can be used to meet space heating needs of the buildings with as high as 80 – 90% efficiency. This would not only mean saving hundreds of crores of rupees in foreign exchange but also help in maintaining energy security of the region, as well as reducing the burden of GHG and black soot emissions.
Passive solar heating design strategies coupled with earthen construction techniques will put Ladakh on a fast track mode of achieving the PM’s vision of Carbon Neutral Ladakh, besides improving the living condition of the residents and bringing basic facilities like availability of year-round flowing tap water in the buildings. With this in mind, several organisations like LEDeG, SECMOL, HIAL and Sheshyon have been trying to promote this clean technology for decades. At Shesyon, we bring the experience developed over the last 30 years through extensive research on new construction materials and design to achieve new performance benchmarks initially unimaginable! To state simply, “we prefer to use the free earth below our feet and the free sun above our heads to design and construct comfortable living spaces for all.”