Sustainable Building

Part of TOFTigers Best Practice Series


The window for keeping within a 1.5°C rise in global warming and avoiding climate catastrophe is shrinking rapidly. The construction and operation of buildings accounts for the largest share of global energy use, 36%, and 39% of CO2 emissions. 11% of emissions are from building materials and products such as steel, cement and glass. If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world with up to 2.8 bn tones, surpassed only by China and the US. Planning for water efficiency, waste management and the sustainable use of natural resources are further critical issues.

The impact of existing buildings needs to be improved to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. New buildings are called to be carbon neutral or carbon positive, energy and water efficient, and sensitive to the landscape and cultural settings in which they sit and the resources they draw on.

Green architecture is good for business reducing operating costs, enhancing asset value and improving health and wellbeing.


Easy wins

Going For Gold


Kanha Earth Lodge, a winner of the All India Stone Architectural Awards, incorporates contemporary and traditional design. Buildings are made from locally sourced stone, mud plaster, terracotta tiles and recycled or sustainably sourced timber.  Roofs are triple layered to trap air to keep interiors cool and help conserve energy.

Read Case Study

A 10 kwh micro wind and solar power hybrid generation at Dhole’s Den is complemented by decentralised solar energy units for the kitchen, bungalow and other areas. Large windows, sliding doors, wide eaves and tree planting maximise the use of natural light and enable rooms to be kept cool without fans or air conditioning.

Read Case Study

Guest cottages at Forsyth Lodge are built with local materials using compressed mud, straw and claw tiles in the local style to blend into the surrounding area. A reed bed, filtration pits and lily ponds outside each guest room are part of a natural water treatment system enabling grey water to be recycled (see case study in Water Conservation and Treatment profile).

The main buildings and 52 guest cottages at Spice Village Thekkady are inspired by the indigenous dwellings of the local Mannan tribe using local wood, elephant grass thatch and wide eaves which provide natural cooling. Infrastructure includes solar power and biogas. Furniture in guest rooms is made from recycled pine.

Read Case Study

Guest accommodation and facilities at Evolve Back Kabini are built to reflect the local vernacular style and include an interpretation centre. The resort is carbon positive thanks to two off-site wind farms and also uses on-site solar power. The restored landscape helps to recharge groundwater and trees provide natural cooling.

Read Case Study

Twelve guest cottages or kutiyas (jungle village huts) at Mahua Kothi – Taj Safaris, have been built to reflect the local vernacular style. Walls are made with mud and husk for natural insulation. Handmade local pottery tiles are used for the roofs. Interiors continue the traditional theme (see case study in Cultural Heritage profile).

Treehouse Hideaway is designed to blend seamlessly into its forested environment with only five tree houses and a lounge and dining area built around a tree, pictured here. Natural light is maximised with 360-degree views of the undisturbed surrounding wooded landscape. Wood, the predominant material, is recycled timber or from approved forestry sources.

Only about 5% of Reni Pani lodge’s 35 acres is built on; the remaining area is covered with indigenous trees, plants and grasses left wild. Guest cottages built to reflect local architecture and low impact luxury tents have platforms for viewing wildlife.  Fencing is made from natural materials including lantana to avoid injury to animals.

Read Case Study


Correct at time of press. Information included may not be appropriate to every situation, destination and country and is intended for general guidance only and may be subject to change.

Photos © lodges featured,  Sycom Project Consultants, or other photographers listed. © The TOFTigers Initiative 2024. All rights reserved