Imagine a future when all houses generate their own electricity through either solar or wind power. They harvest and store rain water and use it as their primary source of water. They produce no waste, recycling products and composting organic waste, using the latter to grow their own vegetables and fruit trees.
Student participants at Vidyut, the multiFest hosted by students of the Amritapuri campus, didn’t have to go far to imagine such a future. They could see it veritably manifested in a life-size models of eco-friendly homes in a Science Village set up for the fest.
One home had solar panels to power the fan and CFL bulbs in use. The Amrita students built a solar tracker that aligned itself in the direction of maximum light intensity, helping increase the efficiency of solar panels. “We drew inspiration from a sunflower,” the excited students shared with the visitors who appreciated the exhibits.
Solar cookers and solar water heaters were other prominent displays in this home. Another home nearby was a hub for tiny windmills with horizontal blades, developed by an Amrita alumnus at IISc Bangalore. Mechanical energy produced by the windmills was converted into electrical energy in a generator and stepped up in a transformer. The hub could then potentially distribute energy to several other homes.
A pond nearby was used to store rain water. There was a biogas plant that generated electricity and soil pits to make compost in. Live demonstrations explained the differences between vermi composting; slow and passive composting; active, aerobic and thermophilic composting; and municipal solid waste composting.
“We all know that food prices are increasing,” stated Aaditya, second-year student of Integrated MSc (Maths and Physics). “Using compost, we can grow nutritious food in an organic way. Right outside one’s kitchen, we can mix dry leaves, cow dung and food waste to easily make compost.”
Yet another home showcased the architectural style of late Laurie Baker who had built may cost-effective and energy-efficient buildings, while residing in Kerala for over three decades. Smart design ideas such as a movable wall and a bookshelf-cum-study-table that economized on space, were also prominently displayed.
Other sustainable initiatives such as traffic crossings with solar powered traffic lights and good roads that saw more cycles and buses were promoted through posters and models.
“It’s the first time we are visiting a sustainable village like this. We learned new things here that will help us in protecting nature. We can use many of these ideas in our houses too,” shared Ayishka, a student from a Karunagapally school.