Image: George Steinmetz / Corbis Capsule Hotels
These hotels that have rooms smaller than tents have become a fad in Japan, where they are preferred by cost-cutting executives visiting Tokyo and other larger cities. The rooms are small cabins with bedding and a computer with Internet connectivity. Imagine having such hotels in places such as Pahargunj in Delhi, which have become congested and overcrowded with numerous lodges and hotels. The capsule hotels would help cut energy costs by 40 percent, compared with regular hotels. Since these hotels function as a sleep-and-bathe service provider, consumption of water too is regulated. Most importantly, a capsule hotel can be built using less space.Image: ReutersLow-cost bamboo houses
There are several designs available for low-cost bamboo houses. Studies show that processing of bamboo requires only 1/8th the energy for processing of concrete and 1/3rd of that of wood to create building material of the same capacity. Compared to steel, bamboo needs only 1/50 of the energy for processing. Due to the lightweight and favourable elastic properties of bamboo, buildings made from it are good at resisting earthquakes.Rain water barrels
This is one green idea that you can implement at home. Barrels or large drums to hold rain water run-offs from your roof or terrace can be the solution to domestic water woes. Given that city-wide grids to harvest rain water are still largely only on paper, start off on your own at home. You’ll need a large drum, a pipe to connect the drum to the roof and a filter (thin layers of sponge or folded cotton cloth). You’ll need to clean the terrace once and not collect the water from the first rain.Building material from paper pulp, cloth
Texas Tech engineering students are testing Building Blox, cinderblock-style construction materials that are, basically, bulletproof papier mache. The blocks are made from a slurry of recycled newspapers, phone books, and lottery tickets, but they’re twice as strong as cinderblocks, despite weighing a third as much. They also improve a home’s energy efficiency by insulating better than cinderblocks — not to mention being fire-resistant and strong enough to absorb the energy from a bullet. Who knew paper houses could be so badass? Someone go tell the three little pigs! Image: Dean Conger / Corbis
Giant ice sheets to cool cities
Climate change and global warming are making Ulan Bator, capital city of Mongolia, uncomfortably warm in summer. Instead of sitting back while citizens crank up their energy-sucking air conditioning, the Ulan Bator government is giving cash to scientists for a grandiose experiment: Preserving freezing winter temperatures in massive blocks of ice, the hope being that the ‘ice shields’ will cool the city and provide drinking water as they melt.
(This story appears in the 06 January, 2012 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)