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This one-of-a-kind mud hotel collects rain, has no air conditioning, and runs on solar power

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According to studies, construction is responsible for almost 30% of India’s air pollution, and in recent times, businesses are finding ways to become sustainable. A hotel in Chikmagalur is making strides towards redressing this imbalance. 

The Sunyata Hotel, which opened eight months ago, is a great example of sustainable construction and is occupied by the guests that pursue eco-friendly habits. What makes it unique is that the hotel uses technologies like solar energy and Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) to run efficiently without putting the load on nature. 

The construction materials used in building this hotel were sourced locally. Even the bricks used in the construction were eco-friendly and were produced from scratch with minimum cement and concrete. “At Sunyata, we have made sure that no drop of water used on the premises goes to waste,” Lokesh Gunjugnur, the owner of the hotel, said. 

From the beginning

Years ago, Lokesh had purchased an empty plot of land in Chikmagalur, the town where he grew up. Later in 2017, when he witnessed the tourism in the town booming, he decided to start a resort of his own. 

“I wanted my hotel to be unique and in favour of the environment — not only in terms of the way it operated, but also in terms of construction. I wanted to use materials that were not harmful to the environment. In the future, even if the building is being demolished, I wanted to ensure that the materials would become one with the earth again,” continued Lokesh, who is a software engineer based in Miami, USA.

To execute this idea, he approached Design Kacheri, a Bengaluru-based architecture firm, and Punit Y, a trained civil engineer from Auroville. 

The project required the use of soil from within a 15-mile radius of his property, as well as less than 5% limestone and cement, which were then baked into bricks.

Load-bearing structures were used instead of steel to raise and support the structure, along with used coconut shells and other pot fillers to keep the rooms cool and aesthetic. 

Natural cooling

Carrying forward the theme of innovation, the hotel also consists of a 10-foot-long PVC pipe that runs beneath the structure and serves as a cooling solution with air from the outside. 

How does it work? 

The air from the outside cools down as it passes through the pipe and is subsequently discharged through numerous outlets. Other than this, a chimney is also built on the ceilings of the rooms to serve as an exhaust for warm air. So no matter what the outside temperature is, this system keeps the rooms at a constant temperature of 18°c to 25°c.

A well was also dug on the property to conserve rainwater and enhance the groundwater levels. Special pavement bricks are also made to guide the falling rainwater to the community areas such as the parking lot or courtyard to the water table.

Even the greywater from the restrooms is not thrown away. The hotel has a system in place to purify the greywater which is later supplied to toilet flush tanks and is used to water the garden. 

With 11 rooms, a quaint courtyard and a local cafe, Sunyata hotel was opened to guests in January 2021 along with a small shop in the premises where they can buy handcrafted, environmentally friendly products manufactured by local artists. 

Lokesh believes this move will help the local artists promote their business. 

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4 Must Reads – Straight from Elon Musk’s recommendation list

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Elon Musk’s reading collection includes science fiction classics as well as complicated literature on cutting-edge technologies. His vision as the leader of some of the world’s most valuable companies makes it interesting to take a peek into the inner workings of his mind. Musk is also known for sharing his suggestions on social media. 

Let’s evaluate some fascinating reads from his recommendations.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson 

This book chronicles the ambitious and adventurous life of Apple’s brilliant entrepreneur and eccentric creator. Steve Jobs covers the man’s successful enterprises, beginning with his early experiences with spirituality and LSD and ending at the pinnacle as a worldwide technology superstar. This is a well-researched book that goes into the thinking of the man behind the world’s most valuable technological business.

Life 3.0, by Max Tegmark

The Brief Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Elon Musk’s latest book, is one of the few that explores the idea of AI being used for good rather than harm in the world. Max Tegmark, an MIT scientist, addresses how to keep Artificial Intelligence helpful to humans while simultaneously ensuring that technological progress is consistent with humanity’s long-term goals.

The Big Picture, by Sean M. Carroll

The Big Picture is a bold examination of the world we live in and how we may make sense of the vast majority of it through scientific thought. It teaches readers how to think about the most difficult things, such as the origins of life, awareness, and the cosmos itself, using a deductive approach. Sean Carroll is a practicing theoretical physicist with some unique philosophical perspectives. Sean invented the phrase “poetic naturalism”, which is addressed in the book.

Superintelligence, by Nick Bostrom

Superintelligence is intended to be a serious, hard-headed examination of the impending arrival of computers that are far smarter than humans. Musk has often warned about the dangers of unfettered Artificial Intelligence, and this book examines the pitfalls of taking technology too far too soon. 

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Freshwork’s inspiring success story makes employee crorepatis

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Freshworks IPO has made 500 employees crorepatis

Freshworks Inc., led by Girish Mathrubootham, became the first Indian Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company to get on the NASDAQ, which helped the valuation of the company reach a sky-high value of $13 billion.

Through stock options, around 500 of Girish’s employees turned into ‘crorepatis’, out of which 70 are said to be under 30.

Born to a former bank officer in 1975, Girish co-founded Freshdesk (now Freshworks) with Shan Krishnasamy in 2010. Atwell College from Australia was the first of many clients on board. The company managed to get 22 clients worldwide in the initial days.

Entrepreneurship is never a smooth journey, with success never guaranteed. “Success and happiness are two different things – One should focus on staying happy irrespective of what is happening around you. We always hold the key to our happiness,” says Girish.

Girish also mentions how grateful he is to all his employees and that the 500 new ‘crorepatis’ deserved a reward for their contribution over the years. About 4300 of Freshwork Inc’s employees globally hold equity options in the company.

Girish strongly believes in mentorship. He also founded SaaSBooMi, a community of founders who share hard-learned experiences by making these learnings available to all. “Passion and purpose are more important than almost anything else,” said Girish talking about young entrepreneurs looking to leave their mark. In the long run, he hopes to build a SaaS company that is recognized globally.

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Shaji Thomas: The Indian Superhero who is saving the Amazon Rainforest

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Global warming, forest depletion, and other hazardous effects on our environment have been increasing rapidly as days go by. There are still a few souls who do everything they can to make sure they somehow play a part in saving us from what is known as the end of our existence.

One such hero is Shaji Thomas. He has been in a fight for the last 26 years to protect and save the Amazon Rainforests of Brazil. Here is a look into his heroic struggle to ensure a better future for us all. 

Shaji Thomas: Guardian of the Amazon Rainforest

Shaji Thomas who hails from Kerala carried his bags and shifted to Brazil as a young student. This young smart superhero is now an environmental conservationist and a lawyer, but what is more fascinating about him is the fact that he stayed back after his education for one special cause.

Shaji Thomas decided to fight and protect the Amazon Forests of Brazil and the rights for the 60 plus communities that reside in the region. This passion began when he was in his mid-twenties and was a part of the Quilombola Community. 

The battle was not easy in the beginning. Thomas had to acquire Brazilian citizenship and become the only Indian-origin lawyer in the region. He stood up to the mafia and lived on a boat in the rivers of the Amazon for years. 

This superhero has been holding up a strong fight for years but there is still a lot of work to do. Climate change is something that has been on the rise leading to major destruction of the rainforests. Thomas claims that almost 20 sq. km burns every year due to forest fires.

Shaji Thomas is working hard every year and inspiring people all over the world to play their part to ensure that the Earth’s lungs are safeguarded, and we have a sustainable future.

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