Sahyadri Industries, a future-focused Indian company, claims it has developed a “wonder” material that is a wood-free, lightweight and asbestos-free alternative to conventional construction materials, providing an aesthetic and environment-friendly building board for the construction of villas, among other applications.
Called Ecopro, the fibre cement board has been produced in response to the global move towards sustainability and caters to the evolving needs of the construction industry while keeping in mind the demand for quality and enhanced aesthetics. The product is said to meet international standards and aims to revolutionise the building materials industry while boosting the offerings of sustainable solutions to the sector.
“At a time when our actions can have a global impact, Sahyadri Industries understands the need to be responsible and receptive and has therefore come up with Ecopro,” says M Satyanarayana, president of Sahyadri.
He says Ecopro can be used to quickly build a home or villa that offers good thermal protection and has a fine finish. The board has excellent K value and impact resistance, he adds.
These boards are made using high-pressure steam curing and meet BS 476 and ASTM E 84 standards in fire ratings and have good STC (sound transmission class) properties for wall applications. The boards are certified by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), he states.
In construction applications, Ecopro boards can also be used for exterior and interior walls, ceilings and mezzanine floors in thicknesses up to 18 mm, says Sahyadri pointing out that the boards are available in thicknesses ranging from 5 to 18 mm.
In a further move to offer added value, Sahyadri has also developed prefab technology for luxury villas and weekend homes incorporating Ecopro.
Speaking to Gulf Construction about the technology, Satyanarayana says: “This dry concept of construction reduces construction time and is an effective option to conventional methodology. It requires one-tenth the volume of water compared to plaster brick wall construction and takes one-third of the time required to build a similar area using conventional techniques.”
Contrary to the common misconception that prefabricated buildings are only meant for mobile homes, these units can be designed to incorporate modern designs and green materials including a diverse range of environment-friendly finishes and wall systems, he says.
Elaborating on the building method, Satyanarayana says the prefabricated building requires a concrete base as a plinth for erecting the construction. The concrete slab should have a minimum thickness of 150 mm, over which light gauge structural steel frames (LGSSF) are used to erect the walls and ceilings of the house.
As the frames are made of galvanised steel using cold rolled technology, the steel retains the GI (galvanised iron) coating which increases the life span of the structure and prevents rust from forming under harsh weather conditions.
Doors frames, window openings and ventilation can be accommodated in the structure at the planning stage or any time in the future.
While these walls are non-load bearing in nature, the technology used has made it easy to hang picture frames, TV and storage units and even a water closet (WC) in washrooms. The structure includes concealed electric and water supply services, which are easily accessible for maintenance.
The outer and inner skin of the wall and ceiling comprises Ecopro fibre cement board, available in thicknesses of 9 mm and 12 mm for walls, and 5 mm and 6 mm for ceiling applications.
These boards are screwed to the LGSS frame with the help of dry-wall screws and are fixed in such a way that none of the edges is in a line, being fixed in a staggered pattern on both sides of the wall, he says.
Based on customer and climatic requirements, the boards may be single or double layered on either side.
Walls constructed using Ecopro can provide an STC value of up to 70 dB and fire rating up to 240 minutes based on requirements.
Ceilings play a key role in enhancing the appearance of homes and Satyanarayana points out that Sahyadri’s concealed ceilings enhance both the aesthetics and performance of the structure. Made of cold-rolled GI with a 6- to 8-mm-thick Ecopro board screwed to it, these ceilings offer good thermal comfort and have a good NRC (noise reduction coefficient) value.
Satyanarayana says consumers are offered a choice of different environment-friendly finishes and wall systems. Since prefabricated homes are modular, it is easy for a home owner to add additional rooms or even include solar panels on the roofs. These houses can be customised to the client’s specific location and the climatic conditions, resulting in prefabricated homes that are much more flexible and modern than ever before, he says.
Sahyadri Industries is a well-known building materials manufacturer based at Pune. It manufactures cellulose-based cement board, offering a diverse portfolio of innovative, specialised and futuristic products. These include solutions for roofing, interior and exterior building products, security-enabled main doors, pre-engineered/hybrid building solutions and production of non-conventional energy.
The company’s initiatives in regard to renewable power generation have been acclaimed in the field of energy technology. It has set up 31 windmills in different parts of India including Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu with a total power output capacity of 23.2 MW.
“Wind World (India) – previously Enercon India – provided us with technological support in the form of supply, installation and commissioning of all these machines,” says Satyanarayana.
A socially active and responsible company, Sahyadri has constantly attempted to work towards social development. “By providing shelters in rural areas over the past three decades, Sahyadri has helped millions upgrade from thatched roofs to more durable solutions,” he says. “Prefabricated units have also been developed for small- to large-scale industries, poultries and cattle sheds, railways, bus terminals and cottages to promote better working conditions. This has generated employment opportunities for many skilled and unskilled workers.”
However, the company’s primary focus has been on slowly and steadily building a portfolio of sustainable products using environment-friendly raw materials and reducing the impact of global warming. The setting up of windmills is a step in this direction, he says.
Satyanarayana says Sahyadri’s technologies are not only provided for metropolitan, urban and rural areas in India but can also be applied elsewhere in the South Asian, Middle East, Gulf and African countries.