By S.BS. Surendran
There was a time when we all lived connected to nature with a sense of deep gratitude for all that the bountiful Earth had given us. Living by the riverside, close to luscious woods, cultivating agricultural produce, breathing fresh, unpolluted air, it was a feeling of heaven on Earth, and no doubt our lifestyle was different and it was a stress-free life. Today, we can most certainly say that Bali is heaven on Earth, with good energy and positivity.
Ancient scriptures reveal that thousands of years ago, the monks, saints and hermits lived among trees in forests. They grasped the deep connection between nature and humankind, and it’s not surprising that in Western culture such a serene place was referred to as paradise, a transliteration of the Persian word pairidaeza, which referred to a walled garden.
In Hindu mythology, it is mentioned in the ancient scripts that “god resides and enjoys places where groves exist near rivers, mountains and ponds and in townships which have such pleasure gardens.” This, in simpler terms, or the modern-day context, means having a harmonious surrounding filled with nature’s beauty and living the natural way to a more fulfilling, healthy and peaceful life.
The effect of modernisation, large buildings and complexes springing up is obvious in terms of the depletion of the ozone layer due to the felling of trees, disturbing the ecological balance, an increase in the emission of noxious gases, and in turn making life more and more difficult for all of us. If only we could think of adapting more green products in our construction and home décor, making it eco-friendly, things may well turn for the better.
From the vaastu and feng shui perspective, the soil around a building needs to breathe; hence, planting trees around a house to filter the air and using paving blocks for terraces instead of cement, both of which are in line with green design principles, would be a creative and effective approach.
Green architecture, or green design, is an approach for reducing the harmful effects of buildings on human health and the environment. Vaastu and feng shui emphasises harmony and balance between humans and nature; moreover, the concept of green architecture has been supported by these ancient sciences for thousands of years.
Green in feng shui is the colour of renewal, fresh energy and new beginnings. Green represents the wood element; it also is said to nourish growth and health, and it calms your nerves and balances your body by bringing healing vibrations from nature. From the fresh spring colour of newly opened leaves to the strong green of a mighty oak tree – there are literally hundreds of greens to choose from in your feng shui applications. A great way to use green in feng shui is with plants that have lush green foliage.
Having proper ventilation systems, efficient heating and cooling, energy-efficient lighting techniques, having water fixtures and taps which can conserve the consumption of water, elaborate landscaping to enhance passive solar energy and in turn preserving the habitat are the basics of green design. Alternative power sources like solar energy and wind energy will ensure that natural resources are not depleted and adapting floorings which are non-synthetic and non-toxic would be good.
When it comes to construction materials the recent use of bamboo in construction in place of steel, wardrobes, doors and flooring has been found to be effective. Bamboo is one eco-friendly option as it is a fast-growing grass that can be selectively harvested annually. It is durable and harder than red oak and maple, has 50 percent less contraction and expansion than wood and is a renewable resource.
Another material which is equally effective is cork, an eco-friendly, renewable resource made from the bark of the cork oak tree. Only the bark is used, so the tree does not have to be cut down; hence, we are not damaging the vegetation.
The use of rubber in flooring and wall panels has also been found to be effective. Virgin rubber is derived from rubber trees, a renewable resource, and recycled rubber reduces the environmental burden of discarded vehicle tires.
If you wish to use regular methods and not get into unconventional materials, then tiles are good. Tiles are another eco-friendly, durable material, if you use tiles that contain recycled content.
Eco-friendly construction can not only help to create a better outdoor environment; it can also help to build a healthier indoor environment.
S.BS. Surendran is an accredited master feng shui consultant, traditional vaastu practitioner and bio-energetician based in Bangalore, India. He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org