Report by Guillaume Fabre & Sanjay Jain

Low-carbon Buildings (LCB) or Eco-friendly Buildings are buildings designed and constructed to release very little or no carbon at all during their lifetime. So by definition, a LCB is a building which emits significantly less GHG than regular buildings. This assessment report illustrates the embodied carbons of two projects Mud Decisions (with Earth Architecture, alternative construction) vs SUVI (Concrete structure, conventional building) by Tropic Responses

The carbon footprint (whole life embodied carbon of the building) of the Compressed Stabilized Earth Block Building (Mud Decisions project) is 192 kgCO2e/m2 vs 747 kgCO2e/m2 for the Concrete Structure Building (SUVI). We must precise that both projects are located in Bangalore, India.


It was a fine day when Client walked into our office. How clear he was about the project to be handed over to us. We don’t often get this lucky when a client wants only alternative construction; we saved the ant hill stories and clichéd save earth lullaby. Well we drew up a smart plan with a semi-basement, ground floor, mezzanine and first floor with a total of around 2750 sft. Although the Vaastu rules did some ruin, an interesting split level plan took shape. With good support from our Structural Consultant specific for CSEB construction, we detailed many openings for less or no steel that would be “Ample of Earth Will and Less of Concrete”. Also we were clear about the roofing system with filler, jack arches and brick vaults and the structure was to be load bearing.

Work began at site with precious patience and laborious details. Client had arranged a team that needed to be guided. Stabilized Earth, a good sunshine and how proud we were about the perfect cuboids. Like how a lego interests a child, the bricks made at our own site had a strange “Lego” affect on us. We were continuously trying out patterns to interest as a 2d canvas and which would work well with shadows.

Other technicalities followed: all the materials that would reach this site would be sourced within 5 -8 kms. The windows are of Honne wood with Mild Steel as grills for safety, here we scored less. The flooring would be granite, the MS centering for vault roof was to be reused as a railing. And the house finally shaped up with its humble walls, playful arches, rammed earth walls, graphical filler slabs and elated vault roof.

Quite simultaneously about 15 kms away we were executing another house (SUVI) with similar plot size in BTM layout. Here the consensus was for concrete blocks, regular RCC frame, UPVC windows and other finishes with a mammoth carbon foot print. Upon finishing the 2 projects we have drawn a comparative table to internalize and study. A study to reaffirm our belief and to charm and spread the message of aligning oneself to a more Sustainable Way of life.