Clean Tech

This is the house that green practices built

V Rishi Kumar | Updated on: Jan 01, 2019

The new ‘net zero energy building rating systems’ could prove to be a game changer in India’s drive towards energy efficiency. V Rishi Kumar reports

The year 2019 may prove to be the inflection point for green building movement and energy efficiency that could lead to India being a green champion in the future.

Driving the green dream in a big way is the CII-Indian Green Building Council formed in the IT hub of Hyderabad in 2000-01, with the country’s first platinum-rated centre of 20,000 sq ft coming up in 2003-04. By incorporating various standards and codes besides applying best practices, the Council has evolved rating systems for a number of sectors.

During the recent Green Building Congress, the Council introduced new rating systems, including ‘net zero energy building rating systems’, and for green resorts and green hill habitats. The net zero energy rating assesses buildings that are self-sufficient in energy — their energy requirement is met through their own generating system, be it solar or wind.

With modern buildings, particularly, needing cooling and heating systems, this rating system is expected to play a big role in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. While green buildings consume 25-30 per cent less energy, this has potential to be further brought down, say experts.

As the Council targets a green building footprint of 10 billion sq ft by the year 2022 when India will be @75 years of Independence, if the current pace of growth is anything to go by, this target may be achieved ahead of schedule.

Says V Suresh, Chairman, Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), “The green building movement is on an upward spiral. Our rating systems cover buildings of all asset classes, from campuses to smart cities, urban mobility and metros and even green villages. Special thrust is being given towards ‘green homes’ — with about 14 lakh homes and green footprint of 1.76 billion sq ft, covering residential units of all income categories, including affordable houses.”

This growth would not have been possible without the involvement of various stakeholders working towards a shared vision.

S Raghupathy, CII Deputy Director General, who has been spearheading the movement ever since the IGBC was created, says, “Projects from Jammu to Andaman, Surat to Shillong have adopted green ratings. The ratings have touched the lives of people from all sections of society, be it residents of rated green homes, students in green schools, commuters travelling through green metros, railways stations and airports, workers in green offices and factories or the common citizens living in green townships and green cities.”

Transforming old buildings too

With 25 ratings launched thus far by the IGBC, covering residential, commercial, industrial, healthcare, railways, campuses, townships and cities, there has also been significant movement in retrofitting and transforming older homes and properties.

Niranjan Hiranandani, President, Naredco, says, “In the uber-luxury segment of premium residential real estate, home buyers support measures that are less polluting or restrict damage to the environment — they are okay with the additional spend on a ‘green’ residential building.”

These buildings not only improve the environment and ecology, but can reduce energy consumption by 20-30 per cent, water usage by 30-50 per cent and significantly reduce waste generation by extensive recycling. With an estimated 5 per cent of Indian construction following the Green Building norms, there is definitely scope for future expansion and growth.

The government has come up with some guidelines that result in savings as regards land revenue, so that is an additional sweetener to prod those planning new projects to opt for a green building.

“The customer profile in residential real estate is changing, where the ‘new buyer’ segment — the Millennials — want homes that include some aspects of ‘green buildings.’ They ensure that developers focus on eco-friendly buildings,” Hiranandani says.

It is not just about construction methodology and building material usage but also enhancing the quality of life, for those who opt for such facilities.

C. Sekhar Reddy, former national president of Credai, explains, “What started with zero has now grown to 25 ratings. The number of accredited professionals has gone up to 3,000 and efforts are on to take this up to 10,000. We have barely touched the tip of the pyramid, now the focus is on expanding and reaching out to the bottom of the pyramid.”

“The foundation has been laid and now the Council has chapters in 22 States. Not only States, a number of cities, including smart cities such as Dolera, and the upcoming greenfield city of Amaravati are keen to develop into green cities,” says Reddy.

Aiding the green city push is a rapidly growing pool of GreenPro rated products, whose number has swelled to over 500, accounting for about 60 per cent of the cost of construction, excluding land and labour. The target is to take this to 90-100 per cent of the construction cost,” says Reddy.

The cost differential, which was about 18 per cent in 2003 with payback of 5-8 years, for a green building, has now come down to 1-3 per cent with 2-3 years payback.

Needed: Proactive govt support

While the green building movement is driven by the private sector thus far, in a voluntary mode, there is need for proactive support from the Centre and States to provide further impetus by considering some direct concessions to GreenPro-rated building products.

Secondly, buildings that have already gone green or are in the process may be offered municipal tax concessions so that they get incentivised.

“One of the things that States could do is encourage usage of GreenPro rated products so that they get mainstream faster and people are spurred to use them. Smart Cities will not happen unless they have green buildings,” Reddy says.

And if States too pitch in with some innovative policy initiatives, the green building movement could be accelerated, he explains.

India making progress

All in all, the country has been making steady progress towards energy-efficiency in construction.

What started with commercial buildings and factories has gradually gained acceptance in residential projects. It is estimated that a million sq ft of green building could save up to 12,000 tonnes of CO2, save about 15,000 MWh of energy, 45,000 KL of water and help in diverting 450 tonnes of construction waste for land fills.

Not surprisingly, we now have more than 12,50,000 dwelling units, over 250 plus green factories, more than 16,000 green offices, 45-plus green townships, several green villages and green cities.

Facilities of Hindustan Zinc, hospitality projects, ITC Green centre in Gurgaon, Suzlon One Earth in Pune, for instance, have demonstrated how they could bring down energy consumption.

Be it corporates or individuals, going energy-efficient adds to the overall happiness index. Imagine not having to worry about monthly power bills or sudden blackouts, thanks to one’s own solar energy/wind systems.

Published on January 01, 2019
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